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VaultGuru 03-02-09 02:33 PM

Vail CO area road ride questions
We will be staying in the Vail CO area (Avon) for a week in early June and wanted to bring our tandem with us. I have looked at threads on this regional discussion and reviewed Map My Ride. It looks like most of the riding is done on I-70 and/or Highway 24. Is this correct? Are there side roads that are ok to ride on? We have to ride about 20 miles on I-80 when we do a Sacramento to Tahoe ride and it is a little scary.
Can any of you give me an idea what the road riding is like in this area? Any roads that are better than others? Any other places to start/end (Breckenridge, Copper Mountain)? We are fine with altitude and climbing.
I also posted this on the Regional Group, but thought some of you have ridden your tandems in this area and would have a different opinion.
Thanks in advance.

superdex 03-02-09 04:24 PM

no riding on I70 through Vail or Avon (YAY!). From Avon you can ride along hwy 6 east to Vail and either head up to Minturn (and beyond) on hwy 24--which is quite safe (and popular)-- or duck through to Vail on the bike path (it's obvious when you get there) and then ride through Vail on S. Frontage Rd. Turn on to Big Horn Rd and keep going east until it dead-ends. You'll be at the base of Vail Pass and the road continues up but no access for motorized vehicles. You can go all the way into Frisco and Breckenridge if you want....

Or you can head west on Hwy 6 to 131 and head north, very pretty once you get back towards State Bridge...

What kind of mileage are you looking to do? This route is quite popular, and VERY scenic:

VaultGuru 03-02-09 07:27 PM

Thanks for the quick reply superdex. Just what I was looking for. I did see the copper triangle loop on Map My Ride. Looked really good although I think it will take us a few days to acclimate to 10k+ altitude. If we decide that ride is initially too much for us, do you recommend sections, ie, out and back?
Thanks again

merlinextraligh 03-03-09 06:57 AM

The bikepath from Vail to Dillon is actually quite nice. It runs parallel to I-70, but for the most of it, you're not even aware of the interstate. Its a significant climb up Vail pass, but it's never steep. My guess would be 4-5% average grade. All th way to Dillion, and back would be a full day. If you wanted to do less you could ride to the top of the pass and back down, so you only have to climb it once.

Riding around Lake Dillon is also nice.

oldacura 03-03-09 08:56 AM

From Vail over Vail Pass to Copper Mountain or Frisco (or Breckenridge) and back is a nice ride.

Climbing the west side of Vail pass is fairly steep and gets really steep near the top - we've done it and in sections we were both standing in our lowest gear.

We've done the Copper Triangle - about 80 miles. We thought it was pretty challenging. If you descend Fremont pass toward Copper Mountain, the highway is pretty steep, long & straight. I've heard several reach their all-time max speeds on this descent (65+ mph).

SDS 03-04-09 08:27 AM

Be careful on the bike path going under the bridge on I-70 just uphill from Vail going up toward Vail Pass--I have heard that a few people have had accidents there due to poor visibility. Also, practically nothing beats the ride from Idaho Springs up to the top of Mount Evans, weather and road conditions permitting. Remember to take a few dollars to pay the entry fee at the forest entrance just past Echo Lake. The best Colorado road biking guide is Michael Seeberg's "Road Biking Colorado."

Living in Texas at less than 600 feet, when in shape I could hike and bike pretty well up to 12000 feet, but I found hiking at 14000 feet (from Mount Evans over toward Mount Bierstadt) at a decent pace to be difficult. Biking to 14000 feet was fine, at 2500 ft/hr from Idaho Springs to the summit of Mount Evans.

oldacura 03-04-09 09:42 AM

I hadn't thought about Mt Evans. We did this about 5 years ago. It is 28 miles from Idaho Springs (el 7,500') to the top of Mt Evans (el 14,260'). This is the highest paved road in North America. People ride this all the time but we found it to be a real grunt on a tandem. Riding near 14,000 feet is a real challenge even for us that live at 5,000 feet. If you're looking for a real challenge, this would be one.

superdex 03-04-09 02:09 PM


Originally Posted by merlinextraligh (Post 8458715)
Its a significant climb up Vail pass, but it's never steep. My guess would be 4-5% average grade.

Heading west-to-east, Vail Pass is almost 10mi with an average of 4%, but dern it feels like a lot steeper --the initial section is in the 6-8% range. ( Heading east-to-west it's much mellower... is a good resource

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