Honeymoon Tour Part II Aspen to BV October 14 2014
My uncle George recently drove over Independence Pass for his 2nd time ever. And while he was visiting us made a point to talk about the perils of this high and windy road. “There aren’t guard rails” he says. And I respond – “oh, there are some… well at least a few here and there” … “OK you’re right – there is not a guard rail at the outside of every switchback”.
Someone actually tried to commit suicide a few years ago by driving straight off the end of the highest switchback. I know it totaled the car, but I think the driver survived unharmed. Only one biking fatality occurred on the pass this year. It was tragically due to a heart attack no trauma involved. The pass’s number one biggest problem is 18 wheelers getting stuck. Semi-trailers are strictly forbidden on the pass, and there is nearly a dozen signs warning them of this. The turns are too tight, and there is nowhere to turn around.
My uncle works for a trucking company – so its fitting that he despises the pass so much. I’m suspicious he is accustomed to driving on mostly straight, flat roads in the mid-west. I’m sure the road does feel narrower when driving a car, but on a bike it is plenty wide. My advice: if you are moving fast don't look over the F...ing edge... just keep your eyes focused on all that pavement between the paint stripes!
Our second day involves riding up Independence pass, then down to Twin Lakes, Buena Vista, and onward to find someplace to camp. Having spent our first night at Weller Campground, we were starting off with 1/3 of the climb behind us. None – the less, the remainder of the climb would be a big push… dispatched with a few hours of good music, conversation, pedal pushing, and snacks.
The top of the pass is always busy with a good distribution of tourists, motorcycles, a few RVs, and a handful of cyclists. We last visited the pass in the late spring for UpSkiing – it is one of our favorite park and ride UpSki locations. From the top of the pass it’s a 3 hour downhill ride to BV. (faster if you are a member of the 20 car Ferrari club)
Buena Vista is an interesting delema. It’s a cool town… I love it. But, its economy is driven by the summer tourism season. Although it is positioned at nearly 8000ft (just slightly higher than neighboring Aspen) it does not have a ski resort or any other significant winter time attraction. It gets limited snow because it is in a rain shadow behind the Elks Mountains which gets the bigger pounding of snow. K’s is our favorite joint in town… known for their milk shakes, and assigning tickets to their customers with the names of celebrities. We were assigned “Richard Nixon” WTF??