Three years ago when we stayed in Glenwood Springs, Dad and I discovered the Rio Grande Rail Trail - it went from Glenwood Springs to Aspen and it was a very nice trail, at least the 7 or so miles of it we rode near Glenwood Springs. Since we were in Aspen and Mom could pick us up in Glenwood Springs, we decided we'd ride the whole thing. It was 42 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs and we rode from the campground into Aspen, Map My Ride said it was 49 miles. I think it was more like 47, but either way it was a long ride!
We were riding downhill and I was expecting it would be like the Great Alleghany Passage where we were heading downhill but you couldn't really tell, it was basically flat. I remember how long that 50 mile day felt and I was thinking today would be the same. But it wasn't! The descent was steady and noticeable, according to Dad's GPS we averaged 12 mph, there were lots of times I was just coasting and that was nice! I think it also helped that most of the trail was paved. There was a section of maybe 5 miles between Aspen and Basalt that wasn't paved, but it was smooth crushed stone. Usually when I do a 30 mile ride it stops being fun around mile 24-25, but today that didn't happen. The ride was less fun after mile 35, but I never got to a point of just wanting it to end!
When we started in Aspen it was cold! Our campground is up in the valley and the mountains are very tall, it takes a long time in the mornings for the sun to come up over the mountain. My campsite probably doesn't get the sun until after 9. It goes down into the 40s at night. It was a cold ride, mostly in the shade, down the East Aspen Trail. Once we got to the trail head in Aspen however we were warm and took off our fleece!
The 1st half of the trail was my favorite. When we were in Aspen the trail was wooded and we had great views of Roaring Fork river with its many cascades. Soon we dropped enough elevation that we were in the desert! The morning was still cool and it was nice.
There are very few services along the route. We found one porta-potty near Aspen and another at Basalt High School, and there were some at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs. Luckily the 1st picnic table we came to was also in time for lunch and in the shade!
After lunch the ride got hot! We'd dropped even more elevation, the temperature was climbing, and there was no shade. Then the wind kicked up! We were riding downhill, but with the wind in our face it made it almost seem like we were riding on the flat.
Just outside of Carbondale there was a detour because of mountain lion activity. You don't want to mess with that! The detour was well marked and easy to follow, even if there were a few moments of, "I hope we are still going to right way!"
It was just about 2:00 when we got to Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs. Mom had found the park and was waiting for us. After cooling off in the shade, we headed to Kalidescoops for, you guessed it, ice cream!
After we ran a few errands, Walmart (where I ended up buying a pair of leggings because I wasn't walking around in my super padded bike shorts! I hiked to Crater Lake in them and that was enough! I love them for biking, but not for walking!), the farmers market in Cannondale, City Market and then back to Aspen.
Once in Aspen we parked at the visitor center and walked down to Rio Grande Park to visit the John Denver Sanctuary. John lived in Aspen and the sanctuary is very nice! There's an area where the words to some f his songs are etched in big rocks. There's another area with some meandering paths surrounded by water and little cascades and wild flowers! A few rocks in that area have quotes on them, but not all are John Denver quotes or lyrics. It was a neat spot!
We returned to the campground for dinner and generator time. After dinner I came back "home" to prep for tomorrow, blog, and read! I like having the evening to get these things done.