Douglas Pass

Fun little story/pics about a recent adventure I went on. It’s been awhile since I posted a story/pics- Enjoy and be grateful every day :slight_smile:

DOUGLAS PASS EPIC
Epic - mostly overused these days. Yesterday I set out to 1. get away from the snow for a day 2. get in a good climb #ihbcdurango 4 weeks away. Douglas Pass is located on the western slope of Colorado, and runs north to south. Known for its length, steepness, and solitude, not for its elevation. Summit is only ~8,300’, (2529 meters). Annie and Paco dropped me off with a planned meeting of 4 hours later. Dark thick clouds covered the horizon ahead, but like I’ve always said, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” The sun was warming my backside as I began to pedal up the pass. I started approximately 14 miles from summit in sagebrush/Mormon tea/pinyon/juniper landscape. Strong headwinds made my ears buzz like I was in a jet engine; music didn’t help much to drown it out. An occasional oil/gas big rig would pass along with a few cars, otherwise the road was mine. Temperature was perfect for exercising, and when the precipitation did finally come; it was snow and not rain. So much for accomplishing #1 above. The road ahead began to disappear into the clouds as I pushed the 36er further up the mountain. I stopped to add a buff and a warm headband for what appeared like heavy snow to come. Perfect, the steepness of the road picked up about the time the snow intensity picked up. I was into it now; 5 miles to the summit. My body was warm, legs were spinning a smooth cadence, and my heart was beating a manageable rhythm. The mountain would fade in and out of the clouds. A 18% turn in the road had me gasping for what oxygen is available at this altitude. Legs could not turn the pedals over anymore, so I went into my other gear- walking. 3 steps later I remounted and continued up the steep mountain road. The weather was now the bigger challenge for me. Pushing hard around another 14% switchback I was barely able to see people in the snowstorm ahead. It was CDOT personnel working on clearing the mudslide across the road. I got off the unicycle to let them do their work with the large front end loader. Walked up to two of them sitting in their truck to ask how much further to the summit. I was very happy to hear only another mile and a half. The snow was starting to accumulate on the road and me, sunglasses were fogging up. I was still determined to summit this mountain pass, still had another layer of warmth in my camelback and plenty of liquids and calories. Rounding the final corner, the wind picked up and almost blew me off the edge. As hard as it was snowing, I would have been covered up in a snowdrift in no time. Smiling from ear to ear, snow covering me head to toe, the road white, I found a way to raise my arms and belt out a celebratory hell yeah! The CDOT crew appeared and put their heavy equipment away in the building on the summit; their day was over. Mine was only half over; I still had to ride down this mountain in what was now a full on blizzard. Took the obligatory summit pictures, thanked the spirits and people in my life who make these incredible experiences even possible and headed down the mountain. I was so ready for this, the only cold part on my body were my fingers. Gloves were at least keeping the snow off my skin. Made it down to the mudslide; the shale formation here is in constant movement and I could see it moving from the side of the mountain onto the road. Crazy. Down thru the switchbacks’, trying to manage to stay on the 36er as some of them were very steep and canted. Struggling, I managed to take pictures along the descent. By now, just about every vehicle has slowed to ask if I wanted a ride; “thank you but no I will make it.” How out of place and random I must have looked, most of the time people smile; they looked worried/concerned. Grateful for all of them to be so concerned and worried. I had a good idea that as I soon I got to a lower elevation that conditions would improve and I would be ok. Sure enough, once I got off the steepest part of the pass the skies brightened and were precipitating less. One of the vehicles, a truck with gooseneck trailer, was waiting for me at the bottom. A big THANK YOU, and thumbs up to the wonderful couple and we were both on our way. I must have had a bunch of snow on my helmet/visor, I would continue to get dripped on as I spun the uni down the lower slopes of the pass. All the snow had melted off of me by then. A favorite song then came on my ear bud, “Live the Life you Love, Love the Life you Live” as the CDOT crew passed me with their arms raised out the windows honking their horn. Yeah, I am a very lucky man living the life i love! I am honored to use the word EPIC for this adventure - up/down Douglas Pass.
2800’ (853 meters) climb
8300’ (2529 meters) summit
28 miles out/back (45 km’s)
43F-28F (6 -2C) temps
top 4 miles (6km) 1300’ (396meter) climb 12%-15% sections

Wow, you are one crazy badass. And to think I was patting myself on the back for making it up a modest hill a couple hundred yards long.

Nice!

JM

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When Aspenmike uses the word “epic”, I read the whole thing. What a stud! While it’s just starting to get properly hot here in Sacramento, you’re out riding in a blizzard. :smiley:

Excellent. Post more often please!