October 2, 2020
During the first week of October I embarked on my first bikepacking trip with my friends Brian and Josh. We had planned the trip months in advance, and had mapped out a few routes, in the event that the weather were a deciding factor. The route we ultimately went with was a ~150 mile loop starting and ending in Buena Vista, Colorado (BV).
Day 1 had us riding the forest service roads east of BV and stop for lunch in Salida only to end at O'Haver Campground at the base of Marshall Pass; Day 2 we'd climb Marshall Pass, grab lunch in Sargents and then climb Blacksage Pass before descending into Pitkin for camp; Day 3, our last day, had us climbing Alpine Tunnel Road to a ghost town (of sorts) and then hike-a-bike'ing over the mountain to descend back to BV.
The route was strung together from different routes we all created on Strava. I referenced bikepacking.com after seeing their article on The Vapor Trail—which sections of were mapped into Day 3 of our trip.
Our steeds were all gravel bikes with 700c wheels and ~40mm tires. Nobody had a mechanical and none of us felt under-biked on the route. Though running this in reverse may be a different story. We were blessed with fantastic weather. Not a drop of rain and only a mild headwind on the 2nd day (for a small section).
Ride stats: 54 mi / 6250ft elevation / 8:24 elapsed time / 5:56 moving time
We camped overnight in Buena Vista, Colorado at Turtle Rock Campground next to our vehicles. In the morning we packed up camp and ate some awesome cinnamon buns that Brian had picked up. Upon packing up camp we drove to the trailhead, gathered our gear and started pedaling up the trail system to the east of town.
Below is a screenshot of our route, check it out on Strava.
From there we rode the forest service roads south towards Salida. These roads are fantastic and you get some amazing views of the Collegiate Peaks as we rode through Alpine Ridge.
Brian pedaling up one of the Forest Service roads east of Buena Vista.
After lunch in Salida, we pedaled west towards Poncha Springs and began the grind up US-285 towards O'Haver Campground. We arrived rather late in the day, around 6pm, and all of the campsites were taken. Luckily, some really nice RV'ers allowed us to use a tent pad that they had no use for. We set up camp, washed some clothes, and huddled around the picnic table while eating our second dinners.
My bike loaded up with bags in Salida.
Josh's bike with some clothes drying in the sun at O'Haver Campground.
Ride stats: 54 mi / 4,708ft elevation / 7:59 elapsed time / 5:18 moving time
We woke up around 7am to the brisk morning air. However, the sun quickly rose and began warming things up. After boiling some water for our granola and coffee we began to pack up camp and prepare for the big day ahead.