Ride the Rockies 2017- Day 4 Million Dollar Highway

Today is one of the epic Colorado Rides  which goes from Durango to Ridgeway. With three passes near 11,000 feet it’s not for the faint of heart. There is a post card view around every corner. Today’s ride is one of the top 5 rides in Colorado. With this being what should be the most difficult day I got an early start at 6am . When I pick up my bike from the bike corral I would guess 60% of the bikes were gone. It was chilly again 44 degrees. I wore arm and leg warmer along with a wind jacket. I also wore very light ski gloves which were not warm enough for the first hour. We took highway 550 to Silverton.  The first rest stop was at mile 13. My average was only 14.6mph because we had a 7 mph headwind. Two miles after the rest area we started climbing. 

We reached the second Rest Stop at mile27 in Purgatory. In the photo below you can see the ski runs from the rest stop. 

For the next 5 miles we had some ups and downs before we started the next steep 7 mile climb to the rest stop at mile 35 at the top of Coal Bank Pass at elevation 10,640′. This was our steepest climb with 7 and 8% grades. 

Coal Bank Aid Station

We then lost 1000′ of that with a downhill which we regained going to the Aid Station at mile 42 at Molas Pass. 

Molas Pass had views of snow in all directions. 

We then dropped 1,700′ into Silverton which was a pretty ride. 

The route from Silverton to Ouray is called the Million Dollar Highway and it has some of the best views in Colorado. 

The last climb was up to Red Mountain Pass was an 1800′ climb over 10 miles. Today’s ride was challenging for most of the riders. 

It was probably more difficult than the first day ride over Wolf Creek Pass with the strong headwinds but it seamed easier because of the scenery  and even thou the climb was almost twice as much as the first day the climb was broken up into 4 separate climbs. I did not take any pictures of the most scenic of all the area between Red Mountain Pass to Ouray because I was consentrating on the fast downhill. On another bike trip I did this ride in the opposite direction and because I was going up hill in this section I was able to stop and take photos. The YouTube video for that trip is at this link  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdaI1XvU1dI&feature=share 

When we got to Ouray we had a burger and a beer from the roof top beer garden and watched the bikers come in. 

The final 13 miles was on a busy 2 lane road to Ridgway which, you guessed it, a headwind.In the evening we went into town for dinner and watch the concert.

John Moore


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