100 Miles: Cottonwood Pass to Leadville


Yesterday’s ride was an excellent reminder that not all centuries are created equal.

It was also the first day where I settled into “tour mode,” where I did not worry about the miles or how often we stopped. I was just in the present moment.


Our scenic and peaceful ride started in Crested Butte and wove us over Cottonwood Pass at 12,100 feet. Cottonwood Pass was a sublime winding climb on gravel.


Wildflowers flanked much of the roadside. Few cars passed us and those who did gave us plenty of room.


I loved how we could see all of the gentle switchbacks ahead. I tried to strategically plan my bathroom breaks so they coincided with good photo moments.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the mosquitoes did not allow us to linger long in any one place.


After cresting Cottonwood Pass, we descended to about 8,000 feet through Buena Vista, a cute town with a good bike shop and an excellent coffee shop.


We left Buena Vista to ascend 2,000 feet over a nicely spaced 30 miles to Leadville, Colorado, which sits at over 10,000 feet. Leadville residents must have lungs of steel.


So it was not a flat day, okay? Felkerino and I are doing pretty well with the altitude now but rapid descents with a big elevation drop and twisty turns consistently make me gaggy. I am prone to motion sickness so this is not surprising; it just cuts into the awesome factor ever so slightly.


The climb to Leadville was surprisingly easier than I expected. A helpful tailwind on a gentle grade over a smooth road made for good pedaling.

Felkerino and I pushed our way into town and soon after our arrival, I felt pretty bad. Felkerino thought it was a bonk so he ordered me to drink a Sprite, which brought me back to some semblance of my former self. One vegetarian lasagne and a baked potato later, I was ready for another day of riding. What a relief!


    1. I think that place has a new name. Now it’s “blah blah blah, formerly known as Billy Bongo’s.” Fantastic espresso there, by the way.


      1. It’s the Buena Vista Roastery now. Much bigger now than the large log cabin my colleague and I lunched at while working for a week in Buena Vista. Couldn’t believe our luck, a decent cup of tea (v rare in the US at that time) and sensible sized sandwiches.


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