Day 26: Blue River Campground to Hartsel (75.9 miles, 4,027ft)
We woke up to the rushing waters of the Blue River and, after a quick breakfast, started off toward Silverthorne along Colorado Highway 9. Traffic was heavy into Silverthorne, but we had a wide shoulder that allowed cars and trucks to give us a wide berth.
Once in Silverthorne, we joined a paved bike path that took us up to the picturesque Dillon Reservoir and then through the mountain vacation towns of Frisco and Breckenridge.
While we’d been climbing the whole day to Breckenridge—9,500 feet above sea level—from Breckenridge the grade became more perceptible as we ascended toward Boreas Pass. After riding the first few miles on paved road, we continued on a gradually graded dirt road. To our surprise, the ride to the top of the pass—at 11,482 feet, the highest pass we’d crossed yet and second highest pass of the route—was a breeze. (In 1882 a narrow gauge rail was constructed over the pass—always nice to ride on railroad grade roads.)
After enjoying the views from the top, we hung on tight to our bikes on the somewhat bumpy descent. Once in the valley on the other side of the pass, we felt like we’d entered a different world. We’d left the resort towns behind and now passed into more sparsely populated pasture country.
We road through the small town of Como and continued briefly on US Highway 285, before heading southeast on rolling dirt country roads through open countryside. We soon reached US Highway 24 and turned west, riding the last 5-6 miles into Hartsel—a small country town—on the highway.
Once in Hartsel, we stopped in the only lively joint in town—a roadside cafe/saloon (and apparent camp area)—for $1.25 happy hour beers and gigantic burgers. The cafe owners also directed us to a field across the road (behind some junked cars) that served as the camping area for cyclists riding through. Certainly, not the most traditionally “nice” campground we’d stayed in yet, but a pretty cool experience nonetheless.