In the saddle: Back-road bliss on a Grand Hogback loop
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colo. – With my bike stuffed in my back seat, I took a road trip Saturday in order to take a road ride. The result couldn’t have been better.
The goal was some new scenery on roads less traveled and I found miles’ worth of just that. I didn’t exactly know where I was going, and had no map, but managed to nose my way around a loop between New Castle and Silt without much trouble.
It’s a perfect spring ride, but if I do it again this season, I’ll be starting at about 7:30 a.m. I imagine the heat is blistering in the summer months.
I parked at the City Market, just off Interstate 70 at the New Castle exit, and started riding up behind the store through residential neighborhoods. I made a right when I finally reached a stop sign and a road that headed toward the hills north of New Castle. Almost immediately, I was riding through the countryside. I wound up on Buford Road before veering left at a Y intersection and onto Grass Valley Road (I think). It was aptly named. Green pastures, dotted with flocks of sheep, horses and cattle, rolled by as the road climbed gently in a northwest direction, in valley separated from I-70 by the Grand Hogback ridge. Muddy Elk Creek flowed through this wide valley, where old wagon wheels decorate the occasional driveway
The road was rough – the chip-and-seal pavement felt like riding on cobblestone – but there was very little vehicular traffic.
I took a left, heading south on Harvey Gap Road, and quickly encountered Harvey Gap reservoir, incongruously glinting a deep turquoise that clashed with the surrounding landscape. It looked like a body of water transported from the Caribbean, but swamped cottonwoods dotted the edges instead of palm trees. Anglers were flocking to the boat ramps and others were working on their tans along the shoreline.
At the dam, the road began a steep descent, offering views of the sprawling, lush Colorado River Valley below. Lower down, another left put me on rollercoaster-like Silt Mesa Road, which intersected with Peach Valley Road. There, I made a mistake. I turned right, down into Silt, and wound up on busy Highway 6 for the ride back to New Castle.
A left, as it turned out, would have taken me on another bucolic stretch of back-road bliss before dumping me out onto Highway 6 near New Castle.
Guess I’ll have to go back.
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