Bicycle Passport Forums Bicycle Passport Forum 10. CUMBRES PASS CUMBRES, LA MANGA PASSES RIDE REPORT


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    Ryan Rhinehart

    2016 was a glorious autumn and we decided to tackle Cumbres (10,022 feet) and La Manga (10,230 feet) passes on September 24 and Cordova Pass, on the 25th. We had driven from Denver on Friday evening and battled fierce winds- the kinds that blow tumbleweeds across the highway- and rock your vehicle as it cruises down I-25 at 75 mph. We took a left off I- 25 at Walsenberg onto US 160, The Highway of Legends, a Colorado Scenic Byway, and made our way over 9,413 feet North La Veta Pass in darkness, fog and snow. At this point we were wondering if the whole weekend was going to be a scrub! We rolled into Alamosa to the Super 8 at 2505 Main St., (719) 589-6447 where we spent two nights. We awoke Saturday morning at 6:30 to find frost on the windshields and a dense fog. Again, we wondered amongst ourselves what we were getting ourselves into. A quick continental breakfast at the motel, loading the bikes and associated gear into vehicles and we were on our way to Chama, New Mexico, an hour and a half away, where we would begin the day’s quest. We drove south on U.S. 285 to Antonito and took a right on CO 17 into Chama. Our day’s ride would take us 50 miles from Chama back along the same route to Antonito. There was a dusting of snow along the higher elevations, and that mixed with the beautiful autumn golds and the bright, now clear blue sky made for a gorgeous scene. We stopped at a small shop just south of the train station in Chama, where some members of the group purchased some souvenirs. We kitted up and were soon on our way. Four of us started out at around 10:00 a.m. and the temperature was about 45 degrees, so different versions of layers including vests, jackets, arm warmers, and leg warmers were all chosen according to personal preferences. At two miles in we passed the Eastside Airport- a simple straight patch of asphalt, and commented amongst ourselves what it would be like to “fly into Chama”. Eight miles in we crossed the border back into Colorado and- of course- had to stop for the obligatory photo opportunities. At mile twelve we summited Cumbres Pass. The grade increased gently starting at one and two percent and topped out at six and seven percent for the last mile. The average for the first climb was around 3.5 percent. A short, gentle descent and another short climb brought us to the summit of La Manga Pass at mile 19.5. At this point we had shed some layers and posed for more photos taken by our trusty SAG crew. A short steep descent- 5.6 miles at -5.5 percent brought us to the Conejos River at mile twenty-five, where the grade leveled out but was still gently downhill following the river through the valley. We rolled into Antonito at mile 47, and according to our “rules of engagement”, at the time, we needed 50 miles to complete our ride. So we continued north on Main Street, until we spotted a large church to the northwest of town. We decided to ride out to it, and check it out. Imagine our surprise to find that we had stumbled upon the first permanent catholic parish in the state of Colorado decreed around 1858. We stopped, studied the historic plaque, took some photos, and continued the few miles back into town to achieve our fifty mile goal. We had a nice lunch at Dos Hermanas Mexican restaurant on Main Street, between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. Our entire ride was 51 miles, took us about three hours and twenty minutes, and we climbed a total of 3160 feet in elevation. We drove back to Alamosa, where we would spend the night and live to ride another day.

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