DAY 2 - (Tuesday) Empire to Breckenridge
I awoke to a clear sky and wet ground. By the time I dried my rainfly and other odds and ends, ate my breakfast, and got packed up it was 8:30. The two miles back down from Empire were obviously quite easy. I noticed two or three restaurants in Empire, but it appeared that only one was open. I coasted by. My rib cage was no longer sore and everything was A-OK.
At the bottom of the Empire hill you go to the right towards I-70 west. Follow the signs to the "Handi-camp" south over I-70 and follow the service road (highway 6, but not marked) to Georgetown. This is a nice stretch of road with some flats and nice scenery.
This isn't marked at all, but when you get to Georgetown you have to get onto I-70. The turn to the entrance ramp is before getting into "historic" Georgetown. There're convenience stores near the turnoff.
The next two miles is an ugly grunt up 600 feet. You've got a lot of shoulder (almost a whole lane), but there's plenty of traffic. You exit in Silver Plume ... ahhhh. The woman in the little shop where I bought an apple told me it was 600 feet in 2 miles. That's a only a 5.6% grade. It felt like more.
Stay to the north of I-70 and follow the service road (again, this is the old highway 6). The last of the three miles to Bakersville is a steep climb. Then you enter I-70 for the last time. There are no breaks now. You're heading for Loveland pass.
Five grueling miles later you leave I-70 at the Loveland Basin exit. Bicycles are not allowed in the Eisenhower tunnel on I-70. It would be easier in terms of elevation, but it's a mile or two long with no place for bicycles and a lot of trapped car exhaust.
Only a little more than 2.5 miles to go to the top of Loveland pass. Patiently
follow the switchbacks to 11,990 feet. I stopped part way up, rested on my
sleeping pad, and had the other half of last night's turkey sandwich for lunch.
After a short rest I continued. Although the crest of the pass kept moving
further away from me I finally caught up to it. Some typical high country
clouds spit on me a bit, but the weather held quite nicely.
I took a couple of pictures, put on a shirt, sweatshirt, and gloves and raced eight miles, down into Keystone.
There's not much in Keystone. Not in the summer, anyway. I stopped at a sporting goods shop where I refilled my water bottles and got directions for finding Swan Mountain Road. It's a little over 2 miles out of town at the second light. Take a left at the light and then bear right to follow Swan Mountain Road along the southeast shores of Dillon Reservoir.
After 5 miles that includes a little bit of climbing in the first couple of miles, turn left on the frontage road before highway 9. It deadends into the Blue River Bikeway which goes all the way to Breckenridge. It's a very gradual climb to Breckenridge.
The Breckenridge brewpub is at the south end of town. I was not greatly impressed with Breckenridge or the brewpub. There seemed to be nothing but condos and tourist shops there. At the brewpub I met a couple from Omaha that were staying in a condo in Dillon. They were trying to get a free beer because their last name was Breckenridge. It didn't work.
After a burger and a couple of brews I headed out of town to look for a campsite along the Blue River. That was the advice I received while at the Brewpub. I would try something else next time. Ask around.
I got about 3 miles out of town before I was able to find some land without a house on either side of it. It was nearly dark and I set up my tent about 50 yards off of highway 9. I didn't sleep well that night.
I had bought a couple of 22 oz. beers at the brewpub, but realized that I hadn't brought a bottle opener. I discovered that the back end of a Blackburn rack where it attaches to the end of the chainstays works quite well.
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