Winter Park to Boulder over Rollins Pass

A couple friends were headed to Granby Ranch and Winter Park last weekend for a weekend of downhilling, camping, and general shenanigans. I was down for most of that, but wasn’t feeling two full days of downhilling because my fork is oversprung, and I haven’t gotten around to ordering a lighter spring so it gets uncomfortable. …after writing that sentence I’ve realized there’s the distinct possibility I’m just a baby. But whatever, I packed two bikes – DH and XC – and headed into the mountains.


The riding at Granby Ranch was awesome. Super technical rock lines that reminded me of my east coast upbringing, steep lines, a couple rhythm sections, and a blind ladder drop pasted a grin on my face that lasted well into the evening.

After a quick stop at the grocery store, we found a cool camp spot on the west side of 40 and set up camp.

The climb

Rollins PassThe next morning was the ride I was really looking forward to. My friends drove to Winter Park, dropping me and my XC bike on the access road to Rollins Pass. I started pedaling from there, following dirt roads next to a small canal, across amazing viewpoints, and around old rail lines. I remembered this being a really long climb, and it is about 10 miles of continuous uphill, but as I started to near treeline I knew I was making good time.

The top of the climb was a bit annoying with puddles and insects everywhere, but I got to the continental divide before any rain clouds and began the light descent over some ancient railroad trestles. I don’t expect those trestles are going to collapse anytime soon, but that possibility crosses my mind every time I’m 50 feet off the ground.

Over the Continental Divide

Nederland espressoI followed the trail towards Eldora, and then into Nederland where I picked up a spare tube and espresso before heading back up to the High School Trails. I took the High School Trails to West Mag, crossed Peak to Peak Highway, and continued onto the Dots.

I had no idea why, but I felt great. No energy crash, no mental fatigue, I was just cruising along like 35 miles of dirt was no big deal. It never occurred to me that I rarely drink coffee so a mid-ride espresso was like superpower juice. At the end of the Dots I crossed Magnolia to find the stunning views on Winneger Ridge, and only on the dirt road climb back to Magnolia Road did I start to feel tired. ..probably in part because someone told me a mountain lion had been spotted nearby, and there’s nothing like a massive predatory animal to remind me of human frailty.

Back to Boulder

By the time Magnolia changed to pavement, I had ridden 43 miles of dirt, mostly singletrack, with 5000 feet of elevation. It’s exactly this type of Colorado exploring that gave rise to Conation – from the campsite to the Continental Divide to the coffee shop all in one awesome outfit.

Check out the Strava profile here.