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7 Days Grand Junction Loop Cycling Tour in Colorado, USA
This listing has no upcoming availability. Check out these similar experiences

This listing has no upcoming availability. Check out these similar experiences


Scenic Cycing Tour USA

As Colorado locals, Lizard Head Cycling Guides believes this is among the finest Colorado Bike Tour offered - the Colorado Cols. This carefully crafted cycling adventure spins a stunning route through the picturesque Grand Mesa, Gunnison, and White River National Forests plus over some iconic mountain passes (called “cols” in Europe) including Kebler Pass, Cottonwood Pass (newly paved), Independence Pass, and McClure Pass. You will also visit and spend time in both Crested Butte, Colorado and Aspen, Colorado - two different, but equally enchanting Rocky Mountain towns.

Key information

  • Trip type: Guided
  • Lodging: Point to Point
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Difficulty level: Challenging (Cyclist needs to have high level of fitness, must be an active rider, the terrain includes really challenging climbs / or 46-80 or more miles per day)
  • Total distance: 300 - 485 miles / 483 - 781 kilometers
  • Average elevation: 5331 - 8909 feet
  • Vacation type: Road cycling
  • Type of bike: Road bike
  • E-bike: Available to rent / 375 USD per week

Highlights

  • Starts in Mesa, Colorado
  • Ends in Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Riding kit and mechanical support
  • Lodge to lodge supported vehicle
  • 6 nights' accommodation
  • Meals and energy food
  • Liquid refreshments

Styles


6 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 18 participants
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Accommodation

You will be accommodated in several accommodations chosen by Lizards Head Cycling Guides.

  • Night 1: Leroux Creek Inn, or Bross Hotel Hotchkiss, Colorado (elevation 5,331 feet)
  • Nights 2 and 3: Elk Mountain Lodge, Crested Butte, Colorado (elevation 8,909 feet)
  • Nights 4 and 5: Limelight Hotel, Aspen, Colorado (elevation 8,000 feet)
  • Night 6: Redstone Cliffs Lodge, Redstone, Colorado (elevation 7,200 feet)

Program

Overview

Southwestern Colorado is the most remote area of the state and therefore has the least amount of vehicular traffic. Although this Colorado bike tour is advanced, it’s not as hard as it may sound. The median age of Lizard Head Cycling’s guests is right around 50 years.

Lizard Head Cycling’s owner, John Humphries, “quite selfishly” created the Colorado Cols to ride the mountain passes in Colorado that he found most appealing. He guarantees the challenging roads and beautiful and hospitable small towns on this tour will thrill cyclists. John calls the Colorado Cols “Lizard Head Cycling’s signature Colorado mountain tour”.

This exciting Colorado bicycle tour is a vehicle supported, lodge-to-lodge, road cycling tour through the San Juan Mountains. You’ll climb the state’s alpine cols (aka passes), sweep across wildflower-studded meadows, and descend into valleys each afternoon. Finally, relax in historic accommodations while savoring delicious dining. Colorado’s high country offers a beautiful short and sweet summer. This tour takes you away from it all, leaving you euphoric for your efforts. Participants on this tour have described the awestruck feeling of descending into the winding valley's housing the headwaters of the Rio Grande, Gunnison, and San Juan Rivers.

Highlights include Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Million Dollar Highway, Red Mountain Pass, the San Juan Skyway and the historic mining towns of Crested Butte, Creede, Pagosa Springs, Durango, and Ouray.

Lizard Head Cycling Guide’s Colorado Cols (CC-7) tour route highlights the most scenic and car-free roads in Colorado’s high country. It’s designed for both cyclists relatively new to multi-day tours and for riders who possess previous long-distance touring experience.

Altitude

Cyclists from lower elevations ride in Colorado each year, and most have no problems. All it takes is some preparation, patience and a little more hydration than you’d normally have. Yes, you’ll likely ride slower, and your heart rate will increase, but these are the Rockies, after all.

Even though the elevation on the Colorado Trail MTB ranges from 8,000 to 13,000-feet, and the average levels on the tour are between 7,500 and 8,500-feet, the views alone will make your heart beat faster!

How fit you have to be

If one month prior to the tour, you can ride two to three times a week equalling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. Lizard Head Cycling Guides likes to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week-long bike tour is to go on a week-long tour.

The average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so you take your time to stop, take pictures, and see the sights. You have all day to reach your destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. Lizard Head Cycling Guides offers reduced mileage options for each day. Of course, if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), they love to show them all the extra climbs, loops, and hidden canyons that can be included!

Do the bump

Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of the favorite options is to give cyclists a "bump" via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20-mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump, the rider is "off the front" and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They'll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterward, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.

Seamless mileage options

Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour - something they're well known for in their business. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best.

Slow or fast

Many cyclists who sign up for the tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they're surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and fast only exist relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

Itinerary

Day 1: Grand Mesa Scenic Byway (70 miles / 113 kilometers with up to 6,700 feet of climbing)

The Colorado Cols bike tour starts with a 5,000-foot climb along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway from Mesa, Colorado to the 10,000 foot high Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. This mesa is 40-miles from end to end with over 400 lakes. From the summit, it’s a fast descent back to the Gunnison River and into the beautiful verdant farmlands with its many vineyards and peach groves.

Although Grand Mesa is a long climb, the grade is moderate, the views remarkable, and the descent is smooth and fast. This is considered one of the best climbs in the state and a good opening day ride for a mountain bike tour, not too hard, not too easy. The long steady climb has allowed previous cyclists to gain a good rhythm for the rest of the bike trip.

Day 2: Kebler Pass (47 miles / 76 kilometers with up to 5,100 feet of climbing)

Although a shorter distance than the first day, day two’s Kebler Pass ride is a spectacular journey into the West Elk Mountains and up a beyond category (HC) climb through pine and aspen forests. Along the way, you ride below the immensely beautiful Marcellina Mountain and then up to Kebler Pass. Most of the ride up to the pass is smooth gravel and on this nearly traffic-free remote back road route, you’ll almost feel like you’re pedaling through the Swiss countryside. From the top of Kebler Pass, it’s then a quick seven miles into Crested Butte and to the lodging at the Elk Mountain Lodge.

Day 3: Layover day in Crested Butte, optional road, and mountain biking

  • Road ride - Crested Butte Loop via Ohio Pass: 53 miles / 86 kilometers with up to 2,700 feet of climbing
  • Mountain bike ride - Slate Creek, Paradise Divide, Baldy Mtn, and Gothic Valley

On this layover day, there are options for a road ride, a single track mountain bike ride, or if you simply want to relax and enjoy Crested Butte, that’s fine too as it’s a really cool town to explore! The optional rides include a road bike ride along the Crested Butte Loop over Ohio Pass, or if you want to take a day off from the road, then a singletrack mountain bike ride high above Crested Butte which includes Slate Creek, Paradise Divide, Baldy Mtn, and Gothic Valley.

Day 4: Cottonwood and Independence Pass (Crested Butte to Aspen)

  • Standard: 70 or 100-miles / 113 or 161-kilometer option with up to 5,000 to 7,500 feet of climbing
  • E.F.I.: 138 miles / 222 kilometers with up to 9,520 feet of climbing

Here comes the “Queen Stage” of the week which is typically the day during a multi-day tour that presents the most climbing, the longest distance, and / or is the most challenging. Then today will certainly be quite challenging as you tackle the two major passes of Cottonwood Pass at 12,126 feet and Independence Pass at 12,095 feet. The Standard route which offers the lowest mileage at 107 miles will offer a 31-mile shuttle after lunch in Buena Vista, Colorado to the start of Independence Pass climb at Twin Lakes, Colorado.

Today’s E.F.I. option attempts to ride the entire distance between Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado for a leg-numbing 138-miles and over 9,500 feet of climbing. During the five year run (2011 to 2015) of the U.S. Pro Cycling challenge in Colorado this stage was the “Queen Stage” on two occasions.

After a screaming descent from Independence Pass, you end the day in Aspen, Colorado to check into the Limelight Hotel which will be the lodging for the new two nights and then hit the town for a well-earned dinner. What an epic day of riding!

Day 5: Layover Day in Aspen, Maroon Bells, and Castle Creek

  • Optional: Rides of 30 or 46 miles / 49 or 74 kilometers with up to 2,000 to 3,500-feet of climbing

While today’s ride is certainly optional after the huge efforts of the previous day, Lizard Head Cycling Guides thinks this is a ride you will truly enjoy as you first ride up to the simply drop dropping gorgeous Maroon Bells where you will spend a little time to take in all the beauty and glory of this iconic Colorado location. Then it’s back down towards Aspen, but with a right hook up Castle Creek Road to the tiny village of Ashcroft for lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse with it’s eclectic food offerings sure to satisfy any appetite. After lunch, the final 13 miles of the day are all downhill and you return back to the Limelight Hotel where you can relax for the remainder of the day and enjoy downtown, Aspen.

Day 6: Aspen to Redstone via Snowmass (52 miles / 84 kilometers with up to 2,160 feet of climbing)

Riding from Aspen, the route takes you up to Snowmass Village via the Owl Creek Trail and then from here you drop down to the car-free Rio Grande Trail for the next 23 miles. Departing the trail in Carbondale, you turn left and head into the White River National Forest along the Crystal River to end the day in Redstone, Colorado, and Riverside at the delightful Crystal River Villas.

Day 7: McClure Pass (42 miles / 68 kilometers with up to 2,600 feet of climbing)

On this final day of the Colorado Cols tour, you roll out from the Redstone Cliffs Lodge and soon find ourselves climbing a 3-mile Cat 2 climb up to McClure Pass. Topping out at over 8,800-feet in altitude, this is the last climb of the week and from here you will enjoy a nearly 34-mile run into Paonia, Colorado passing the Paonia Reservoir along the way. You end the tour in Colorado’s fruit growing capital and gorge ourselves with peaches, apples, and cherries of every kind! A post-ride shuttle back to Grand Junction, Colorado ends the tour.

Bike rentals

The staff of Lizard Head Cycling Guides will do their very best to fulfill specific bike model, and component request but, due to the dynamic nature of the bike fleet allocation and the purchase of rental bikes by guests throughout the season, cannot guarantee specific bikes or requests.

In the event a guest damages their rental bike, they will be responsible for all cost associated with restoring the bike to it’s originally rented condition. Such costs are not included in the cost of the rental bike. Lizard Head Cycling Guides reserves the right to charge the card on file for the cost of repair.

Each participant on the tour renting a bike is required to fill out Lizard Head Cycling Guides’ bike rental release. Liability forms will be available at the pre-tour meeting but can be reviewed ahead of time by clicking on the link below.

Road bike rental

Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only 250 USD / week, or 150 USD for three or four-day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high-performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition, they also have electric bikes available for rental at 375 USD / week. Then finally, they have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in the rental fleet. Just let Lizard Head Cycling Guides know what you need and they can probably find it.

Electric bike rental

Lizard Head Cycling Guides now has a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for the tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is 375 USD / week.

Notes

  • Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.
  • Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.

Location

This tour will take place in Colorado, USA, including Mesa, Grand Mesa, Gunnison River, Kebler Pass, Marcellina Mountain, Crested Butte, Cottonwood Pass, Independence Pass, Twin Lakes, Maroon Bells, Aspen, White River National Forest, and Grand Junction.

Food

Lunches

Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. They will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty / sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. They pride themselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten free, dairy free or a someone who loves it all - they will keep you well fed during the tour!

Dinners

Lizard Head Cycling sources their favorite restaurants in each town that you visit. The guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree, and of course dessert, yum! Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. Lizard Head Cycling Guides understands that on some, days sleep is the most important post-ride element.

The following meals are included:

  • Lunch
  • Drinks

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Gluten Free
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • Guide service
  • Lizard Head Cycling riding kit and mechanical support
  • Guide service
  • Shuttle
  • All taxes and entrance fees
  • Energy food
  • Liquid refreshments
  • Daily lunch en route
  • 6 nights' accommodation
  • 6 days of meals

What's not included

  • Alcoholic beverages

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
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