Coast to Coast 2022 Adventure Day 16: Walden, CO to Grand Lake, CO

Alan Gilbert
5 min readJul 9, 2022

This post is part of a series detailing my 2022 coast to coast cycling adventure.

I’m fully back in the swing of things today through beautiful northern Colorado.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” — John Muir

Day 16 Highlights:

Song of the day: Rosewood Bitters by Michael Stanley
Start: Walden, CO
End: Grand Lake, CO (and my, is it grand!)
Distance: 70.5 miles
Elevation: 3,205 ft
Breakfast: Hotel room potluck
Lunch: Fitch Ranch Meats and Market in Granby (the cafe part)
Dinner: Sagebrush BBQ in Grand Lake

Progress so far: 1,353.5 miles, 50,190 ft climbed.

The journey so far, with today’s ride in blue

Here are all of the details on today’s ride:

Somehow I slept through my alarm, but that resulted in me getting nine hours of sleep — a nice bonus.

The confusion on Colorado 125, our route for the first 50 miles to Granby, worked to our advantage. As covered in my previous post, our main route to Grand Lake had been closed due to mudslides. The alternate route would have added 35 miles to today’s ride and not been nearly as safe or scenic. But it turns out it was recently reopened, and since neither Google nor Apple Maps had that update, there was very little traffic. Add to that the beautiful mountain scenery, enjoyable climbs and descents, slight tailwinds, and manageable distance (70 miles), and it made for an amazing day. At this point I am ready to put my illness behind me (literally). Today felt completely normal and I am happy to be all the way back.

The ride south, out of Walden, was just amazing. One factor that made it especially scenic was that we rode through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge and Forest. Pictures tell the story better than words.

Heading south through the Arapaho National Widelife Refuge out of Walden towards Granby
One of my faves of the trip

One very cool sight was a bald eagle sitting on a fence post. No picture though because it was too far away and the iPhone, even with a 2X zoom, just can’t capture distant wildlife. We’ve seen several bald eagles so far and it is always wondrous.

We were so happy that Colorado 125 was open, but just in case we hit a rough patch, we brought walking shoes.

My little camelbak is not built for hauling gear but I managed a provisional solution

And in fact, we did hit a few dicey areas but were able to ride trough then.

Cleared mudslides on Colorado 125

You can see how one good rain could bring more mud and block the road again.

One of my favorite moments was when we started to see Aspens. Then I really knew we were in Colorado.

First Aspen sighting
Today was the closest I have ever felt to true wilderness (the nice kind, where you want to hang out) on a road bike
We have crossed the Continental Divide several times on this trip. This was the peak elevation for the day. It keeps getting higher.

Since the journey started at zero elevation, we have been working our way up and aclimatinzing to higher and higher levels. Above we approach 10,000 ft. and I neither Dave nor I are feeling adverse effects — we’ll see what happens tomorrow at 12,000 ft. Once we hit our peak for the day and started our decent into Granby, we went through a pretty extensive burn area. Nonetheless, it was beautiful and breathtaking.

Burned but beautiful, descending into Granby from the Continental Divide through the Arapaho National Forest

Once we hit Granby, we angled northeast towards Estes Park, marking our departure from the TransAmerica trail. We have been on and off that route for our entire journey so far, seeing many self-supported riders hauling 60 to 100 pounds of total weight (we weigh in at 25–30 each with water). Dave and I both have deep admiration for what they are doing but are happy to be light and fast thanks to Dee and Sue, our support angels.

Our shorter milage today meant that we arrived into Grand Lake early afternoon with time to check out the dreamy little town on the lake.

Granby Lake on the left, Grand Lake on the right
Town of Grand Lake

Tomorrow’s ride is a “short” 44 miles but includes 3450 feet of climbing up over 12K ft elevation. Then we get a day off.