|Stage 2 At Cottonwood Pass
The 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge transpired this week through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. During Stage 2, professional cyclists
began in Gunnison, then traveled through Almont, Taylor Canyon, past Taylor Park
Reservoir, then cycled uphill on Gunnison County Road 209 (a dirt road!) to the top of Cottonwood Pass. Of course, they had more riding after that, with
Buena Vista, Granite, Twin Lakes, Independence Pass on their route with Aspen as the final destination.
If you plan to watch the race from Cottonwood Pass next year in 2012, be advised
that authorities somewhat limited the number of people who can be up there. On the previous day,
Cottonwood Pass was closed to vehicular traffic beginning at 3 p.m. in the
afternoon. Yes, they closed the gate on at the Denny Creek Trailhead parking lot!
(I'm not sure what they did on the Taylor Park side.) Thus, many drove up their vehicles before the closing,
then camped overnight. Some drove to the Denny
Creek Trailhead parking lot on the morning of the stage race, and then hiked to the pass.
Lastly, some cycled to Cottonwood Pass, then, when the grand parade of
cyclists and SAG's were well ahead, they enjoyed the thrilling descent back to Buena Vista themselves.
The photos directly below were all taken by a friend who "screen captured"
images of them riding up and down the pass. Those and others are included
on my write-up about Stage 2 here:
USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 2.
If you're well acquainted with the west side of Cottonwood Pass,
there is a section of road above timberline where the road does many "S" turns. That would probably be a great spot to watch the race.