Where the Pavement Ends

Jan 31, 2013 View Comments by

Where the Pavement Ends

There is a place where the pavement ends and the dirt begins, 

There the rocks are large and inviting and the peaks above oh so exciting, 

The air beckons and the throttle opens and the pavement ends and excitement beckons . . .

(Inspired by Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein)

The poem above was inspired by the feeling one gets when you leave the asphalt created courtesy of State DOTs. There is no greater feeling than discovering an off-road opportunity after putting in some good hard road miles.

Some riders prefer pavement, while others desire the trail, but for adventure riders it is the balance of the two that drives the ride. Whenever I put together a ride I always seek out detours that will maximize off-road opportunities.

I am a big fan of National Geographic Maps and the freely available Scenic Byway Main Site maps. I keep them stacked next to my favorite chair and read them like books. They are great sources of inspiration when looking for alternative routes. For those who seek a reason to take the “long-cut” these maps are boundless assets.

Recently, my friend Jordan and I used a series of these maps for a ride from Crested Butte to Aspen to Leadville and back to Denver. The benefit of our route was that we made good time on the paved way out, just over four hours. However, the real fun came on our way home. We started in Basalt on Frying Pan Road, which connects to Leadville, CO. We soon passed the Aspen Yacht Club. Yep, a Yacht Club in Colorado! The scenery was filled with red rock, towering pines, and “yachts” floating on the lakes as we passed by.

The end of the road morphed into a dirt trail that lead up and over Hagerman Pass. If you are so equipped, you can ride over and down the other side to Leadville. If not, you have to ride back the 30 or so miles to Basalt and go around. Fortunately, we were equipped and the joy of the pavement ending had begun.

My heart sped up like it often does when I hit a new trail, my hands got tense and I had to relax. The unknown is no reason to turn around. The road became increasingly more difficult as we got closer to the top of the pass. It took about two hours to ride 30 miles. We alternated between high speed climbing on little more than forest roads and much more technical rock hopping and water crossings. Even after two guys came barreling down towards us on stripped down GS’s, I thought to myself, “I am glad I chose the Dakar and not the GS 1200 ADV today.”

There is nothing quite like reaching the summit of a pass. This one was hard fought, but the ride down to Leadville proved to be even more challenging; downhill always feels tougher. It was much more rutted and littered with large rocks that had rolled down onto the “road.” Our tires separated from the last bit of dirt onto the road above Turquoise Lake. We breathed a sigh of relief and reveled in the success of our ride for a brief moment before heading east back towards Denver.

The route home took about seven hours with a nice slice of traditional New York style pizza consumed in the middle for good measure. It was three hours longer than our ride out the night before, but the adventure was incomparable. Finding opportunities where the pavement ends is just one way to keep the adventure going.

Take a moment to share the last time you found an amazing detour. Until next time, keep searching for those special destinations that don’t bring you Anywhere  . . . but instead bring you Somewhere!


Tags: , , Categories: Adventure Hermit

About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!