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The Needles Eye

n light of the stressful and high anxiety week you might be experiencing, I’d like to off you a few moments to escape and give your mind a reprieve.

Below is a tale of my recent adventure, riding my bike home, from Winter Park to Golden Colorado, via Rollins Pass, a road used throughout history for different purposes. I hope you enjoy reading it!

How’s the market?

It is as hot as ever and there are no signs of it slowing down. With high buyer demand and influx of out of state migration, low-interest rates, and a market that is competitive as any of us have ever seen, you need a real estate professional on your team to expertly guide you.

If you have a home you would like to sell, now is the time to use multiple offers to your advantage by having more terms in your favor. If you need to buy, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will get you under contract and to the closing table.

I always start each real estate opportunity with clear and concise communication with all parties, especially the other agent. Building rapport is first and foremost the most crucial part of the real estate game. It is about building relationships and finding the common thread between everyone’s desires. I promise to get your foot in the door while being your advocate throughout the entire process, even after the closing day.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you, your friends, and your family.

The Needles Eye

One might assume I am referring to the tight presidential race, and another might think I am discussing the well-known bidding wars in the housing market throughout Colorado and much of the country. Both are nerve-racking, competitive, and have slim margins. Yet for this month, days following the election, I chose to write about a lighter topic, my two-wheeled adventure from Winter Park to Golden Colorado, over the Needles Eye Tunnel, just one mile east of the continental divide.

First, a little History Lesson…

Rollins Pass sits at 11,670 feet, and was at one time, the highest railroad pass in America, transporting passengers and cargo from Denver to Salt Lake City. Prior to being a railroad, it was the Boulder Wagon Road, where in 1865, John Quincy Adams Rollins led 100 Mormons with their 39 wagon teams over the BWR, aka Boulder Pass. Preceding Boulder Pass, the route was originally named “Old Ute Trail” and even has record as far back as 10,000 years ago where prehistoric humans traveled this pathway and was used for summer hunting grounds.

The railway was abandoned in 1928, when the Moffat Tunnel and automobiles replaced the railway. This all ended in 1990 when a rock fell from the tunnel’s celling and closed the pass to motor vehicle traffic ever since. To this day, the road closure remains a heated and controversial debate between its users and some officials who want to keep it closed.

Now the bike adventure!

The initial thought to traverse these two mountain passes came to me earlier this spring when looking at a map for new bike routes. It dawned on me that there was excellent biking adjacent to each pass that you could ride from town, just on either side of the Continental Divide. Then right in front of me lay the ribbon that tied it all together, Rollins Pass, aka Corona Pass, very fitting for the given year of 2020. 72 miles, 6,552 of elevation gain all said and done.

This route became the topic of discussion during rides amongst friends throughout the summer. Then the opportunity presented itself…a Birthday weekend getaway to Winter Park the first week of October. Our wives and kids would return home to Golden via cars, and we would ride home on bikes.

Our journey started that morning at 9:30 and we began to climb the Rendezvous singletrack out of Winter Park. Brody was on his Niner full suspension carbon mountain bike, and I was on a steel framed Proudfoot Cycles drop bar mountain bike with front suspension. The trail soon led way to Corona pass, and an easy grade assent past old, abandoned trestles, high alpine lakes, and remnants of the old railroad bed. After a few hours, we reached the top of the pass, overlooking Grand County to the west, and Boulder County to the east.

What came next was the highlight. Long trestle bridges with sheer exposure and an airy perch that will surely make you feel alive, floating high among the clouds, and overlooking the mountains below. Next, we approached The Needle Eye Tunnel: The last major crux before the long decent into Rollinsville. This is the Eye of the Needle, the very narrow opening that allows the opportunity to connect two high mountain dirt roads. In this instance, the opportunity no longer permits travel through the tunnel, it lies above. The tunnel itself is barricaded off for safety reasons (remember the falling boulder from the celling?) yet a trail to the side allows a quick but steep hike-a-bike up and over. And just like that, we were on the other side, and all downhill to Golden.

Not quite. The decent into Rollinsville was not that enjoyable. Very rocky, jarring, and mentally challenging having to constantly and carefully select the right line to take, for several miles. At this moment, I wished I had brought a full suspension bike. We did take a lunch break next to Jenny Creek, where I topped off my water supply. As we neared town, the pavement was a reprieve and we were soon back to gaining elevation, climbing up Highway 119, The Peak-to-Peak Highway, headed for Golden Gate Canyon.

Golden Gate Canyon is stunning this time of year. The aspens are peaking in color, the sun is warm, and the scenery is gorgeous! We cut diagonally through the state park via gravel, pavement, and sweet singletrack, leading us to the infamous and quite steep 5 mile climb up Drew Hill Road. At the top, we were rewarded with our first views of the cityscape. Happy to see home in the distance, and sad to leave the mountains behind. A quick descent to our next adventure, White Ranch Open Space. Rather than descending a favorite trail amongst rowdy mountain bikers, we chose an easier route down Belcher Hill, which still has occasional rock fields and obstacles to maneuver.

North Table Mesa was a natural choice to continue our journey west while traveling on as much dirt as possible. On the east side of NTM, lies New Terrain, a favorite hangout to enjoy brews, views, and the company of good friends. We ran into friends yet did not stay due to the long wait to be seated… for a beer! Dang Covid.

South Table Mesa was next, as we skirted the east side of the open space park, gaining as little elevation as possible, while again, remaining on dirt. As we neared the south side of STM, Green Mountain came into view. This was home. We entered the neighborhood trails, and it was time to say goodbye, ironically at the point that we typically say hello when meeting up for a ride! This was the fork in the road that took us home via trail, and was the end to our day’s journey, arriving home at dusk. I enjoyed a lovely meal around the fire with my family, a glass of wine, and chocolate brownies to top off the birthday weekend.

A few weeks pass, and Brody presents the next challenge…. Golden to Winter Park, the same route, simply in reverse.

Next year, 2021, bring it on!

Thank you for reading!

Troy Lyon