The Argentine->Lenawee->Loveland loop is a ride that I've done the last three years. The last two years, I did it solo and about a month earlier. This year, I was fortunate to have a good friend send me an email on Thursday asking if I was up for a ride. So I told him my plans and he and a friend were interested in joining. They didn't think they'd have the time to complete the whole loop so we met in Keystone at 6:30am, dropped a couple of cars, and made the shuttle back over to Georgetown. We were on the bikes by 7:30am and headed up the first climb (Bike path to Pavillion Point).
I was shocked on the drive up to see so much snow on Bard Peak, Torrey's and even a little on Lenawee Ridge. I was glad I threw my winter hat and a pair of long underwear in my pack before I left.
Within a couple of hours, we were within sight of the top of the climb (Argentine Pass)
With lots of snow in sight too.
After the Waldorf mine (~12,000ft), the real work began. It had been a railroad grade up to this point, but beyond was granny gear and walking to reach the pass. I kept thinking on the way up that we would top out around 13,100ft, but my GPS told me I was off by about 400ft...The pass is at 13,500ft...When we reached the top, it was time to put on all the clothes in the pack to manage the cold and the wind. Just as I started down the pass, my rainpants get caught on the seat and I rip the butt out of them...The rip just got worse and worse on the descent.
For one of the guys, it was his first time riding at this altitude. I think that the mixture of the altitude, cold, and exposure of the trail was a bit intimidating for him. He took two good tumbles off the downhill side of the trail onto the scree (OUCH!!!) Here's a shot of where he fell off the first time.
He ended up banging up his knee and wrist pretty good. But continued to push through his fears and remount his bike to ride through the loose talus that composed the trail.
Anyone who's ridden Argentine Pass into Peru Gulch will remember the 'step' about half way down. In the previous two years, I've had to traverse steep snow fields at the step which really increased the difficulty of this loop. Traversing the snowfields was considerably more difficult that the cornice on Jones because you're always off balance when you move the bike or have to kick in steps to the side instead of straight up. Moving this ride to early August made it much more enjoyable.
A short video of Argentine Pass:
When we reached the base of Lenawee, I was able to convince DK to continue up and over to A-basin with me while DD parted ways and headed down the road to Keystone. We didn't get but a few feet up Lenawee when DK's cassette came loose. Of course, we didn't have a cassette tool so we had to try to tighten it as best we could with my leatherman. It ended up holding the rest of the ride. I didn't get many shots of Lenawee because DK was kicking my butt on the climb and every time I was able to get the camera out he was out of view.
It only took us 2:10 to reach A-basin from the Peru Gulch Rd(including the mechanical issue) and we bombed down the service road to Loveland Pass.
A view of the last climb of the day from the top of the second.
I almost had DK convinced to finish off the loop with me...But it was down to just me climbing up and over Loveland Pass. I made a quick stop at the top to get on more clothes (again) and then it was coasting and cruising down Loveland Pass, BLT, the frontage road, and finally the bike path back to the car.
It took a little over 9hrs this year.
More Pictures here