Last June, I did an out-and-back ride on my hardtail 29er from downtown Leadville to the summit of Weston Pass with the Hut as my turn-around point. I was looking for a ~4 hour ride at high elevation that would have long steady climbing and saddle time (with no crazy hike-a-biking or backwoods routefinding!).
The ride was 40 miles, and took me a little over four hours. Heading out of town on county road 4 to highway 24 was a nice friendly warmup heading slightly downhill. Then coming off of highway 24 I enjoyed the rolling hills to the base of the Weston Pass road, where winter parking is for hut access. I reached the parking lot around 45 minutes into the ride, and from there it was about another hour and forty five minutes of steady climbing to the top! I encountered a couple of cars, an ermine, countless chipmunks, and really nice conditions for riding. At the hut, I had a snack and did a little stretching, then headed back down. The descent took about a half hour and was really flowing and lovely, with views of Mt. Elbert. Then the ride back into town was, predictably, a bit of a grind, and good training.
This is a good ride for riders with a moderate level of experience and anyone training for the Leadville race series. It’s not technical at all, just a lot of steady climbing. You can do the version I did if you’re early on in your training (or if you’re just looking for a relatively friendly ~4 hour ride), or do the hill-repeats version for a harder session. This would also be a fun ride to do with others, because the road allows for side-by-side riding that singletrack does not! — Coutenay Brown