While not high enough for the thin air to be a serious problem, as I will encounter in the Andes or the Karakoram on my world tour, Hoosier pass in Colorado's central Rockies is still an accomplishment savored by thousands of cyclists each year. On sunny days in midsummer the sign is flooded with bicycles and weary riders, as my weary texan friend suggests. Hoosier pass is one of 14 continental divide crossings on the TransAmerica trail, plotted out in 1976 for the US Bicentennial Celebration. It is also a useful midpoint in a cross-country tour; riders coming from the west are saying goodbye to the high mountains...no significant climb beckons until you hit the Appalachians in Kentucky. Indeed the descent from Hoosier Pass takes you quickly out of the central Rockies and onto the high Colorado plains at Pueblo. To an easterner, used to foothills and foothills and more foothills, this abrupt transition is most unusual.
The mountains that surround you are over 14,000 feet high, but appear quite tame since the local relief is more like 3000 feet, easily obtained in the Appalachians or western coastal ranges. The Colorado rockies lack a dominant presence, a towering majesty, that the Cascades possess further west, or the Andes do much further south. So far only in the Teton Ranges of Wyoming have I seen the Rockies take on an unquestionably unique character.