Saturday, January 25, 2014

bicycle tour of colorado 2014 route

I love cycling in Colorado! Big surprise, right? As such, even though CRMBT is my favorite tour, I'm still curious about where Ride The Rockies and Bicycle Tour of Colorado will go. The Denver Post Ride The Rockies will host a route announcement party in 2 weeks. The route for BTC has been out for a while and I have a few thoughts.
First, this southwest Colorado loop is one of my favorites. I've ridden every mile of this route, some sections more than once. And, with the exception of the 80+ mile stretch from Durango to Ridgway, I've ridden this route going both directions. I know where the climbing is tough, and the descents are awesome.
The first day isn't too long, the climbing not that tough, and it's scenic in it's own special way. It passes Blue Mesa Reservoir, goes over Cerro Summit, and has a nice downhill run into Montrose.

The second day is a 34 mile ride to Ouray that could go from being just a ride, to a great day, by turning at Ridgway and climbing Dallas Divide. I hope BTC will support that up and back with an aid station at the summit.
Ouray to Durango would be a new adventure for me. CRMBT did Durango to Ouray in 2009, and it was one of the best days on a bike I've ever had. Climbing Purgatory Hill, Coal Bank Pass, Molas Divide, and Red Mountain Pass led a to a steep, technical, winding descent into Ouray. I can't quite imagine climbing Red Mountain Pass out of Ouray, but I guess that will be payment for the right to climb Slumgullion, later in the week, from the "easy" side.
The ride from Durango features nice scenery, a little climbing, and a great place for a rest day in Pagosa Springs.
After the rest day, the route heads over beautiful Wolf Creek Pass to Creede. It's definitely worth a stop at the scenic overlook a couple miles up.
The final day features a century that lets riders climb Spring Creek Pass and Slumgullion Pass from the more manageable side. Shortly before Spring Creek is the headwaters of the Rio Grande. It's worth a stop for the view.
After a crazy descent off of Slumgullion into Lake City, riders will still have more than 50 miles to the finish line. A lot of up and down through some beautiful, rugged terrain for the first part of the afternoon. Then you hit your last obstacles of the week. No Name Hill and Nine Mile Hill are nice little warm-ups when you ride out of Gunnison and head south. After several hours and a lot of miles, these hills can jump up and bite you in the butt. Get over those and it's back to Blue Mesa, head east and work your way back to Gunnison.
Hopefully you'll have the wind at your back for that last bit.

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