Sunday, February 9, 2014

ride the rockies 2014 route

The Denver Post Ride The Rockies announced their 2014 route on Saturday night. It's an almost loop, starting in Boulder, and ending about 20 miles south in Golden. Really seems like they're opposed to the loop, huh? Anyway, it should come as no surprise that this route includes plenty of climbing and descending, and an abundance of spectacular scenery.
Day 1 will take riders on roads frequented by many professional cyclists who call Boulder home, joining the Peak-to-Peak Highway at Nederland, and heading south to Black Hawk and Central City. Then, heading west and parallel to I-70 they will pass through Idaho Springs on the way to Empire. The second half of this day could be challenging. But if they still have the legs to get up Berthoud Pass, they'll be rewarded with some great views, and a nice descent into Winter Park.
Riders will head north/northwest on day 2 through Granby and Kremmling on their way to Steamboat Springs. The climbs over Muddy Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass (both summits) would not be considered difficult climbs. But, 75 miles into the ride, they're enough of a challenge. And, riders will get to descend the steeper side of Rabbit Ears all the way into Steamboat with great views off to the west.
Day 3 is a 53 mile loop out west od Steamboat Springs. I've never ridden on those roads, but I'm certain that the surroundings are as good as it gets for ride in the countryside.

The fourth day takes riders back on part of the route from day 3 to Oak Creek, then heads southeast towards Avon. It looks like about 50 miles of slowly gaining altitude, followed by a nice descent down into the valley where they'll cross the Colorado River. Which leads to a climb of CO 131 Summit. Again, not bad on it's own, but towards the end of a long day, it will be hot, and it will seem steeper than it really is.
Day 5 will cover two thirds of the Copper Triangle. I love this ride over Battle Mountain Summit, Tennessee Pass, and Fremont Pass. But, I would always choose to do it from the other direction if I had the choice.
Once they've reached the summit of Fremont Pass they will be treated to a fast downhill all the way to Copper Mountain where they'll hop on the bike path to Frisco and beyond to Breckenridge.
The final day isn't the longest, but it's a big one. Riding north out of Breckenridge, riders will turn to the east on Swan Mountain Road for a short, but invigorating climb over Swan Mountain. US Highway 6 will take them past Keystone and  onto the climb up Loveland Pass. It's not the longest climb in Colorado, but when you see this sign, you know you have some work to do.
After the summit of Loveland Pass it's almost all downhill from there. There's a little climb on the west side of Lookout Mountain, but the east side will deposit riders down all the way into Golden. If I was doing this tour I know that I would think that making the last day a century would get you back to Boulder where the whole thing started. But after 20 miles that included Swan Mountain and Loveland Pass, and 60 miles of downhill and rollers to get to Golden, I think I would change my mind, get on the bus and get back to Boulder.

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