Sunday, February 21, 2016

loveland pass

The first day of the 2016 edition of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour will have riders heading west from Idaho Springs toward Loveland Pass. On his website, mybicycleroutes, Mark Andrysiak rates the east side ascent of Loveland as moderately difficult based upon altitude and some sections of 9% grade. He also claims it's the "easiest" moderate climb in Colorado. However, he bases that on starting from the Loveland Ski Area parking lot, leaving only 4 miles and about 1000' of elevation gain to the summit. CRMBT's tour director, Peter Duffy, rates the climb from Idaho Springs as a Category 1, based on 4200' of climbing over 28 miles. Only an HC (for the French term: beyond categorization) would be more difficult. What does all of this mean? It means that I'll be climbing all morning, but the first 24 miles will be a more gradual elevation gain, with the real push to the top coming in the last 4 miles. I can do that.
Assuming I make it to the top, my reward will be a nice long descent down the west side of Loveland Pass; 8 miles of twists and turns, and then slightly downhill for the next 15 miles. The only thing left between me and Breckenridge, our home for the night, will be Swan Mountain. It's only 500' over 3 miles, but near the end of the ride I'm sure it will live up to its nickname, the "horrible hump". The top affords some nice views of Frisco and the Dillon Reservoir before  a short descent and  a few miles left to Breckenridge.
Some serious altitude, but only 50 miles or so makes this opening day seem do-able. It's kind of like going from base camp to camp 2 to acclimatize, and back down to base camp. I'm looking forward to climbing Loveland Pass from the east side so I'll know what to expect when I eventually return for the Triple Bypass. Overall I think this is an excellent first day's route on the best bike tour in Colorado.  Day 2 will be a little longer, a little less altitude, but containing some of my favorite descents. I have some serious training to do.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been up the East side of Loveland or Swan and looking forward to that anyway.