Thursday, February 25, 2016

fremont, tennessee, battle mountain

Day 2 of the 2016 CRMBT takes a wonderful bike path from Breckenridge to Frisco, and Frisco to Copper Mountain. Then it follow two-thirds of a quintessential Colorado ride called the Copper Triangle. This ride takes place the first Saturday of August to raise funds for the Davis Phinney Foundation For Parkinson's. The route leaves Copper Village and head up Fremont Pass, 11,318 feet. From Copper it's about 11 miles of climbing, half in the 2-3% range, half with some spikes over 7%. I've climbed this pass a few times and though it deserves the Cat 1 rating that Peter gives it, I never thought it was that hard. It's relatively straight forward, some traffic, but not too much. And clean, wide shoulders that leave you to worry about nothing but keeping the crank turning.
One drawback is the lack of an awesome descent. It's kind of like the mountain just dumps you off of itself. There's one big sweeping switchback, and before too long you're still going slightly downhill, but you're pedaling to keep up your speed. You really don't lose all that much altitude because the next leg of the triangle is from Leadville to Minturn, and Leadville, at 10,152 feet is the highest incorporated city in the US.
The next part is among my favorite to ride in Colorado. Yes, it's beautiful, but there are dozens?, hundreds? of beautiful places to ride there. I love this section because for a little climbing you get a lot of descending. You're still trending downward the first few miles out of Leadville. Then you've got a little 5 mile climb up Tennessee Pass, 10,424 feet, gaining about 500 feet, with grades in the mid 2% range. You are then rewarded with a descent about 12 miles long, giving back about 1700 feet of elevation.
 Now you face another short climb, this time up Battle Mountain Summit with grades in the mid 4% range, gaining another 500 feet in under 2 miles. Your reward after this climb is another great descent, this one lasting about 15 miles, and taking you almost all the way to Minturn and past to I-70. All that will be left this day is a few miles on the frontage road up to Edwards. I'll turn in early on this night because the next day is a century day with no really high passes, but lots of varied terrain, and enough challenges on the way to make it a big day.

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.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


I haven't done a lot of posting on this bike blog lately, because I haven't done a lot of biking. Two weeks ago I went on a group ride to enjoy a pleasant Saturday in January, and the no-drop ride turned into a fast group, a slow group, and me. (They call themselves a slow group) Actually Greg, the ride organizer hung back with me and we had a nice visit. But, I hadn't been on my bike in over four months, and it showed.
Well, that's going to change! I've been looking at the route for the 10th annual, 2016 CRMBT. Quite frankly I felt a little intimidated. I mean, there's some serious climbing to be done on this tour. But then I read a comment on their forum that this route is the reverse of their 2010 route. Hey, I did that! So as a motivator to train, and get myself back in shape, I signed up. Now if Theo will save a space for me in SherpaVille, I'll be all set.
I'll post more about the route in the near future, but the highlights are Loveland Pass (from the east side, like on the Triple Bypass), two-thirds of the Copper Triangle, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, Peak-to-Peak Highway, and a final day that calls for 60+ miles including Squaw Peak and an up-and-back to Mt Evans. I'll take my camera and my GoPro to document the awesomeness, and hopefully have some good stories to tell from a great Colorado bike tour.