Le Tour des Trois Cols
A friend told me about a route in Deer Creek that Jonathan Vaughters had named. I knew the route, but didn’t know Vaughters had beaten me to the punch. Vaughters is a Colorado wunderkind who raced with US Postal and Credit Agricole. He now manages Garmin-Cervelo. Among his many local credits are as the three-time champion of the Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb. The dude was seriously fast back in the day. So I tracked the route down in an old 5280 post online from 2002, when Vaughters was back in Colorado pretending to be a regular human being. He calls it an “all-time leg breaker,” but I don’t know. Maybe if you start in Denver as he suggests, adding 40 miles along the Platte River and C-470 Trail. Either way, the loop is a good one, longer and more intense than the City View Loop, shorter and less painful than the Black Mountain Loop. With the Tour De France about to start, I thought a french titled route would be good. If you want to impress your friends on the next group ride, just say something in Gallic tones about La Grande Boucle and shrug expressively. If you stub out your Gitane and then dust them going up the first col, even better.
If you are merely mortal, start at the usual place, Platte Canyon Rd and Deer Creek Canyon Rd. Head uphill, ignoring the Siren Song of High Grade Road at Phillipsburg. Climb the first col (9 miles) then ride down to the junction of North and South Turkey Creek roads, passing turn-off to City View, but maybe stopping at the Inter-Canyon Fire Department station for a re-group (at the junction of South Deer Creek Canyon Road and South Turkey Creek Road). I know the names are confusing, but on the ground it becomes much clearer. There’s a burger and pizza place at the Turkey Creek roads junction near US 285, so look for it. Go left under US 285 and begin an easy climb up N. Turkey Creek Rd. Go right on High Drive, a little more than a mile past US 285. The steep climbing starts here and continues for 3+ miles to the second col. Drop down into Evergreen where you’ll find plenty of convenience stores at which to refuel and empty your tank. Cruise down Highway 74 to to the sleepier and funkier burg of Kittredge, famous (in my mind at least) as the long-time home of the Senator who would have been king but for some monkey business in 1988. Sic transit gloria.
Just east of town proper, turn south on Meyers Gulch Road. Start climbing the third col, definitely the shortest of the three. Cruise down Parmalee Gulch Road to US 285. Follow the signs (left) to Bailey, not Denver. Here you have a small dilemma: ride 1/3 mile on the shoulder of 285 then exit to S Turkey Creek Rd by crossing the highway, or stay on the shoulder for two miles back to the N Turkey Creek exit. If you cross 285 to regain S Turkey Creek Rd, you have the pleasure of riding through Tiny Town, which in my mind is always more interesting than flinching at traffic on 285. Both options lead you back to the fire station at the base of col one. Go left up S Deer Creek Canyon Rd. Climb the half mile back to the top, preferably in your big chain ring if you want to be taken seriously. Enjoy the long descent back down to your starting place.
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