If you are signed up for the Triple Bypass and think you need one more hard training ride to be completely ready, here’s the ticket. The Silver Road Half Century starts in Georgetown, rides up and over Guanella Pass, and returns to Georgetown. 48 miles, more or less, and more than 6,000 vertical feet up to a high point of 11,669. Twice. The combination of serious climbing and serious altitude should be irresistible. The SRHC will be held on June 30, 2013, in conjunction with the Guanella Pass Hill Climb, an organized USAC sanctioned race. So if you are into hard rides but not racing, the SRHC is the one for you. The ride is limited to the first 250 riders who sign up and is fully supported with aid stations, first aid support, and Al’s Pit BBQ on the U.S. 285 side of the ride. (Al’s, by the way, is worth a trip in its own right, but probably not when you are halfway through this ride, with 3,000+ feet of climbing still to go.)
You’ll have to get up early–the ride starts at 7:00 a.m. in waves of 50 a few minutes apart to avoid congestion with the racers, the first group of which head out at 8:45. The ride benefits Colorado Lungs4Life, The Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease, Georgetown Trust for Conservation and Preservation, and the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado Junior Development Program. These are serious charities and the ride expects you to raise serious money: registration costs $55 and you must raise $150 or more to enter the ride. At the $150 level you get a beautiful hat and t-shirt. Above that level there are these jerseys and vests from Pactimo.
When it is so hot in Denver that the asphalt starts to get sticky and soft you know there’s only one solution: head to the hills. Let the Colorado Eagle River Ride be your siren’s song and pull you out to the Eagle River Valley for a fabulous, well supported century that benefits SOS Outreach, a local non-profit that builds “character in youth through outdoor adventure.” This year’s ride falls on July 27, 2013 and starts and ends in Beaver Creek. The route is a good one with fine scenery, wonderful climbing from Wolcott up to State Bridge, and a fabulous 20 mile stretch along the Colorado River that’s mostly dirt. But don’t let that stop you. The stretch is remote, beautiful and the road is is decent condition. Total vertical gain is a modest 2,750 feet, so this is a perfect first century if you’ve never tried one before. Sign up here.
Looking for a challenging century ride (or shorter)? Want to keep it close to home? Fabulous views and lots of climbing important to you? Then it is time to check out the Red Rocks Century, a looping swooping, climbing sun-of-a-gun century that will have your thighs burning long before you get to Squaw Pass. Starting in Morrison, the century begins with a jaunt through Red Rocks Park, spins up Highway 74 to Kerr Gulch then loops along US 40 to Idaho Springs where the big climb begins: Squaw Pass from the west side is rated a 4.9 in the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club’s database of climbs and ranks 8th in the state. But who’s bragging? But wait, there’s more. After the 15 miles of pain that Squaw Pass represents you’ll be bombing down to Evergreen from where you’ll start the unheralded but difficult climb up Shadow Mountain Drive (8.5 miles, 5% avg, 15% max). Were that not enough, the climbing finishes out with one of my favorite stretches of steep climbing in the state, up through High Drive, Stanley Park Road and Little Cub (5 miles, 5% avg, 15% max). Now that’s a century. And it is sponsored by Primal Wear so you know the swag is going to be good. Better yet, it is not to late to sign up. The ride happens this year on Sunday, July 8, 2012. Shorter routes are also available. Sign up here. And when you finish and your legs are screaming at you send me a note and let me know how it went. The claimed elevation gain is over 10,000 feet.
If you’ve ever wanted to ride up Boulder Canyon without a car breathing down your neck, you can do it in the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. Now in its eleventh year, the BBC raises scholarship money for the College of Arts and Sciences at CU Boulder. This year’s long course again rides up Boulder Canyon, traverses the Peak to Peak Highway, and descends St. Vrain Canyon to Lyons. Instead of turning south immediately, however, the long course runs up north for a 30 mile loop around Carter Lake–a big improvement over last year’s long course. On the return it passes through the well-traveled and bucolic roads of eastern Boulder County. Other shorter options are also available. Happily, the BBC has raised more than $1.6 million in scholarships for promising students and (sadly) is the single largest source of scholarships within the College. September 8, 2013. Don’t miss out. The 2012 routes are shown below.
The century season comes to a close in Colorado in late August and early September. Two rides round out the season, Venus de Miles and the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. Both are true fundraisers, the one for Greenhouse Scholars, the other for the University of Colorado College of Arts and Sciences. Venus is open only to women. The Buff is open to all. The Venus date is Sunday, September 29, and it starts and finishes in Longmont, with many options for all riders. Fees for Venus are low, approximately $90, but each participant must also donate or raise $75 for Greenhouse Scholars, so the price is comparable to other Colorado centuries. The course promises an interesting tour of eastern Boulder County farmlands with great views of foothills and mountains to the west. The 2012 century map is shown below.
The Deer Creek Challenge did not run in 2012 and may be gone for good. I’ll leave the maps up for their value. The Deer Creek Challenge bills itself as the toughest century in the country. And if you are counting only elevation gain they are probably right, since the DCC weighs in at 12,725 feet which is nothing to sneeze at. But the Triple Bypass comes close in elevation gain (10,990) and most of the Triple’s climbing is at altitude. DCC tops out at 8,700 while the Triple starts at 8,000 feet and climbs three times to 10,000, 11,000 and 12,000 feet. If you plug in these numbers to the oxygen calculators at Altitude.org you quickly discover that you’ve got 10% less oxygen at the top of Loveland Pass than you did at the top of the Black Mountain climb in the Deer Creek Challenge. So it is probably a push. But who really cares? They are both amazing and different rides and each appeals to different kinds of riders. More importantly, if you’re just learning about these two rides today, the Triple is filled by lottery with registration in early January each year. Today, there’s still room for you if you want to do the reverse Triple (Avon to Bergen Park) or the Double Triple. The DCC is first come-first served and there’s still space in all the rides (there are shorter variations on the long ride). Finally, where the Triple features long, uphill climbs that go on and on, the DCC is punctuated by medium and short length climbs, some of which are desperately steep. The DCC covers familiar ground to metro Denver riders (High Grade, Parmalee Gulch, Brook Forest) and throws in stretches that get less traffic (an out and back along Foxton Road to the N. Fork of the South Platte, City View counterclockwise, Black Mountain Road). The terrain is great, the riding difficult, and the organization is top notch. Add it to the list.
At the back door to the San Luis Valley sit the little town of La Veta, a stone’s throw west of Walsenberg but not on the established route to Alamosa or the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Unless you are a restless wanderer or a kayaker scouting for possible runs on the upper reaches of the Purgatoire River, you probably wouldn’t have any reason to pass through La Veta. And yet there is a gorgeous pass waiting to be climbed.The 2013 version of the Stonewall Century is August 10. You’ll have a chance to climb Cuchara Pass twice. The Stonewall Century is that rarity among Colorado rides: an out and back. It starts in La Veta, climbs up past the old Cuchara Valley Ski Area (now trying to reinvent itself as a four season destination resort!) tops out on the Pass at just under 10,000 feet, and drops down to the small hamlet of Segundo for lunch and the turnaround. Cuchara Pass is rated as a 2.9 and a 1.3 (north and south) in the database of climbs that the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club maintains, which puts the pass (or at least the north side of it) somewhere near the low middle of Colorado passes in difficulty, harder than Vail, Berthoud, and Lookout Mountain, but not as hard as Deer Creek/High Grade, Super Flagstaff, or Squaw/Juniper. But don’t be fooled. There are 7,500 feet of climbing. The climbs on each side average about 3.5%, but that’s deceptive since the measuring starts at La Veta and Trinidad respectively. And with a stretch near the top called Soul Crusher Hill, you’ve got to expect that the climbs will get steeper before you reach the top. But that’s why we do this kind of thing, isn’t it?
This map and the profile below are both done by George Rooney, whose cartography work with Team Evergreen I’ve long admired.
The Copper Triangle is an old favorite organized by Davis Phinney to benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. The 2013 date is August 3. Phinney is a celebrated Olympic and professional cyclist, and is married to Connie Carpenter, herself an Olympic speed skating and cycling medalist. Together they raised Taylor, the latest wunderkind on the professional cycling circuit. Davis Phinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000 and has devoted his foundation life to raising funds for research and treatment of the disease ever since. These are good people in a hard fight so if you are looking for one organized alpine ride to do this year, the Copper Triangle is a great choice. It is short at 78 miles and the elevation gain (5,981) is doable with a moderate amount of training. After climbing from Copper Mountain up Fremont Pass to Leadville you ride downhill to Vail where you begin a long pull up the west side of Vail Pass, much the longer and steeper of the two sides. And even if you are not able to make it this year to the Triangle, add the route to your bucket list. It is a good one with simple logistics, relatively easy access to services if things go awry, and many options on starting points and direction. The smart money has you start in Vail. That allows you to get the hardest climb out of the way first and lets you finish in Vail with its relative wealth (compared to Copper Mountain) of restaurants and services.
The 2013 version of the Denver Century Ride has new routes to keep it interesting. The 2013 route heads west from the Stapleton neighborhood to Red Rocks Park and Lookout Mountain before heading north to Arvada and east to southern Adams County. It finishes in Stapleton’s Central Park. There are four routes to choose from: a quarter-century, a metric century, a 75 mile ride without Lookout Mountain and the Hogback, and the full ride.
This year’s ride falls on June 16, 2013. If you’ve never ridden a century before, this is a good place to start–the elevation clocks in at 5,280, which compares favorably with Elephant Rock (5,900 feet), with the Buffalo Bicycle Classic (6,000), with the Stonewall Century (7,500 feet), with the Blue River Century (8,625), with the Triple Bypass ( 10,000), and with the Deer Creek Challenge (12,725). Only Venus de Miles, up in Boulder, has less gain (3,396).
The 2012 routes are shown below.
Elephant Rock is one of the oldest if not the oldest organized rides in the state. The 2012 date is June 3 and the ride takes in great hunks of eastern Douglas County including parts of the Black Forest area. The terrain is rolling eastern plains with (almost predictably strong) strong winds. Rides are available for almost any cyclists. There is a 7 mile family ride that circles the Douglas County Fair Grounds a couple of times, a 25 mile fat tire classic, and a 34, 60, and 100 mile ride. It all begins and ends at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, just off I-25 at exit 161, Plum Creek Parkway. Were that not enough, there’s also a marathon 24 hours of ERock mountain bike race on May 31-June 1 in the Greenland Open Space just south of Castle Rock.