Fires in Fort Collins have played havoc with Bicycling Racing Association of Colorado’s ability to stage a championship race for masters and juniors this year. The Fort Collins Cycling Festival was slotted to host the races this year but the High Park Fire, which destroyed 90,000 acres west of Fort Collins, made that impossible. With little time to organize, BRAC, Lima Beans Cycling, and Team Rocky Mountain Health Plans pulled together both a masters and a juniors state championship. The new location is in Keenesburg, Colorado, just 50 minutes from Denver on I-76. I haven’t ridden the course yet but hope to this weekend. The race will also be a fundraiser to help those affected by the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires, a chance as BRAC puts it, “for the cycling community to come together and show Colorado that we care.” Rocky Mountain Health Plans has kicked off the fundraising with a $500 donation. The racing begins at 8:30 a.m., August 19 with the juniors headed out on a 19K course, followed in short order by everyone else. You can find the race flyer here and sign up here.
Southwestern Jefferson County has been the site of multiple large fires over the past 20 years, Buffalo Creek (1996), Hi Meadows (2000), Hayman (2002), and the Lower North Fork (2012). The Buffalo Creek Fire, through which the BMB Time Trial runs, burned almost 12,000 acres, the result of many years of fire suppression and very high fuel loads of dead branches and undergrowth. Two months later, it rained leaving behind a mess of mud, burned trees, and a weird lunar landscape.
Sixteen years later, the Buffalo Creek area looks better, with new undergrowth and the beginnings of new, small trees.
It still has fabulous mountain biking, but I didn’t know there was a time trial there you could do on a mountain bike. The Burn TT is back after a two year absence. If you love pain and suffering and bleeding out through your lungs in the midst of beautiful scenery, this one’s for you. There’s a short course (14 miles) and a long course (22) and both presumably have a fair amount of elevation gain. I’m guessing around 3,000 feet for the long course. This year’s version goes off in just a few short days (Saturday June 2) and space is limited so get your spot before it is too late. Organized and sponsored by Team Evergreen Racing, the same fine people who organize the Triple Bypass. Funny though, the mountain bike people seem to have a better sense of humor.
The Colorado State Time Trial Championships will be held on Saturday, June 16, 2013. Details are here. Shown is a new course in Keenesburg, just a short 40 minute drive up I-76 from Denver. The course is not much further than the 2012 course on the north and east side of DIA and should have much lower traffic volume. Depending on racing age and category, cyclists will ride either 20K or 40K. The course is without any long or steep hills so bring your fastest wheels.
[The original of this post somehow got deleted, so this replaces that posting from early March.]
Singletrack Maps makes beautiful maps for mountain bikers in the Crested Butte, Durango, Ft Collins, Lyons, Golden, and Buffalo Creek areas. They also make race maps for DBC Events, which organizes and promotes, among others, Boulder Roubaix, Mead Roubaix, and the new Candela’s Circuit Race. If you’ve never ridden a Roubaix style race, or are interested in a classic gravel grinder or even something more extreme, like the rides in the Colorado Endurance Series, this is a great place to start. The 18 mile loop takes in the best parts of northeast Boulder back roads, with a particularly stunning stretch along Crane Holllow Rd. If you don’t live in the Boulder area, this is a good introduction to the mix of gravel and paved roads that make up the the cycling grid in Boulder County and that make the County such a great place to be a cyclist.You’re not likely to be alone up here–all these roads are well-traveled by many cyclists, joggers and walkers.
If you are not racing, start this one anywhere. You can ride out from Boulder, park along most of the roads, or find a convenient parking area such as that just west of 39th Street and Neva Rd. There are not a lot of C-stores out here, so it can be handy to pass near your car every loop you make. The loop shown is a an almost even mix of dirt and pavement, with most of the dirt well compacted by the use of magnesium chloride. Ruts, loose gravel, and narrow roads make this an interesting ride. There’s a very detailed description, from a racer’s point of view, of the dirt sections in Russell Harding’s blog, the Road to Cat 1.
If you’ve never ridden in any kind of bicycle race before, a low key time trial is a great way to start. You don’t have to worry about equipment. You don’t have to worry about riding in a pack of rabid cyclists. Even though there are cyclists starting ahead and behind you at 20 second intervals, you’re not racing against them, only against yourself, as you tell your legs, in best Jens Voigt fashion, “You shut up legs, you stop complaining and do what I tell you.” The Bicycling Racing Association of Colorado sanctions two large TT series in the metro area, one in the Spring at Cherry Creek Reservoir, the other in the Fall at Bear Creek Lake Park. Both are open to all comers on (almost) any kind of bike, but Bear Creek is a better place to start. There are only four races (Cherry Creek has seven), the competition is low-key (cyclo-cross season sucks away a lot of super-fast racers), the signup process is less uncertain, and by September you’ve probably been riding long enough to find a form that will allow you to go all out for 15-30 minutes without bursting a gut. Racers are categorized by skill, age, gender, (sometimes all three) and there are two retro categories (fast and faster) for what are essentially citizen racers. Retro just means you’ll be using a regular road bike without any special accoutrements: no deep wheels, no skinsuit, no aero bars. Just your and your bike and a stopwatch. You can read more details about this year’s race here.
The seven mile course is entirely on Park roads and is open to traffic, so the center line is enforced and you have to pay attention to errant motorists gawking at the scenery. The new course is a good one. It eliminates a couple of sharp U-turns, keeps the signature sweeping turns through the park, and adds a fine climb up to the top of Mount Carbon dam. Access the park by car from C-470 and Morrison Rd.
The 2011 Bear Creek Course is shown below for comparison and historical purposes.
Rist Canyon Loop easily makes my top 10 list of favorite loop rides along the Front Range. It is a perfect distance (42 miles), has a slew of both steep and interesting climbing, is surprisingly remote for being so close to Fort Collins, and the bulk of the route wanders through the Roosevelt National Forest or alongside (and looking down on) Horsetooth Reservoir. Were it closer to Denver and Boulder, it’d be overrun with cyclists, sort of like Deer Creek Canyon and Lookout Mountain are. As it is, during the week you’ll be pretty much on your own, with the FC crowd showing up on the weekends. The stretch along Horsetooth Reservoir makes a convenient loop for FC regulars and there’s an annualFort Collins Cycling Festival that usually includes some version of Rist Canyon in its line-up, as a long road race or as a shorter, hill climb.
There are multiple places you could start this loop along Horsetooth Reservoir or in Fort Collins (from where a convenient bike path winds it way along the Poudre River), but I’m a confirmed espresso junky so the hamlet of Bellvue is the only way to go. As you come in from I-25, Fort Collins, and Laporte, look for the Trout Rearing Hatchery sign and dirt parking lot just before Bellvue at the junction of Rist Canyon Rd and Route 23. Park there, suit up, and pedal 50 yards to the Bellvue Bean for a quick espresso jolt or a muffin and you’ll be set to go.
Head west through rolling farm land and just keep going. Soon the farm land disappears and you’ll be climbing through a tight canyon with evergreens pressing in on both sides. Periodically the trees peel back to reveal an old homestead, a dilapidated hay rake, or a small ranch nestled into the hillside. Views of the distant Mummy Range flit in and out of your vision. The climbing is pretty steady, with short breaks where the road levels off for a respite. After five miles or so the canyon walls fall back, and give you a better picture of where you are. The higher you go, the steeper it gets. Pause for a snack and a drink, and enjoy the view at the top.
Drop steeply to Stove Prairie Road. Go left, southeast to Masonville. The road falls out from underneath you for most of this stretch–sometimes steeply, sometimes gradually. The closer you get to Masonville (really not much more than a junction in the road) the less remote the ride feels. Press on. There’s still great riding ahead. Traffic will increase slightly here, bearing tourists and their toys to the reservoir. If you need water or a pit stop, look for the Larimer County Open Space Trailhead on your left, just after topping out of the climb from Masonville. There’s also a liquor store just past Shoreline Dr if you need something stronger. And even though you left Rist Canyon some 20 miles back, there’s still some climbing to do. The road tilts up in short, sharp, shocks three more times before you get back to Bellvue. None of these is very long, but they are steep, mostly in the 8% to 12% range and can be demoralizing if you’ve started to bonk.
The views east across Fort Collins and west across the reservoir more than make up for the minor pain you’ll feel. At the north end of the reservoir the road plunges down once more into the alfalfa fields south of Bellvue. Look for the historic grange as you pull back into town.
In honor of Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, which runs tomorrow, April 10, 2011, here’s the course map for the Colorado version of Paris-Roubaix. Promoted by DBC Events, this is the first year for Mead Roubaix. Mead is a small town just 25 miles of Denver on I-25. In years past, race director Chris Grealish has organized Boulder Roubaix but wanted to give local residents and roads around the Boulder Reservoir a rest. The route features a 66/34 mix of road and dirt, including a steep, 295′ climb four miles before the the finish/lap line. Weather tomorrow predicted to be wet and cool, with highs in the mid-50s and a 60% chance of rain. Find carnage photos from the race here.
This is a current map of the route for the Karen Hornbostel Time Trial Series at Cherry Creek State Park. Sponsored by COBRAS Racing Club and the American Cycling Association, the KHMTT series is a fundraiser for both ACA and the Cancer Fitness Institute in memory of Karen Hornbostel, “a four-time master’s national road champion and recipient of the 2003 Lance Armstrong Spirit of Survivorship award.” The course begins at the edge of the Cherry Creek Reservoir, winds through the wetlands southeast of the reservoir, and crosses back and forth the small creeks that supply the water for the reservoir. Compared to the Bear Creek Time Trial Series held in the fall, this route is wide open. A small hill at mile 6 and a 1.5 mile uphill drag to the finish keep the heart rates high. The series runs for 7 Wednesdays starting mid-April and sells out every year within 24 hours.