Over the last couple of years, I've looked at the Colorado Death Ride Tour as a bike tour that might be interesting. It's a charity ride to benefit Children's Hospital and the ALS society that follows the route of the Colorado Death Ride but over 3 days rather than 1. It's amazing to me that anyone can ride the Death Ride in a single day -- it's 232 miles with 16,500 feet of climbing. Three days to accomplish the task seemed much better to me.
As to the course, it is amazing; through some of the most beautiful country in Colorado if not in the US. It starts in Silverton, Colorado, an old mining town at about 9.300 feet. Day one goes from Silverton to Telluride over Red Mountain Pass and the Dallas Divide. Day two goes from Telluride to Durango over Lizard Head Pass and Hesperus Pass. Day three is short in mileage but has the most climbing: from Durango back to Silverton over Coal Bank Pass and Molas Pass.
Here we are at the start of the ride -- we had a few more than 300 riders on the tour.
After leaving Silverton, we started the climb of Red Mountain Pass. Initially, it's pretty flat, but you soon come to the bend before the start of the ramp to the summit -- boy, is the view back into the box canyon spectacular!
On the ramp on the south side of the pass looking back toward Silverton:
From the turnout on the north side of the pass, everything was a wonderful shade of green.
Looking down at the shelf that the road runs on:
The descent was quite good until we hit this spot in the road. CDOT decided to chip seal the road, and while they had swept it, the gravel was fresh enough to cause an abundance of caution. Plus fresh chip seal is pretty rough.
Outside of Ridgeway is one of Colorado's most picturesque ranges of mountains: The Sneifels' Range. At this point, you are riding rollers with an uphill bent toward the second climb of the day, the Dallas Divid. But this is an amazing spot.
My time was suffering a bit as I stopped numerous times to take photos. Of course, they are only crappy iPhone photos, but you get the idea:
The rest of Day One was relatively unremarkable except for the hot climb into Telluride. But the view, once you cleared the hill, was well worth it. The box canyon that houses Telluride -- is it any surprise that folk love to come her for more than the skiing?
I've been debating whether to get a ski house. In T-ride, I was introduced to the concept of a ski shack -- note the address:
Day one was 73 miles and 5,300 feet of climbing. A really rewarding ride.
Day two was from Telluride to Durango. As the forecast for temps in the lower elevations of a long day (110 miles) were in the upper 90's, my buddy and I got an early start. Leaving Telluride you get an immediate steep (8+%) ramp which got the blood flowing. A 10 minute climb brought me to a view of Mount Wilson:
Continuing on, you start to see the mountain massive next to Lizard Head Pass:
Our ride this day was combined (for the first 64 miles) with day one of Ride the Rockies, so there were plenty of cyclists observing the view in the turnout
Approaching the summit, the view gets even better.
And looking into the valley beside the summit was promising -- too bad the scene was backlight...
After the summit, there was 50 miles of downhill to Dolores, where we departed from Ride the Rockies and headed to Mancos. A nice view helped diminish the effects of the temperatures near 90 with 20 mph side winds.
Day two wound up being 113 miles for me after I rode past the hotel and had to backtrack with 4,700 feet of climbing. One of the longer rides I've done, I finished in 6 hours of ride time.
Day three was short (only 53 miles) but had 5,700 feet of climbing. Leaving Durango, there are lovely bluffs that fail to portend the vertical rise in front of us. The first 15 miles was pretty flat and fast, although the road surface was relatively rough -- I find it hard to push the pace on rough road.
We soon met up with the main road to Silverton and were rewarded with a view of Engineer Mountain.
Approaching the top of Coal Bank Pass, the view is a bit different:
To be honest, I'm not quite sure where this shot is from -- perhaps the bottom between Coal Bank and Molas passes?
This one is looking back at the toward Coal Bank Pass from the valley between.
And on the descent of Molas Pass, I was rewarded with a wonderful view of my destination: Silverton.
So, the ride is definitely worth the effort of training and riding it. It does require a fair bit of training to get in a position to ride three relatively big days of cycling -- the issue is the effort of any one day, but the ability to recover to ride the next day. But the payoff was immense.
As I mentioned, this was a charity bike ride. I don't know the final tally raised, but it was well over $100,000. A pretty good result.