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Bicycle Tour of Colorado

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
So, you may have seen my report on the Bicycle Tour of Colorado in the Getting in Shape Thread:  http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/83332/pj-marcus-commit-to-getting-in-shape-for-2009-2010/150#post_1107959
but I thought I'd post a bit differently here about the tour itself.  This was my first mult-day bike tour, and it was a dousy!  There were about 1800 cyclists on the tour, which was amazing to me as this was a pretty intense tour:  515 miles, and over 30,000 feet of climbing.

The BTC has been run for more than a decade, so they seem to do a pretty good job with the logistics.  There were a few glitches, such as repeatedly running out of toilet paper the first couple of days, and caterers (rotating by city) couldn't figure out how to serve breakfast in a timely manner.  It's an early rising group, with folk generally attempting to be on the road around 6 or so AM in order to minimize the likelihood of being caught in a thunderstorm on top of a pass, so the line was half an hour long (or longer) at 5AM when they started serving breakfast.  By the end of the tour, they figured out that multiple buffet lines would cut the line to the point it was virtually non-existant, and folk were much happier.

The terrain and rides were phenomenal.  I've driven through some of the territory, but seeing it from a bike was fantastic.  This year, the tour started and ended in Glenwood Springs, and started two days after Ride the Rockies finished.  There were some sick folk who actually rode both RTR (380 miles this year) and the BTC (515 miles, with the option of an additional 40 miles).  The first day's ride was over McClure Pass, which was the steepest climb of the tour -- 3 miles of roughly 8% grade.  The second day was the highlight of the trip for me -- a climb over Grand Mesa from the south.  The views coming over the north rim of the mesa were unbelievable -- huge aspen forests with tons of lakes immediately below you, and in the distance the transition to the desert mesas of the Colorado Plateau.  Truly amazing scenery.   Day three you could do an optional (unsupported) 40 loop through the Colorado National Monument in addition to the 65 miles from Grand Junction to Montrose.  I didn't do the option, as I was uncertain how I'd react to the additional miles and climbing (this would have made for 3 near century days in a row, in addition to the 85 miles on the first day).  I'd guess 15-20% of the cyclists did do the option, and it was the highlight of their day.

We next had a long day to Crested Butte -- this section of the ride had everything from desert, to meadows lining the climb, to a long mesa ride along Blue Mesa Reservoir, to a gentle climb into the hole of Crested Butte which surrounded by confluence of three mountain ranges:  the Elks, Mosquitos, and Collegiate Peaks.  Next up was a ride over Cottonwood Pass, with the climb being on a very well maintained and compacted dirt road -- about 14 miles worth.  I had a miserable descent as I got caught in deluge of a thunderstorm, but those who didn't claimed this was an amazing descent -- very fast and open.  The final day was 104 miles over Independence pass back to Glenwood Springs.

All in all, this was a great tour, and I highly recommend it.  However, it is purportedly a tough tour, and while I'm inexperienced in such things, many folk believe it is one of the toughest multi-day tours out there, much tougher than Ride the Rockies.  I think it is pretty well put together.

I did the "Camping Domestique" option from The Shuttleguy.  They set up/take down a tent for you, transport your luggage, provide a clean dry towel, and beverages.  I thought it was a necessary option so I wasn't relegated to setting up my tent on the last site available, which was likely to be rocky, in a swamp, next to the porta-potties, or all three.

In any case, this is a tour I highly recommend to those of you interested in a very strenous bike tour.

Mike
post #2 of 20
 Sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Michael
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
I bet you'd really like it, Michael.  It's a great ride. 
post #4 of 20
I would like to do an event like this. As you did, I would need to really train hard to make it happen. It would be worth every minute of training and add years of fitness to my life.

I'm getting to the point that without hills to climb my cycling will no longer provide huge fitness gains. Cycling in Colorado must be awesome.

Michael
post #5 of 20
Hey congrats on the successful completion Mike -- great job.
post #6 of 20
Sound like fun....I did RTR and should have gone ahead and done this tour as well.  You missed out on the Monument though as I think it is one of the best rides in CO.

Here's a real tough ride......

www.everestchallenge.com/


On my bucket list....
post #7 of 20
 Mike, I'm extremely excited for you.  I know what a commitment you have to your fitness, which seems to have become a commitment to a whole lot more fun.

SkiDawg, if you and Mike have not met, you should.

Checked out your pics of the RTR,...do you ever get complacent about the scenery when you ride?  It is gorgeous out there!

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

SkiDawg, if you and Mike have not met, you should.

Checked out your pics of the RTR,...do you ever get complacent about the scenery when you ride?  It is gorgeous out there!
 


I'd love to meet Mike and ski with him or ride.  Y

You certainly can't get complacent about the views this year as everything is so green and lush....wildflowers are everywhere with all the rain we've had!
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post

I would like to do an event like this. As you did, I would need to really train hard to make it happen. It would be worth every minute of training and add years of fitness to my life.

I'm getting to the point that without hills to climb my cycling will no longer provide huge fitness gains. Cycling in Colorado must be awesome.

Michael
 

29er bike and Kettle Moraine ;)

or go find your local crit I am sure that will get you into better shape. I have been down to watch but hard efforts still hurt my achilles as soon that stop happening Ill be down there.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post

I would like to do an event like this. As you did, I would need to really train hard to make it happen. It would be worth every minute of training and add years of fitness to my life.

I'm getting to the point that without hills to climb my cycling will no longer provide huge fitness gains. Cycling in Colorado must be awesome.

Michael
 

Climbing certainly provides some additional challenge.  But you can still get great benefits by riding faster, riding into a wind, and/or doing interval training.  It was amazing to me to see folk from Florida on the BTC -- one guy was from Miami and the only hill training he could get was riding a 40 foot bridge.  He made all of the climbs.  There was an older guy from Chicago who rode Ride the Rockies then immediately started the BTC.  Amazing.

Michael, set it as a goal to come out and ride BTC or RTR.  You'll love the ride, I'm convinced.

Mike
post #11 of 20
 Hi Mike,

I'm going to begin interval training this week. I'm motivated to keep making progress, plus there is a local group-ride nearby that I want to stay with. That should keep me working hard for the rest of the year.

Next year I'm going to do a few multi-day events. Who knows, in 2011 I might join you in Colorado  .

Cheers,

Michael
post #12 of 20
WILDCAT you should go hit RAGBRAI. That's not too far from you and it sure is a great time on two wheels. 
post #13 of 20
He really should. 
post #14 of 20
good job.  i am signed up for next year. what strenth training program did you use?
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

I had a cycling coach who designed it for me, but it looks a lot like Joe Friel's strength training program from "The Cyclists Training Bible."  It's now the offseason, so I'm trying to build my strength for next year (as opposed to maintain it).  Currently, my strength training load is twice a week of the following:

 

3 reps of 10 on the ground squat machine (weight to reach exhaustion on final rep)

3 reps of 10 lunges on the ground squat machine

3 reps of 12 deadweight lifts

 

and a bunch of other stuff to balance the rest of the body (dumbell press, dumbell combinations, seated rows, shoulder shrugs, planks, bicycles, and tricep pushups).

 

For next year, you need to get lots of riding.  I was riding between 250-280 miles a week in the final 6 weeks before the BTC, with lots of climbing.  I recommend hiring a cycling coach to set up a training program.  If you don't want to do that, then follow a good training program such as Friel's or purchase one from Training Peaks.

I'm 99% sure I'm going to do it again.  Next year is shorter, but the climbs are steeper.  Guess it will provide the motivation to lose the rest of the weight I need to get rid of.

 

Mike

post #16 of 20
Mike -

Smart idea, doing some strength work to build a better base for 2010.

Another good training plan option is from Graeme Street and his CycloClub system: tons of workouts, catering to different goals.  Street knows his stuff (experienced and well-schooled physical trainer and a decent cyclist, to boot), and I know a lot of people who have gotten great results with his plans.

All the climbing is enticing.  I tend to go out of my way to ride climb-laden routes, and my planned events for 2010 feature a lot of climbing:

- Mountains of Misery (Memorial Day weekend, Blacksburg, VA).  It's early enough in the season that I think I'll stick to the English century (which I've done the past two years), rather than the double metric.  The last climb is a killer: 5km that averages 11.5%, maxing out a tad over 16%, with the ride finish at the end (around 10,000' of climbing on the 104-mile route, 13,000' on the 125).  For folks who climb in the Rockies, it's worth coming to this ride to see that we do, in fact, have some nasty climbs here in the east (other than Mt. Washington).

- Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge (first Saturday in August, Monterey, VA).  Not as difficult as MoM in terms of steepness, but it has nine climbs over 100 miles, fairly relentless, with around 10,000' of climbing.  But the area is so beautiful that the pain is worth it.

- Great River Ride (early October, Westfield, MA).  Held in the midst of peak foliage season in the Berkshires, this is a ride that has a lot of climbing (8,500') with lots of great scenery over 110 miles.  It's not as sinister as the other two in terms of vertical, but it's late enough in the season that it's a good test.

A couple of years back, I rode the Shasta Summit Super Century in northern California.  I can't recommend this ride highly enough, as its route and organization are top-notch.  The route is 131 miles with four summits, the last one being on the flanks of Mt. Shasta.  Climbing total for the day is 16,500' - a lot of climbing.  This ride is comparable in scope to a Tour de France stage, with two Cat 2 and two Cat 1 climbs in the mix.

And this past summer, I rode the Harpoon Brewery-to-Brewery Ride: 148 miles from Boston, MA, to Windsor, VT (i.e. from one Harpoon brewery to the other).  The route isn't overly hilly, though there are two decently steep climbs along the way (8,125' of climbing over the distance - not terrible, really).  And the jersey you get is always cool.

But a multi-day tour, like RTR or BTC might be a nice option, too.  Granted, the clarion call of the Alpes, Pyrenees and Dolomites is tough to ignore, but the cost of such a venture is a bit outside of my range right now.

Anyhow - congrats, Mike!  Hope to see you on the road sometime!
post #17 of 20
 all of those ride pail in comparison to the Wilderness 101 or Shenandoah 100. 
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

 all of those ride pail in comparison to the Wilderness 101 or Shenandoah 100. 

Sure, and those pale in comparison to TdF. So what?
post #19 of 20
I know you're going to try and get me to switch back to my former mountain biking ways.  Ain't gonna happen, man - at least not until I can afford a new off-road rig and the place to store it. 

And I've had invites from friends to ride the SM100.  Some day, perhaps, but it just holds zero interest to me right now.

And where is this "pail" you speak of? 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

 all of those ride pail in comparison to the Wilderness 101 or Shenandoah 100. 
post #20 of 20

Hi Mike, I know this thread is old but I found it while searching for reviews and for more info on the BTC, which I plan on doing in 2013. I was wondering about how much the "Camping Domestique" option from The Shuttleguy cost and if there were any issues with that. I do want to camp outside, but am hoping the Shuttleguy option was worth it and was a reasonable cost. 
Thanks!

Kristine

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