I know UGASkiDawg did this ride that is 7 days, 5 Colorado passes and a heap of miles.
I would love to hear more about it and hear more from other Bears who do this.
Will post up a TR later this week as soon as I get all the pictures out of my camera! Suffice it to say that it was a great trip and I had an absolute blast. I know at least one other bear was on the ride and he beat me to the new town every day. It was great meeting you Mike and I look forward to skiing with you!
Got back from it last night. Met UGASkiDawg finally -- we were both camped out with the ShuttleGuy -- this makes "camping" as painless as possible.
The event: 2010 Bicycle Tour of Colorado
The Route: Start and end in Gunnison Colorado, ride 6 of 7 days and cross the Continental Divide 4 times.
The distance: total, about 480 miles
Day One was 106 miles from Gunnison to Creede over Slumgullion and Spring Creek Passes. Slumgullion Pass from Gunnison is considered to be one of the toughest rides in Colorado. The tough thing about it is not just it's steepness and duration (two 3 mile sections averaging 9.5% grade separated by a mile of 7%) or its elevation (11,500 feet), but the fact that the pass doesn't start until mile 54 and you've already climbed about 3,000 feet to get there. The organizer screwed up the profile of the leg by mapping the aid station at the top of Slumgullion rather than the bottom. As a result, I was confused on my fueling, and had to stop mid-climb to add some fuel. The descent off of Slum was nasty, as the pavement was particularly broken with frost heaves. I couldn't really open it up and enjoy the brief descent to the flat between Slum and Spring Creek Pass. Slum took most everything out of me, so when I hit the short and relatively shallow climb over Spring Creek, I took it very easy. The 3rd aid station was at the top of Spring Creek Pass, and I lingered there trying to get enough fuel.
The descent was into a 20-30 mph headwind, which became an unblocked cross wind as the switch backs opened onto the shoulder of the pass with no tree cover. The view near the top of Spring Creek pass was incredible up to the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. From the top of Spring Creek Pass, it was another 45 miles or so to Creede all downhill. However, all but 12 of those miles had very strong headwind or crosswinds. The last twelve were an incredible tailwind where I was zipping along in the low thirties. I had a good ride overall with a ride time of about 6:30 minutes. Not bad for a big day of 106 miles and about 7k of climbing -- and lots of wind.
Day Two was more like a recovery ride: 79 miles downhill to Alamosa. I putzed along at the start of the day trying to pull my buddy downhill. Some of you know I ride a recumbent, and the bike is pretty incompatible with regular bikes. I climb slower than regular bikes (could be due to the 20 pounds I could still lose) but I'm much faster than normal bikes on the flats and downhill. So for much of the Canyon, I was not pedalling and still pulling away from my buddy who was pedaling near his ability to do so.
After South Fork, we again ran into a head wind. I dropped my buddy and started passing everyone, including the pace lines. We took a detour south into the San Luis valley to add miles. After the last aid station, we rode into a significant head wind for a couple of miles with a slight grade. Making the turn to the east, we had a significant cross wind for 10 miles or so before turning northeast for the final run downwind on the flats. It was great to finish with the breeze at your back! I finished the ride (with a mile detour while hunting for the campground) in 3:45 at a 22mph average. What fun!
Day Three was a 75 mile leg from Alamosa to Chama, New Mexico over La Manga and Cumbres passes. The first 30 miles or so was south in the San Luis Valley. Again, we had a headwind, but it was relatively moderate. It was pretty frustrating, as it seemed that I shouldn't need to be expending the energy I was for so little. The light was beautiful (I generally was riding by 6AM), but you couldn't say the same for the scenery: pretty flat with little to look at. After turning west, we hit a beautiful flat valley and rode up toward the pass into a significant headwind (see a theme here? it is Colorado, after all.). At the head of the valley, we took a left bend to cross the river and looked up to a ramp that seemed to go straight up!
La Manga Pass was (if I recall correctly) about a 7 mile climb, with much of it in the 7% range. I just kept spinning, and it was over relatively soon. At the top, we were greeted with, yes, you've got it, another 20-30 MPH headwind. The wind significantly slowed what would've been a very enjoyable descent. Without the wind, I might have been able to treat Cumbres pass as a pop-over, but the wind was fierce enough to stymie any thought of that.
After a medium effort around a big sweeping left turn (not because of the grade, but the wind was really howling by now), I heard a weird sound as I approached the summit of Cumbres Pass. Initially I though the folk at the aid station were pumping out electronic dance music, but then I realized it was the sound of a steam engine climbing the pass. I arrived at the aid station and summit a minute before the Antonito-Chama steam engine did. What a treat! The engine stopped so they could hose down the boiler to cool it off.
The descent from Cumbres pass to Chama was great. If not for the significant headwind, it would have been fantastic. Still, I hit 50 on the descent. The pavement was a smooth as a baby's bottom. Oh, to have that descent with no wind! Still, I made it into Chama in 4:54, for a 15.4 MPH average.
Day Four was a very short 48 mile ride from Chama back into Colorado to Pagosa Springs. The ride tended down, but there were a lot of rollers and a few moderate but short climbs. The scenery was spectacular, with lots of mesas and bluffs, Pinon and Ponderosa Pines, and many meadows as well. It was a fast ride, and I was done in 2:35 at a 19.2 mph average.
Day Five was a rest day. My buddy I did a float trip on the San Juan river. It was a tame ride, but only was $31 for roughly 4 hours of time on the river. Quite a bargain. We spent the rest of the day doing some work and resting for day 6.
Day Six was a great ride from Pagosa Springs to Center (in the San Luis Valley) over Wolf Creek Pass. We rode for about 17 miles to get to the base of the pass where aid station 1 was set up in the turnout for Turquoise Falls, a spectacular waterfall. After fueling up, we rode the 9 miles to the summit. Most of the pass was in the 7 percent range. The total climb from the waterfall was only about 2800 feet. And once at the top, the descent was absolutely fantastic. I was in the mid to upper 50's for several miles, and I could easily have gone much faster. However, I had my first real crash on my bike two weeks ago the weekend before the BTC, and while I've always thought discretion is the better part of valor on the bike, I particularly wanted to keep the bike well within my comfort zone. It's a blast, though, releasing the brakes and passing every person on a regular bike with no effort.
Yesterday, Day Seven, was a relatively easy end to the tour, 97 miles from Center back to Gunnison over North Cochotopa Pass. The morning started relatively warm with damp pavement as it had rained most of the evening. The night previous, Dave and I had been discussing the battery life of Garmin GPS units, and I made the mistake of stating that I usually got 16-18 hours of life out of mine. Of course, Saturday morning when I turned the damn thing on, it immediately gave me a "battery low" warning. So I rode the route without instrumentation.
I made great time to aid station 2, arriving there in 2:10 minutes of elapsed time, including a stop at aid station 1 for fuel and a potty break. On the easy climb to the top of the pass, I couldn't understand why I was so slow and the effort seemed so tough. Finally, a mile before the summit, I dismounted and found my back tire was very soft. The only flat of the tour for me, not bad, as last year I had at least 10 flats due to the piece of crap Michellin road tires I put on my bike just before that tour.
The descent had, you guessed it, a bit of wind. I had a great time passing folk, then caught a couple of pace lines. I asked the strongest one if they wanted to jump on, and pulled for a while by coasting. However, anytime that I put any power to the pedals, I'd drop them. One guy came with me while I ran the speed up into the thirties (judging by my cadence), but he blew up. I coasted for a bit, waiting for them to come back to me. One guy jumped and came like a freight train across the quarter mile to me. I ramped it up to let him jump on, but he passed me, so I put the pedal to the metal and dropped him. I powered into aid station 4 trying to catch my buddy who caught and passed me on the pass while I was changing my tire.
I mosseyed out of aid 4 to catch my buddy. I then pulled him the last 14 miles into Gunnison. 97 miles in about 5:20 of ride time.
It was a great tour. Certainly it was not as tough as last year. I was also in much better condition this year.
I've dropped another 20 pounds this season training for the BTC. My buddy and I trained pretty hard for this event, starting seriously in March when we dropped one day a weekend from our skiing to get a long ride in. Our training built volume very quickly, culminating with over 1,000 miles outdoors in May. By the time of the start of the BTC, I had ridden over 2,400 miles outdoors, and who knows how many hours I spent on the trainer when on travel. I had only 4 outdoor rides prior to March.
The Bicycle Tour of Colorado is a great event. It brings 1,400-2,000 serious cyclists together to ride relatively challenging routes. It's well organized, and the logistics work. I encourage anyone interested in a challenging multiday tour to consider the BTC.
Dave and I used the ShuttleGuy service. They transport your bags, set up a tent they supply for you, equip it with an air mattress, and supply cold drinks, snacks, and a clean towel. They also provide bike tools and a pump, and coffee in the morning. About as civilized as camping can get.
Anyway, it was a great trip. I'm now looking for a new goal for the rest of the season as I've decided to continue my training to try and lose another 15 pounds rather than get shoulder surgery.
and had a blast! I am back at my home office and busy as a bee. Been catching up on emails and cleaning up the tent, bike clothes, and gear. 'Am almost brain dead from sleep deprivation and lack of training. Some neighboring tent folks start unzipping their tents before 4 AM! ... The BTC is nuts but so much fun! There's no better way to see our glorious state of CO! Thank goodness I live at 9300 feet. How do the flatlanders do it??!@!*?!
'Just back from Bicycle Tour of CO
Of course you do, Tricia. I'm relatively sure that my training for the ride is an outlier. I'd guess that most people did the ride with no more than 1,000 miles of training. I, on the other hand, am using the training to try to get back in shape and to be in sufficient shape to overcome the obstacles I still have, namely my weight. While I've lost roughly 60 pounds in the past 18 months, I still weigh more than I should. And all of that weight has to go uphill, meaning that it takes lots of fitness to do it for 6 days. So, my training is atypical.
A multi-day ride like the BTC or Ride the Rockies certainly is a physical and mental challenge. But if I can do it, then I'm pretty sure most any of the folk on this board can do it.
Give it a try. It's a great experience to set a big goal, work hard for it, and achieve it.
BTW, there are some incredible mountain biking multi-day tours out there; it doesn't have to be a road tour.
more to come later today after I get some more work done....
I'll echo Mike's comments above except he started riding around 6 and I usually started around 7:30.
Day 1 Gunnison to Creede
My Powertap battery died just before we started this morning so not data much till Day 3. Also I had inadvertently covered up the barometric vents on my 705 with a sticker so the elevation data for the week is off but the profiles are generally correct.
Slumgullion Pass was hard and fun.....
Looking goofy before the start in Gunny
Looking towards Lake City at the 2nd Aid
Looking Up towards Slumgullion from Lake City
Looking back down the road from a switchback about 1/3rd of the way up Slum
Looking back down at Lake City from the same switchback....we were down there just 2.5 miles ago
Man was I happy to see this sign!!!
Day 2 Creede to Alamosa
Creede Camp....right next to the liquor store....score!!!!
Aid 3 in the San Luis Valley
Day 3 Alamosa to Chama, NM wind was pretty steady out of the SW which is where were headed
Powertap batteries replaced
Sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo's from our camp at Alamosa High School
The road and friends over my shoulder as we descend off La Manga pass
The Cumbres and Toltec steam train in our destination Chama, NM.....what a charming and beautiful town
Day 4 Chama to Pagosa Springs
Fun fast day filled with great views but you can't go fast if you are stopping for pics
So you take them from the bike...over the shoulder shot of my friends
The road ahead
Most of our crew at the 2nd Aid...some slow pokes missing
I spent my day off napping, getting a massage and drinking beer.
A pic of the great hot springs in Pagosa....hot springs, cold river...great for the legs!
The San Juan's from Pagosa
Day 5 Pagosa to Center
Wolf Creek Pass is a great road....plenty of shoulder and lots of lanes with not much traffic.
Looking up the road towards Wolf Creek Pass....who wants to live here....paw raised!
Another gratuitous shot of a friend as I dropped him
Day 6 Center to Gunnison
Another fast ride with brutal headwinds after the first 20 miles. We had some killer pacelines going today
Brian clowning it up at the top of a pass I had never been on before
This pass and road is great piece of deserted Colorado road riding..the canyons at the end just before it joins back up with Hwy 50 near Gunnison are a must ride section of road...bring your best paceline buddies and hammer it.
And now a shot of my hero! This gentleman's name was Chris and he has cerebral palsy. He tried to ride BTC in 2009 and had to pull out on Day 4 due to a very bad saddle sore. He was determined to come back in 2010 and finish the ride. I hung around in Gunnison for 2.5 hours after I finished to make sure he made it and to shake his hand when he did. There must have been close to a hundred people who were riding on the SAG wagons on all or portions of various days rides. Some of them may had physical problems or bike problems but a substantial number just found it too hard so they sagged it. They should be ashamed of themselves...if this man can persevere...so can you!! What an inspiration and what a great guy to get to know!! Chris...congratulations for riding every damn inch of that route.....YOU ARE DA MAN!