Thursday, August 6, 2015

Denver-to-Aspen Updates

Independence Pass, the final BIG climb of Denver-to-Aspen!
The Joe Lookingbill Denver-to-Aspen Classic is scheduled for Saturday, August 29, 2015. Here are some VERY important updates regarding this year's ride:

1) Due to concerns about the safety of the current course, specifically regarding worsening traffic along US-285 (the major east-to-west corridor for the current course), we will NOT be riding the Joe Lookingbill-designed course in 2015. We will instead be using a route that parallels the I-70 corridor, including Lookout Mountain and Loveland Pass to Copper Mountain. From Copper Mountain, the course will venture south along CO-91 over Fremont Pass to Leadville, then along US-24 toward Twin Lakes. The route will then turn west along CO-82 to climb Independence Pass before reaching Aspen and the cycling haven of Woody Creek. We feel this course change is essential to keep the event safe for all participants! Although the new course avoids the highly-trafficked US-285, it does present additional climbing...nearly 2,200 feet, for a grand total of 15,965 feet in 180 miles. But we do feel the new course will be a much safer and a more enjoyable experience for all participants. For a sneak-peak of the new course: 2015 Denver-to-Aspen (prelim. route)

2) This event was originally slated to be run in brevet (i.e., unsupported) format. Several individuals have graciously stepped forward to provide event support for this year's ride. So the 2015 Denver-to-Aspen will be fully supported with RMCC-provided support vehicles. Thanks to everyone who has volunteered!! As with all other Triple Crown events, participants may choose to ride with a personal support vehicle as well.

3) The event will still start at 4:00 am sharp. On August 29, 2015, civil twilight begins at 5:57 am, meaning the first two hours of the ride will be ridden entirely in the dark. Civil twilight ends at 8:04 pm. In traditional Denver-to-Aspen fashion, we do NOT want riders descending Independence Pass in the dark. Participants must finish by the end of civil twilight, 8:04 pm. Riders will therefore have 16 hours, 4 minutes (>11.20 mph) to successfully complete this event and receive Colorado Triple Crown credit. Consider this a "race against the sun!"

Please pay attention to this blog for additional changes. Come out and experience the final Colorado Triple Crown event of 2015!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop Recap...Colorado's Grandest Loop!

Stunning views of Rocky Mountain National Park from the famed Trail Ridge Road,
North America's highest paved highway (Photo by Tim Schaefer)

For the first time since the epic Front Range floods of September 2013, members of the RMCC embarked on a single-day pilgrimage of the Colorado Front Range's most classic cycling loop, the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop. The Grand Loop is an epic cycling loop that climbs into the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park over the spectacular Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in North America. The course returns with a stunning ascent (and even more exhilarating descent) of Berthoud Pass to the south of Winter Park as participants make the long journey back to Golden, CO. Breathtaking, rugged high alpine scenery, dense pine forests, and roadsides draped with wildflowers were the norm for the day as participants climbed over 16,000 feet in 200 miles. This year's event, which had 22 riders starters (tying our largest field ever!), featured sunny skies, (very) warm temperatures, and generally light winds...a great day to ride Colorado's grandest loop!

The Grand Loop is ridden in memory of RMCC member, Tim Kalisch (1967 - 2011). For Tim, the Grand Loop was his epic ride...a ride that he looked forward to completing each season! This year, we were honored to have Tim's daughter, Kimberly, at the finish. Kimberly greeted riders in Golden as they completed the Grand Loop, her father's favorite cycling loop and most epic cycling adventure. Kimberly writes:

Dear 2015 Grand Loop Participants,

Thank you all so much for your kind words. But most of all, thank you for keeping my dad's name alive. It means the world to us, as cycling was his world. 

Cheers to him,

Kim


A herd of Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park at 12,000 feet
(Photo by Tim Shaefer)
2015 Grand Loop Event Summary:

Course:
  • 200 miles, 16,000 feet of climbing
  • 8 categorized climbs:
    • Wyoming Circle Climb (Golden): Cat 4
    • 93 Climb (North of Golden): Cat 4
    • US-36 (Lyons to Estes Park): Cat 1
    • Trail Ridge Road, from Estes Park (elev. 12,183 ft): HC
    • Victory Highway Climb (North of Tabernash): Cat 4
    • Berthoud Pass, from Fraser (elev. 11,307 ft): Cat 1
    • Floyd Hill: Cat 3
    • Soda Creek Climb: Cat 4
  • 2 crossings of the Continental Divide: Milner Pass (elev. 10,758 ft, RMNP) and Berthoud Pass (elev. 11,307 ft) 
  • The courses traverses Rocky Mountain National Park via the spectacular Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in North America
Participants: 
  • 23 pre-registered riders
  • 22 ride starters, 1 early withdrawal. Of the riders who started, 21 were men, 1 (brave-hearted) woman.
  • 21 official finishers (95% finishing rate), successfully completing this epic course in under 18 hours (>11.1 m.p.h.). 
  • Mark Lowe recorded the fastest finishing time of the day, completing the Grand Loop in 11 hrs, 31 min (17.4 mph). Billy Edwards holds the course record, 11 hrs, 4 min (2013). 
  • Congratulations to Diane Benoit of Morrison, our lone female finisher. Diane finished this year's Grand Loop with a time of 15 hrs, 37 min (12.8 mph).
Views of RMNP from the valley before the start of the climb up Trail Ridge Road
(Photo by Tim Schaefer)

Special thanks to this year's volunteers. We simply cannot run these events in this current timed format without their assistance! Thanks again to each of you for your valuable time and efforts!
  • Charlie Henderson and Corinne Warren: Charlie and Corinne drove our lone support vehicle, providing front-end support in Lyons, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park. 
  • Beth Long and Brent Myers. Beth and Brent ran a fantastic aid stations in Granby and on top of Berthoud Pass, respectively.
  • Jim Kraychy. Jim helped record finishing times in Golden and was our official club liason with guest of honor, Kimberly Kalisch.
Trail Ridge Road climbs into the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park
(Photo by Tim Schaefer)

Brief Results:



Name Age Hometown Total Time
Lowe, Mark 41 Arvada, CO 11:31
Nelsen, Eric 42 Evergreen, CO 12:04
Franz, Ryan 37 Boulder, CO 12:29
Rudolph, Steve 55 Westminster, CO 12:29
Horwood, Josh 35 Loveland, CO 12:33
Schaefer, Tim 49 Denver, CO 13:14
Rosenthal, Harris 53 Denver, CO 13:37
Strayer, Stephen 37 Noblesville, IN 14:07
Baker, Chris 44 Firestone, CO 14:07
Schroer, Steve 46 Littleton, CO 14:07
Smith, Vernon 57 Colorado Springs, CO 14:34
Jensen, Keith 41 Windsor, CO 14:34
Henderson, Michael 49 Dolores, CO 14:46
Stokes, Colin 49 Mission Viejo, CA 14:46
Hulett, Jeffrey 55 Golden, CO 14:47
Olson, Kale 28 Lochbuie, CO 14:47
Flanigan, John 57 Denver, CO 14:55
Nelson, David 60 Greenwood Village, CO 15:31
Benoit, Diane 57 Morrison, CO 15:37
Barnes, Graham 44 Boulder, CO 16:50
Turek, Michael 48 Longmont, CO 16:59
Zitz, Walter 29 Englewood, CO DNF*
*Mechanical problems






By completing the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop, the following riders have successfully completed the 2015 Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations to each of you!

  1. Chris Baker (1st Triple Crown)
  2. Graham Barnes (1st Triple Crown)
  3. Josh Horwood (2nd Triple Crown)
  4. Harris Rosenthal (1st Triple Crown)
  5. Tim Schaefer (1st Triple Crown)
  6. Steve Schroer (3rd Triple Crown)
  7. Vernon Smith (1st Triple Crown)
  8. Colin Stokes (1st Triple Crown)


Guest of honor, Kimberly Kalisch and significant other, greet Grand Loop finishers at Golden High School
Mark Lowe at the conclusion of the Grand Loop. This was Mark's sixth Grand Loop
Eric Nelsen had a strong day on the bike to complete his fourth Grand Loop! Congratulations, Eric!
Looking fresh at the finish, Colorado Triple Crown veterans, Steve Rudolph and Ryan Franz, are ready for a second lap! 
With his nutrition dialed in, Josh Horwood completes his first Colorado Triple Crown series since 2012.
Congratulations, Josh! 
Tim Schaefer survives the Grand Loop to complete his first Colorado Triple Crown series.
Congratulations, Tim!

In spite of a frustrating day of flats, Walter Zitz keeps a bright attitude and smile on his face.
(I've been there myself, Walter. On to the next one...)
Harris Rosenthal is exhausted at the finish, but is glad to have completed his first Colorado Triple Crown series!
Great series, Harris! 
Stephen Strayer is relieved to have survived his first Grand Loop after spending a week at sea level
in his home state of Indiana. Great ride, Stephen!

Steve Schroer completes the 2015 Grand Loop and his third Colorado Triple Crown series! Great ride, Steve!
Chris Baker takes a breather in the grass at Golden High School after completing his first Grand Loop!
Excellent ride, Chris!
Vernon Smith felt like he struggled a bit on the bike, but still had a stellar Grand Loop!
Congratulations on completing your first Triple Crown series, Vernon!
Colin Stokes and Michael Henderson at the finish. Colin, from Mission Viejo, CA, becomes the fifth rider from out-of-state to complete the Colorado Triple Crown series! Great ride to the both of you!
Keith Jensen used some creative navigating to find his way back to Golden.
(I am relieved that you made it back safely!)
Jeffrey Hulett and Kale Olson survive a frustrating day of flats to successfully complete the Grand Loop!
Great ride to the both of you!
John Flanigan successfully completes his first Grand Loop and Colorado Triple Crown event! Great ride, John!
David Nelson is exhausted, but relieved to have survived his first Grand Loop! Great ride, David!
Colorado Triple Crown veteran, Diane Benoit, survives another Grand Loop and remains in good spirits
at the end of the ride. Congratulations, Diane!
Graham Barnes completes his first Grand Loop and Colorado Triple Crown series on a modified mountain bike! Congratulations, Graham! 
Mike Turek sticks to the moto that it's better to be the "Lanterne Rouge" than the "Lanterne DNF!" Great ride, Mike!
Brent Myers and Beth Long provided support for this year's Grand Loop participants in Granby and on top of Berthoud Pass. Thanks again for your help!!!
Jim Kraychy and Charlie Henderson at the conclusion of the Grand Loop in Golden
More elk at 12,000 feet in RMNP! (Photo by Tim Schaefer)

The spectacular Trail Ridge Road (Photo by Tim Schaefer)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Inaugural Colorado Classic Double Century Recap: Somewhere Between Epic.....And Brutal!

RMCCers charge toward the stunning Marcelina Mountain on Kebler Pass Road (Photo by Walter Zitz)
July 11, 2015 marked the inaugural Colorado Classic Double Century, the second of two new Colorado Triple Crown events for 2015. Whereas the Colorado Death Ride is perhaps the most spectacular event on the RMCC calendar, the Colorado Classic Double Century is perhaps the most EPIC single-day event ever attempted by the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club: 241 miles and over 17,000 feet of climbing. Starting and ending in Buena Vista, the course climbs four of Colorado's most spectacular mountain passes: Independence Pass, McClure Pass, Kebler Pass, and Cottonwood Pass. The Colorado Classic Double century embodies every quintessential aspect of "classic" road riding in Colorado!  Spectacular high-alpine climbs, jaw-dropping mountain vistas. mountainsides blanketed in wildflowers, and many miles of back country dirt and gravel roads were the norm for the day. In spite of the already epic nature of this course, Mother Nature decided that the day was not epic enough, launching a barrage of thundershowers on participants as they made the already difficult, slow-moving climbs over Kebler Pass and Cottonwood Pass. Kebler Pass, in particular, became a muddy mess. And for many participants, an already EPIC day on the bike rapidly became a BRUTAL day as they forged their way along the slow-moving wet and sloppy dirt roads. Participants originally had 20 hours to complete this epic new course, but an on-the-fly decision to increase the time limit to 21 hours allowed several additional riders to successfully finish.  Congratulations to all of the participants who successfully completed this epic course and kudos to those riders who came up a bit short!

Dawn breaks on the stunning independence Pass as riders prepare to make the chilly 4,000 foot plunge into Aspen, CO

2015 Colorado Classic Double Century Event Summary: 

Course:
  • 241 miles, 17,000+ feet of climbing
  • 4 categorized climbs:
    • Independence Pass: (elev. 12,096 feet): HC (from Twin Lakes)
    • McClure Pass (elev. 8,763 feet): Category 2
    • Kebler Pass (elev. 10,007 feet): HC 
    • Cottonwood Pass (elev. 12,126 feet): HC (from Taylor Reservoir)
  • 2 crossings of the Continental Divide: Independence Pass and Cottonwood Pass
  • 43 miles of dirt and gravel roads, including the stunning Kebler Pass Road and the western side of Cottonwood Pass, perhaps the state's most spectacular high alpine pass.
Aspen groves line the upper unpaved portions of Kebler Pass Road
Participants: 
  • 22 pre-registered riders
  • 22 ride starters. Of the riders who started, 21 were men, 1 (brave-hearted) woman
  • 13 official finishers (59% finishing rate), successfully completing this epic course in under 21 hours (>11.5 m.p.h.). 5 unofficial finishers (completed the course in greater than 21 hours), 4 DNFs
  • A group containing Eric Nelsen, Mark Lowe, Steve Rudolph, and Walter Zitz completed the course in a total elapsed time of 14:53 (avg. speed 16.2 m.p.h.). Congratulations to each of you!
Eric Nelsen and Stephen Strayer lead the charge southbound on CO-133 toward the short (but steep) McClure Pass
Special thanks to this year's volunteers. We simply cannot run these events in this current timed format without their assistance! Thanks again to each of you for your time and efforts!
  • Melissa Rice. Visiting her son, Stephen Strayer, for the weekend, Melissa drove our lone support vehicle, sacrificing an entire day to support our event!
  • Nick Faes. Nick ran a fantastic aid station out of the driveway of his home in Crested Butte, providing shelter and mechanical support for riders who were soaked by the unexpected bone-chilling thunderstorms on Kebler Pass
  • Mark Michel. Long-time club member, Mark Michel, ran a great aid station in Carbondale, servicing riders who had just made the long descent from the top on Independence Pass to Carbondale.
The aid station at the Faes' residence in Crested Butte was a welcome sight to participants
who had just made the cold, wet, and sloppy descent down Kebler Pass. (Photo by Nick Faes)

Brief Results:

Name Age Hometown Total Time
Nelsen, Eric 42 Evergreen, CO 14:53
Lowe, Mark 41 Arvada, CO 14:53
Rudolph, Steve 55 Westminster, CO 14:53
Zitz, Walter 29 Englewood, CO 14:53
Franz, Ryan 37 Boulder, CO 15:01
Strayer, Stephen 37 Noblesville, IN 15:07
Miller, Tom 45 Denver, CO 16:12
Baker, Chris 44 Firestone, CO 17:48
Stokes, Colin 49 Mission Viejo, CA 18:05
Kaminski, Jason 45 Longmont, CO 18:24
Lapkass, Andy 57 Breckenridge, CO 18:37
Sendor, Jon 58 Denver, CO 20:15
Turek, Michael 48 Longmont, CO 20:20
Warren, Corinne* 47 Monument, CO 21:20
LeBlanc, Todd* 44 Lakewood, CO 22:00
Benton, Roy* 65 Angwin, CA 23:03
Henderson, Michael* ** 49 Dolores, CO DNF
Nelson, David* 60 Greenwood Village, CO DNF
Fullagar, David 46 Nederland, CO DNF 
Grimm, Paul 46 Fredonia, AZ DNF
Rainwater, James 46 Nederland, CO DNF
Turner, Jason 40 Monument, CO DNF

*Unofficial finisher
**Completed all major climbs, but had to abandon during the descent down Cottonwood Pass (12 miles from the finish) due to hypothermia and a lighting system malfunction.


By successfully completing the Colorado Classic Double Century, the following riders have successfully completed the 2015 Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations on completing Colorado's most challenging road cycling series!
  • Jason Kaminski
  • Mark Lowe
  • Tom Miller
  • Eric Nelsen
  • Steve Rudolph
  • Stephen Strayer*
  • Jon Sendor
  • Walter Zitz
*Stephen is our first rider from Indiana (and only our fourth ever rider from out-of-state) to complete the series. 

Eric Nelsen, Stephen Strayer, Walter Zitz, Steve Rudolph, and Ryan Franz take a breather
on the stunning Kebler Pass Road with Beckwith Mountain in the background.


Walter Zitz, Eric Nelsen, Mark Lowe, and Steve Rudolph at the conclusion of the ride in Buena Vista
Ryan Franz was back in Triple Crown action for the Colorado Classic Double Century
Stephen Strayer completed the Colorado Classic Double Century to become our first rider from Indiana to complete the Colorado Triple Crown series. Congratulations, Stephen! 
Tom Miller at the conclusion of this epic adventure to complete his fifth Colorado Triple Crown series. Congratulations, Tom! Kudos to you!
Chris Baker at the finish in Buena Vista. Well done, Chris!
Colin Stokes and Michael Henderson at the conclusion of an epic day!  Great ride to both of you!
Jason Kaminski is ecstatic to have completed this epic ride and his second Colorado Triple Crown series. Congratulations on a great ride and great series, Jason!
Not one to shy away from epic adventures, Andy Lapkass of Breckinridge completed this challenging course on a single speed road bike! Kudos to you, Andy! (I hope we see you back again next season!) 
Jon Sendor survives an epic day on the bike! Fantastic ride, Jon! 
In preparation for Paris-Brest-Paris, Michael Turek completes the Colorado Classic Double Century, helping fellow rider, Corinne Warren, along the way.
Surrounded by panoramic vistas, Cottonwood Pass Road is one of the state's most spectacular high alpine passes.
RMCCers charge toward Mt. Sopris to the south of Carbondale along CO-133
Eric Nelsen "searches for wildflowers" behind the sign off in the distance to the east of Taylor Reservoir. Sorry, Eric...not many wildflowers during this section of the ride! 
In commanding form, Walter Zitz charges up Cottonwood Pass Road.
Endless scenery from Cottonwood Pass!

Next up...Colorado's grandest loop....the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop!