|RMCCers tackle a new challenge: the Cycle to Saturn Double Century, |
a reincarnation (of sorts) of the Saturn Cycling Classic (2000 - 2002),
one of the most brutal road races ever contested in the U.S.
– Neil Armstrong
Many of America’s most decorated bicycle racers--names including the likes of Jonathan Vaughters, Scott Moninger, and Chris Horner--started the third (and final) Saturn Cycling Classic (2001 – 2002). The Saturn Cycling Classic was one of the most brutal road races every contested on U.S. soil…140 miles from Boulder, CO to the mountain resort town of Breckenridge, CO. The route included seven mountain passes, climbing over 14,000 feet, and boasting an average altitude of over 9.000 feet! The route included some of the nastiest roads every ridden by a professional peloton in the U.S.! Virginia Canyon Road (i.e., Oh My God Road) was an intimidating combination of rough pavement, gravel, dirt…and no guardrails! The climb over the Hors Categorie, Guanella Pass, was an even more daunting task. The road over Guanella Pass consisted of extremely rough pavement, which deteriorated rapidly near the summit of climb (11,671 feet) into a nasty mixture of dirt, gravel, rocks, and washboard. Lead riders would often switch to mountain bikes at the summit of the pass to conserve energy and minimize the risk of a mechanical mishap. At the end of the race, only 20 of the 150 racers who started would even finish! For many reasons, this was the last time this race was ever contested. And the race vanished into American cycling folklore…R.I.P…
|Guanella Pass, flanked by Mt. Bierstadt to the east, is the first high alpine climb |
of the "Inner Ring of Saturn."
– Sally Ride
|Views from the spectacular Loveland Pass (on a sunnier day)!|
|Views for Virginia Canyon back toward Central City|
- 201.7 miles, 20,000+ feet of climbing!
- An average altitude of over 9,000 feet. The average altitude of “Inner Ring of Saturn” (i.e., Georgetown-to-Georgetown), including Guanella Pass, Kenosha Pass, Red Hill Pass, Hoosier Pass, and Loveland Pass is just below 10,000 feet!
- 9 categorized climbs:
- Golden Gate Canyon. Consisting of three shorter climbs, Golden Gate Canyon is a Hors Category climb that ascends steeply into the foothills to the west of Golden, climbing 4,100 feet in 18 miles.
- Black Hawk to Virginia Canyon Summit. The five-mile grind out of the gambling communities of Black Hawk and Central city is a Category 2 climb, climbing nearly 1,420 feet in five miles, punishing participants with sustained grades of 10-12%, some of the steepest climbing of the day.
- Guanella Pass. Climbing steeply out of the Victorian mining town of Georgetown, Guanella Pass Road is a daunting Hors Category Climb, gaining 3,200 feet in 11 miles. Flanked to the east by Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans, two of Colorado's most accessible 14,000 foot peaks, Guanella Pass crests well above timberline.
- Kenosha Pass: Kenosha Pass is a Category 2 climb that ascends gradually along US-285 from Grant, gaining 1,300 feet in seven miles. Many riders find this climb to be one of the most challenging of the day, especially since the traffic along US-285 can be a bit unnerving!
- Red Hill Pass: A Category 4 climb, Red Hill Pass doesn't appear to be more than a "bump" on the elevation profile, but this little "bump" can feel debilitating to riders who already have 12,000 feet of climbing in their fatigued legs for the day.
- Hoosier Pass: Climbing gently out of Alma, Hoosier Pass is a Category 2 climb that gains 1,200 feet in six miles before making the twisty plunge into Breckenridge, the finishing point of the original Saturn Cycling Classic.
- Swan Mountain Road: This short climb skirts the eastern edge of Lake Dillon, connecting Breckenridge to Loveland Pass Road and gaining less than 500 feet along the way.
- Loveland Pass. One of Colorado's most spectacular mountain passes, Loveland Pass Road is a Category 1 climb that gains 2,500 feet in 8.6 miles from the Keystone Resort, offering stunning views of high alpine peaks along the Continental Divide.
- Floyd Hill: A Category 3 climb, Floyd Hill parallels I-70 to the east of Idaho Springs, punishing riders with 8% grades and 900 feet of additional climbing in 1.9 miles.
- 2 long, bumpy descents on packed dirt and gravel roads:
- Virginia Canyon Road (Oh My God Road) to Idaho Springs, 7 miles
- Geneva Road: Guanella Pass Summit to Grant, 10 miles (nearly 6 miles longer than expected as, unbeknownst to RMCCers, CDOT had started the final stages of paving Guanella Pass from Grant to the summit of the pass). Fortunately, none of this year's participants experienced any major delays. Guanella Pass will likely be completely paved from Georgetown to Grant by sometime early in 2015.
- Stunning high alpine mountain scenery, easily rivaling the Colorado Death Ride and Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop as the state's most spectacular double century course.
|Looking up Oh My God Road, the first of two difficult rough dirt and gravel sections|
on the Cycle to Saturn course.
- 22 preregistered riders
- 18 ride starters, 3 withdrawals, 1 no show. Of the riders who started on "race day," 16 were men, 2 were women.
- 11 official finishers (61% finishing rate), completing the course within the 19.5 hour time limit, 7 DNFs.
- Congratulations to Eric Nelsen and Mark Lowe, who posted the fastest time for the day of 13:55 (14.49 mph).
- Congratulations to Diane Benoit, our speediest female competitor, who completed the course in 17:32 (11.50 mph).
Special thanks to this year's event volunteers:
- RMCC club president, Charlie Henderson, who sacrificed another long day to provide event support.
- Craig Howell, who sacrificed over 21 consecutive hours to provide support for this year's event!
- Mike Turek, who helped support riders in Breckenridge.
Brief Results (Complete results with splits will be posted on the new RMCC website later this year:
|Name||Age||Total Time||Avg. Speed (mph)|
Congratulations to all of this year's finishers!
Long-live the Saturn Cycling Classic!
|Happy to have survived the mission to Cycle to Saturn, |
Steve Rudolph is all smiles at the conclusion of the ride.
|Ryan Franz at the conclusion of the event. Ryan unfortunately rode through the dirt sections of Guanella Pass Road shortly after a water truck had passed by, turning the road (as well as Ryan and his bike) into muddy mess!|
|Steven Philips, refueling at the control point in Breckenridge, had another excellent day on the bike. Steven was able to complete the ride and still muster enough energy to meet his wife for an anniversary dinner! Impressive!|
|A natural climber, Triple Crown veteran, Tom Miller,|
was wondering why the Cycle to Saturn course
didn't have even more high alpine climbs!
(Remember: I've got the keys to this car!" :)
|Diane Benoit completes her third Triple Crown by completing Cycle to Saturn. Congratulations, Diane!|
|Jason Turner and Steve Shroer in Breckenridge, a bit chilled |
after the cool, wet descent down Hoosier Pass...
and preparing for the even chillier ride over Loveland Pass!
|RMCC president, Charlie Henderson, and Graham Barnes at the Breckenridge checkpoint.|
With the conclusion of the Cycle to Saturn Double Century, the following riders have successfully completed the 2014 Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations to all of you!
- Diane Benoit, 3rd Triple Crown
- Ryan Franz, 2nd Triple Crown
- Ray Rupel, 2nd Triple Crown
- Steve Schroer, 2nd Triple Crown
- Corinne Warren, 1st Triple Crown
The conclusion of the inaugural Cycle to Saturn Double Century marks the conclusion of the 2014 Colorado Triple Crown. This season—our sixth Triple Crown—has indeed been one of the most challenging weather-wise! With wind and nasty winter weather thwarting many riders attempt to complete Denver-to-Aspen and with the unfortunate cancellation of the Grand Loop, this year’s repertoire of events left riders who had aspirations of completing this year’s Triple Crown with few options, except to complete some of the most difficult double centuries in the nation, including the Colorado Death Ride, the Cripple Creek Crippler, and Cycle to Saturn Double Century. So “hats off” to all of this year’s Colorado Triple Crown finishers for persevering through a difficult season!
We’ll see you in 2015!