Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Foothills Climbfest Recap

Scenic views of downtown Denver from Deer Creek Canyon

The 2013 Foothills Climbfest, contested on May 25, 2013, was one for the records as a record number of participants--32 glutton-for-punishment RMCCers--decided to tackle this year's Climbfest! Contested on Memorial Day weekend, the Climbfest is one of the longest-standing RMCC Challenge Series events. The course used for the Climbfest, which climbs well over 8,000 vertical feet in just 80 miles, tackles some of the most challenging paved roads in the foothills to the southwest of Denver, including High Grade Road (a 3,000 foot Front Range classic!), Shadow Mountain/Brook Forest, Parmalee Gulch Road, High Drive (it's not called high drive for nothing!), and Brook Forest/Shadow Mountain (in reverse...a "beast" of a climb at the end of a long day, especially in the heat!). Although not officially a race, participants of the Foothills Climbfest are encouraged to challenge themselves and put forth their best efforts. Many riders use this event as a final tune-up for the Joe Lookingbill Denver-to-Aspen Classic on June 15th, the first event of the Colorado Triple Crown.

For this year's event, participants were greeted with beautiful, partly cloudy skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, which reached the mid-80s by the middle of the afternoon. Winds were also generally on the light side, but many riders concurred that there were an abundance headwinds this year...

Congratulations to Diane Benoit of Morrison, CO for matching Wendy Field's 2009 woman's course record of 5:31! And congratulations to all of the year's participants for their hard work!! Results will be posted on the RMCC web page soon.

Special thanks to Charlie Henderson and Rick Melick for providing event support for this year's ride. Rick filled in on last minute's notice to help out, so I am grateful for his help!!! (Yes, Rick...you can have my first-born as promised...)

RMCC President, Charlie Henderson, along with Tom Groves, Steve Rudolph, and Tom Miller
at the conclusion of this year's event. 

Here are the highlights from this year's event:

  • 30 preregistered riders, 6 non-preregistered riders, and many other club riders who decided to attempt parts of this very challenging course.
  • 32 participants (by far our largest group ever!)
  • 4 no-shows (Okay...that's a little better than BF5)
  • 3 female participants (A little extra estrogen on the road during these events is a good thing!)
  • Once again, congratulations to Diane Benoit who tied Wendy Fields women's 2009 course record of 5:31 (14:49 m.p.h.)!
  • Mark Lowe of Arvada, CO was first men's finisher in 4:43 (16.95 m.p.h.), a bit (a lot!) off of his course record of 4:23 (18.48 m.p.h) he set in 2011.
  • Sy Katz, at 73 years young, becomes our oldest finisher ever for this event with a very impressive finishing time of 5:58. Not to be outdone, Tom Groves, at the ripe young age of 65, posted the first sub-five hour time for any finisher older the age of 60 with an impressive finishing time of 4:55. Congratulations to both of you! 
  • Lots of flat tires!
  • One minor crash (that I'm aware of)...
  • 25 gallons of water consumed (Yes...it was on the toasty side!)

Eric Nelsen at the conclusion of this year's Climbfest. Eric is continuing to dial in the position on his new Cannondale in preparation for the upcoming Colorado Triple Crown.
Lloyd Jones, Mark Stanton, and Josh Horwood are relieved to be finished!


Mike Sanders and Diane Benoit at the conclusion of this year's ride. Mike and Diane worked together toward the end of this year's ride to help Diane match the women's course record set by Wendy Fields in 2009. 

Jacob Torrey and RMCC veteran Harris Rosenthal at the conlusion of this year's event are excited about the prospect of grabbing a burger at the Rox Bar and Grill after a hard day on the bike!

Sy Katz and Eric Oshlo at the conclusion of this year's ride. Congratulations to both of you!

Marty Medina bettered last year's time finishing time by 45 minutes. Congratulations, Marty!

Martha Pomares, trying to escape the camera, was only the second female finisher for this year's event. Congratulations on completing another Climbfest, Martha!

RMCC newcomer, Paul Braun, at the conclusion of this year's Climbfest...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Foothills Climbfest

Scenic views of High Grade Road, twisting its way back toward Deer Creek Canyon

The RMCC Foothills Climbfest, which will be contested Saturday, April 8, 2017, is a mainstay on the RMCC calendar. It is the longest standing RMCC Challenge Series event. And for many riders, it is one of the final "tune-ups" for the Colorado Triple Crown. Starting in Ken Caryl, the Climbfest is a true test of cycling perseverance, climbing over 8,000 feet in 80 miles. The route features five climbs in the foothills to the southwest of Denver:
  • Deer Creek Canyon/High Grade Road (a true foothills classic!)
  • Shadow Mountain/Brook Forest
  • Parmalee Gulch Road
  • High Drive Road
  • Brook Forest/Shadow Mountain (in reverse) 
Like other RMCC Challenge Series events, the Climbfest is not officially a race...but it's as close to a race as any event on the RMCC calendar! Riders are encouraged to push themselves to the maximum limit of their cycling abilities. And as always, friendly competition is encouraged!

The Climbfest also happens to be the RMCC club ride. RMCC members and non-members are more than welcome to ride the course along with Climbfest participants. However, only participants in the Climbfest will be allowed to use the RMCC support vehicles to obtain extra water along the course.

Red rocks formations at South Valley Park

A few notes about the Climbfest:
  • Date: Saturday, April 8, 2017
  • Time: Check in 7:00 am - 7:50 am. You will not be able to check in after 7:50 am. Ride starts promptly at 8:00 am.
  • Start/End location: Ken Caryl RTD Park-n-Ride in Littleton, CO
  • Registration: Pre-registration is encouraged! To register, click here: 2017 Foothills Climbfest. This allows us to figure out how much water we need to bring! However, RMCC membership is REQUIRED to participate in this event. If you are not a member and would like to ride, please bring your RMCC membership application and $25 to the ride start. Here's a link to the on-line RMCC membership.
  • Course:  Here is a link to the course map/cue sheet, which is also available on the RMCC webpage: Foothills Climbfest. Please familiarize yourself the course before the day of the event! This is an "open-road" event. The roads are open to traffic, there are no course markings or marshals...just you and your fellow competitors! As such, participants need to ride defensively with safety as their utmost priority!! Riders must follow the rules of the road!!
  • Results: Please keep in mind that this is a "timed" event. Participants have 7 hours to complete the entire course to receive an official finishing time. Results, including rider splits at checkpoints, will be posted in finishing order on the RMCC webpage, including age and gender. Rider's splits will be recorded at the following checkpoints along the course: 1) Top of Shadow Mountain Drive (Closing time: 10:20), 2) Base of High Drive Road (Closing time: 11:50), 3) Top of Shadow Mountain Drive (Closing time: 13:45), 4) Finish: Ken Caryl RTD Park-n-Ride (Closing time: 15:00). 
  • Support vehicles: RMCC will provide two support vehicles for this event. The support vehicles will be stocked with water and ice. Riders may keep additional supplies that they will need to successfully complete the event in the support vehicles.
  • Course records, Men: Mark Lowe, 2011 (4:23, 18:48 mph), Women: Mindy Gehrs, 2014 (5:06, 15.90 mph)
Views of Denver in the distance from Deer Creek Canyon

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Boulder Fearsome Five Recap

Spectacular vistas from near the top of Sunshine Canyon. Clouds and chilly temperatures
were the norm for the 2013 Boulder Fearsome Five.

The 2013 Boulder Fearsome Five is in the books! And what an EPIC day on the bike it was!! The Boulder Fearsome Five, the first event of the 2013 RMCC Challenge Series, is (without a doubt!) the nation's most difficult century ride! "Los Cinco Diablos" features Boulder County's most devilishly steep climbs, including James Canyon (a.k.a. the SuperJames), Sunshine Canyon-Fourmile Canyon loop, Sugarloaf Road, the uber-steep Magnolia Road, and Flagstaff Road...over 15,000+ feet of climbing in 100 miles (>150+ feet of climbing/mile). In fact, at the completion of the ride, most finisher's Garmin computers registered over 16,000 feet of climbing!!

RMCC newcomer (and climbing extraordinaire!), Chris Case, effortlessly climbs the steepest dirt sections of Sunshine Canyon. Chris smoked this extremely challenging course, posting the only sub-eight hour finishing time for the day!

This year's event also featured a few additional "twists" to further add to the challenge. First, riders had to complete the five major climbs of the course in consecutive order from north-to-south to receive credit for completing the ride. Last year's route, which completed the five major climbs from south-to-north, (starting with Flagstaff Mountain), was "top heavy" in climbing, featuring over 10,000 feet of climbing in the first 50 miles. The second half of last year's route was much more manageable for most riders (who didn't get caught in the freak snowstorm on top of James Canyon), climbing "only" 5,000 feet in 50 miles. This year's route definitely balanced the climbing out a bit more, climbing slightly over 8,000 feet in the first 50 miles and 7,000 feet in the second half of the ride. However, this meant that riders had to tackle the formidable Magnolia Road (Boulder County's steepest sustained paved road, avg. grade 9.1%) and Flagstaff Road, with it's uber-steep final mile, at the very end of the ride. This clearly added to the misery of many riders who were already experiencing problems with cramping legs! Also adding to the challenge was the addition of Bow Mountain Road, a 1.5 mile gravel climb with grades as steep as 16% that snakes its way into the Linden neighborhood to the northwest of Boulder!

This RMCC Challenge Series event has a unique format as results are posted based on number of climbs completed...not finishing time. However, riders can compete to earn the distinction of posting the fastest time on the course. This year's honors belong to RMCC newcomer, Chris Case, who completed this incredibly challenging course in 7 hours, 47 minutes. RMCC club veteran and endurance specialist, Ryan Franz, who was coming off a successful winter of rando ski racing, wasn't far behind, finishing in 8 hours, 7 minutes! Congratulations to both of you for a stellar ride!!

As with last year's event, the Front Range spring weather definitely added to the challenge of this year's ride! Sunny skies in the morning gave way to low-level clouds, chilly temperatures, and even some light snow showers at the highest elevations of Sugarloaf Road in the afternoon. The mild 60 degree temperatures that had been forecast the previous day never materialized as an inversion layer kept temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid-40s for most of the day. However, the recent April snowstorms made the gravel sections on Sunshine Canyon and Fourmile Canyon extremely easy to navigate as the roads were very well-packed! In fact, most riders found the sandy sections of Linden Road and Magnolia Road much more difficult to navigate than even the gravel roads themselves.

Congratulations to all of the riders for attempting this incredibly challenging course! And special kudos to the 15 riders who conquered "Los Cinco Diablos!" 

Results (based on number of climbs completed) will be posted on the RMCC webpage in the next few days. Please note that we do our best to report results as accurately as possible. However, a number of riders did not accurately complete (or even sign) their cue cards...

Special thanks to Ansel Franz, Grace Franz, Josh Horwood, and Mark Lowe for providing event support for this year's ride!! (Ansel does perhaps the best elephant imitation that I've ever seen a one-year-old do before BTW!) 


Like "blazing saddles," RMCCers ride west though Jamestown toward the SuperJames, the first major climb of the day.
Riders were  greeted with temperatures in the upper 30s at the top of the climb,
making for an extremely blustery descent!

Event Stats:
  1. 100 miles, including 5 major climbs, 3 smaller climbs, and 9 miles of steep dirt roads...for a grand total of approximately 15,500 feet of climbing!
  2. 35 ride starters (a new record for this event!)
  3. 3 women (Yes...woman can participate in this event too! Alas, no female finishers for 2013...)
  4. 7 no-shows (Boo on you!) 
  5. 15 riders completed the entire course (43% completion rate)
  6. Fastest finishing time: Chris Case, 7 hours, 47 minutes
  7. Average time to complete the entire course: 9 hours, 32 minutes
  8. 2 minor crashes that I'm aware of...I hope you guys are healing well!!
  9. Gallons of water consumed: 20
  10. Gatorades consumed: 32
  11. Cokes consumed: 24
  12. Memories to last a lifetime: countless!!

Okay...someone in Gold Hill has a sense of humor!

What the riders were saying about this year's event:
"This year's route was much harder than last year's route! - Steve Rudolph (Good...that was the intention!)

"That was even harder than Denver-to-Aspen!! - Eric Nelsen, first time BF5 participant (If this doesn't get you ready for the Colorado Triple Crown, nothing will!!)

"-uck Koppenburg! This ride was much better than that race!!" - Unknown rider

"Great course! Extremely beautiful!" - Jill Hueckman

"Thanks for putting on a great ride. I had a blast, flat tire withstanding!" - Nick Legan

"This year with Magnolia and Flagstaff at the end, that was downright brutal! I didn't realize my bike could go that slow!" - Chuck Matthys, BF5 veteran

"Have you thought about including Lickskillet Road or Deer Trail Road in the course?? - Josh Horwood (Josh...never give a psychopath ideas...you may live to regret those thoughts! :)

"You are evil!" - Chris Case, referring to the placement of Magnolia Rd. and Flagstaff Rd. at the end of the ride. (I take that as a complement BTW!) 


RMCC veteran, Ryan Franz, pulls into the check point near the top of Sunshine Canyon in hot pursuit of Chris Case...

Brendan Billingsley arrives at the Sunshine Canyon checkpoint. 

Looking daper in his Colorado Triple Crown kit, Craig Howell arrives at the top of Sunshine Canyon.

Riders regroup after a quick break near the top of Sunshine Canyon.

There were not a lot of smiling faces with this group of riders! These riders were exhausted
after completing over 8,000 feet of climbing in less than 50 miles!


RMCC veteran Steve Rudolph consoles Kelly Shannon at the end of the ride. Kelly was disappointed that he "called it a day" after completing the Sugarloaf climb. Chilly temperatures on top of Sugarloaf got the best of him! Still...80 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing...not a bad day's work!