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,


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

  • 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
  • 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)