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: 

  • 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
  • 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!