Sunday, September 6, 2015

2015 Denver-to-Aspen Recap


Spectacular views from Independence Pass, one of Colorado's best high alpine climbs!
The Joe Lookingbill Denver-to-Aspen Classic has been the "signature ride" of the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club (RMCC) since the 1990s. For many years during the 1990s, Denver-to-Aspen was run as a public event, attracting as many as 190+ riders each year, including the likes of former Giro d'Italia competitor, Michael Carter! The Joe Lookingbill-designed course, which traverses US-285 from Conifer to Johnson Village, is extremely "top-heavy" and "end-heavy" in climbing, ascending 13,500 feet in 180 total miles. In the middle of US-285 sits the cycling gem of South Park, a little piece of Kansas in the Colorado Rockies! With its rolling terrain and potential for unpredictable headwinds, the South Park Valley has posed a significant challenge to Denver-to-Aspen participants since the event's inception. In recent years, however, an increase in traffic along the US-285 corridor, fueled by a booming population in Colorado, has added to the challenge of this already difficult course. Traffic along the US-285 has increased the potential risk of accidents and injuries to Denver-to-Aspen participants. This season, the RMCC Board of Directors approved a re-design of the RMCC signature ride in the interest of keeping the event safe for participants.

For 2015, Denver-to-Aspen participants made the single-day pilgrimage to Aspen along a new course which presented many of the same challenges of the original Joe Lookingbill course, including stunning mountain scenery and LOTS of climbing! Starting with the difficult climb up Lookout Mountain to the west of Golden, the new route the traverses the lightly traveled frontage roads along the I-70 corridor, rather than the highly trafficked US-285. The new course features 16,000+ feet of climbing in 181 miles, including three challenging high-altitude climbs: Loveland Pass, Fremont Pass, and (like the original Joe Lookingbill course) ending with a climb (and exhilarating descent) of the stunning Independence Pass. As one nine-time Denver-to-Aspen veteran noted after the ride, "it's what Denver-to-Aspen was meant to be!" Congratulations to all of this year's participants who tackled this new, intimidating Denver-to-Aspen course!

Billy Edwards leads the charge up Lookout Mountain en route to Aspen. Photo by S. Legagnoux.

2015 Denver-to-Aspen Event Summary:

Course:
  • 181 miles, 16,000+ feet of climbing
  • 5 categorized climbs:
    • Lookout Mountain: Cat 2 (Golden to I-70 entrance) 
    • Loveland Pass (elev. 11,990 ft): HC (from Georgetown)
    • Swan Mountain Road: Cat 4
    • Fremont Pass (elev. 11,318 ft): Cat 1 (from Copper Mountain)
    • Independence Pass (elev. 12,095 ft): HC (from Twin Lakes)
  • 2 crossings of the Continental Divide: Loveland Pass and Independence Pass
Participants: 
  • 20 pre-registered riders
  • 18 ride starters, 1 early withdrawal, 1 late withdrawal. Of the riders who started, 17 were men, 1 (brave-hearted) woman (You go, Diane!)
  • 14 official finishers (78% finishing rate), successfully completing this epic course in under 16 hours, 15 minutes  (>11.1 m.p.h.). 
  • The trio of Mark Lowe, Stephen Strayer, and Walter Zitz recorded the fastest finishing time of the day, completing the new Denver-to-Aspen course in a total elapsed time of 11 hrs, 3 min (17.1 mph). 
  • Congratulations to Diane Benoit of Morrison, our lone female finisher. Diane finished this year's Denver-to-Aspen with a time of 13 hrs, 46 min (13.1 mph).
Mark Lowe, Stephen Strayer, and Walter Zitz pull into the checkpoint on top of Fremont Pass.
Photo by S. Legagnoux.
Special thanks to the following individuals from giving out their valuable time to support this year's Denver-to-Aspen. We simply cannot run these events in their current format without their help! Thanks so much to each of you!
  • Corinne Warren
  • Amanda Strayer
  • Also providing support on the course:
    • Rick Melick
    • Scott Grow
  • Special thanks to Susanne Legagnoux, who provided some wonderful action-packed photos for our blog! 

Brief Results:

Name Age  Hometown Total Time
Strayer, Stephen 37 Noblesville, IN 11:03
Zitz, Walter 29 Englewood, CO 11:03
Lowe, Mark 41 Arvada, CO 11:03
Edwards, Billy 37 Boulder, CO 11:20
Horwood, Josh 35 Loveland, CO 12:04
Franz, Ryan 37 Boulder, CO 12:14
Rudolph, Steve 55 Westminster, CO 12:19
Rondon, Janz 36 Denver, CO 12:29
Kaminski, Jason 45 Longmont, CO 12:49
Miller, Tom 45 Denver, CO 12:59
Johnson, Kieran 37 Denver, CO 13:37
Sendor, Jon 58 Denver, CO 13:37
Benoit, Diane 57 Morrison, CO 13:46
Legagnoux, Thierry 44 Ableiges, FR 13:46
Baker, Chris 44 Firestone, CO DNF
Rosenthal, Harris* 53 Denver, CO DNF
Nelson, David 60 Greenwood Village, CO DNF
Shannon, Kelly 54 Denver, CO DNF

*Wishing you a speedy recovery, Harris! I hope to see you back out on the road soon!



By completing the challenging, new Denver-to-Aspen course, the following riders have successfully completed the 2015 Colorado Triple Crown:
  • Diane Benoit (4th Triple Crown)
  • Ryan Franz (3rd Triple Crown)

Jon Sendor and Kieran Johnson crest the spectacular Loveland Pass. Photo by S. Legagnoux.
Jason Kaminski is feeling a little shy on oxygen on top of Loveland Pass! Photo by S. Legagnoux.
Feeling the lack of oxygen, Thierry Legagnoux summits Loveland Pass en route to Aspen. Photo by S. Legagnoux.
Janz Rondon summits Loveland Pass on his way toward completing Denver-to-Aspen and his first Colorado Triple Crown event. Photo by S. Legagnoux.
Jon Sendor charges up Fremont Pass. Photo by S. Legagnoux.

Mark Lowe, Walter Zitz, and Stephen Strayer arrive at the Woody Creek Tavern,
relieved to have completed the new Denver-to-Aspen course!
Flexing some muscle at the end of day, Billy Edwards used Denver-to-Aspen as a warm-up
for the Ultraman World Championships in November. Great ride, Billy!
Josh Horwood arrives at the Woody Creek Tavern, relaxed and composed at the end of this year's ride.

Ryan Franz stands by his trusty Litespeed steed at the Woody Creek Tavern! 

Steve Rudolph is exhausted (but still smiling) at the end of Denver-to-Aspen.
Janz Rondon rode admirably to complete Denver-to-Aspen and his first Colorado Triple Crown event. Great ride!
Jason Kaminski is relieved to be back at the Woody Creek Tavern! Great ride, Jason! 
Tom Miller finds his climbing form during this year's Denver-to-Aspen.

Kieran Johnson is all business at the conclusion of Denver-to-Aspen! Great ride, Kieran!

Jon Sendor successfully completes his first Denver-to-Aspen! Great ride, Jon!
Time to take a breather (to get ready for next season, of course!) 
Thierry Legagnoux (visiting from Ableiges, France!) and Colorado Triple Crown veteran, Diane Benoit, worked together to complete the challenging new Denver-to-Aspen course. Great ride to both of you! 
Mark Lowe and Thierry Legagnoux at the Woody Creek Tavern. (Rumor has it that Thierry was going to throw in the towel at Twin Lakes, but decided to press on toward Aspen. And he finished in plenty of time! Great ride, Thierry!)

Corinne Warren and Amanda Strayer are exhausted after a long day of supporting riders!
Thanks so much for your help!!!

Next up: Telluride 200/Mountains to Desert: September 26, 2015!!!

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