Sunday, July 31, 2016

2016 Cripple Creek Crippler Recap: Man, That Was HARD!!!

The beautiful Cathedral Spires from Southwest Platte Canyon Road, a welcome reminder to participants of the Cripple Creek Crippler that the end of a really HARD day is near.....sorta! Only 25 miles (and a little more climbing up Foxton Canyon) to the finish! (Photo: Mark Lowe)

The Cripple Creek Crippler is an ominous name that invokes nightmares in riders who've completed this grueling double century. When asked about the "Crippler," the consensus is unanimous amongst Colorado Triple Crown veterans. The "Crippler" is a HARD ride, equally as challenging as hardest double centuries in the Colorado and California Triple Crowns series. The "Crippler" is much different than the other events of the Colorado Triple Crown series. It doesn't have the epic high alpine climbs and majestic mountain vistas of the other events of the Colorado Triple Crown. The high point of the course, in fact, only reaches 10,200 feet, which is much lower in elevation than the other events of the series. In spite of this fact, the  appropriately named "Crippler" is never flat! Participants are either climbing or descending the entire day! By the time the damage is done, participants have climbed over 19,000 debilitating feet in 207 miles as course traverses through the rolling foothills of Jefferson County, Douglas County, and Teller County.

In spite of not having classic Colorado high alpine climbs, the "Crippler" course has more than its share of stunning Colorado scenery! Participants capture amazing views of Pikes Peak throughout the day. The heart of the course also includes portions of the Gold Belt Scenic Byway as participants make the challenging climb to the mining (and gambling) community of Cripple Creek, CO.  And the final 42 miles the course, climbing 4,400 feet up the inferno-esque Deckers Rd and plush Foxton Canyon, is as beautiful (and cruel) of an ending to a double century as you will find anywhere!

13 RMCCers threw their hat into the ring to test their physical and mental fortitude against the mighty Cripple Creek Crippler. Mother Nature was once again cooperative for another 2016 Colorado Triple Crown event, providing mostly blue skies with a few light rain showers between Cripple Creek and Divide. And although temperatures were on the toasty side (mid 80s) along the climbs up to Cripple Creek and along CO-67/Deckers Road, they were not as brutal as they could have been!  This year's event had a 100% finishing rate, remarkable for such a difficult ride! Congratulations to all of this years participants and many thanks to our volunteers!

Cripple Creek Crippler participants capture views of Pikes Peak throughout day as they make the epic pilgrimage to Cripple Creek! (Photo: Mark Lowe)
2016 Cripple Creek Crippler Event Summary: 

  • 207 miles, 19,000+ feet of climbing
  • MANY categorized climbs:
    • Deer Creek Canyon: Cat 2
    • High Drive: Cat 3
    • Brook Forest: Cat 2
    • Buffalo Creek Climb (a.k.a, Little Scraggy Peak Climb): Cat 2
    • Deckers to West Creek: Cat 2
    • Teller County Rd 1 to Cripple Creek: Cat 2
    • Cripple Creek to Tenderfoot Pass: Cat 3
    • Colorado Climb 67 (south of Divide): Cat 4
    • CO 67 to Westcreek: Cat 4
    • Deckers Rd (from Deckers toward Buffalo Creek): Cat 2
    • Platte River to High Grade (including Foxton Canyon): Cat 2
  • 19 hour time limit
  • 15 pre-registered riders
  • 13 ride starters, 1 early withdrawals, 1 late withdrawal. Of the riders who started, 12 men, 1 women
  • 13 official finishers (100% finishing rate....0 DNFs!), successfully completing this epic course in under 19 hours (avg. speed > 10.9 m.p.h.).
  • Mark Lowe, unable to catch the ghosts Walter Zitz and Stephen Philips from 2014 (Course record: 12:43), posted the speediest time of the day with a total elapsed time of 13 hours, 19 minutes. Corinne Warren, our lone female participant, recorded an excellent time of 16 hours, 37 minutes to complete her first Cripple Creek Crippler. 

The climb out of Cripple Creek along CO-67 peaks at Tenderfoot Pass (10,200 feet). Riders have 14,000 feet of climbing in their weary legs by the time they reach the high point of the Crippler course. (Photo: Mark Lowe)

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!
  • Craig Howell. Craig once again drove our lone support vehicle, providing amazing support for this year's riders at Conifer, Deckers, and Cripple Creek.
  • Aiden and Elora Warren. Aiden and Elora gave up a day of their summer vacation to provide event support for participants in Divide. Thanks, guys! 
  • Wayne Lawton. Long-time club member, Wayne Lawton, ran an aid station in Deckers, servicing parched riders who had just made the long descent from Woodland Park.

RESULTS: 2016 Cripple Creek Crippler

Mark is still smiling but seriously thinking about selling the bikes and taking up speed crocheting after this ride! What an ass-kicker! 
Coming off of a commanding ride at this year's Colorado High Country 1200km, Josh Horwood continues to get faster and faster at these double centuries! Great ride, Josh!
Cagey Colorado Triple Crown veteran, Steve Rudolph, and Triple Crown rookie, Caleb Carl, hold each other up after being debilitated by the "Crippler!" Great ride, guys!
Andy Stockman is cool, calm, and collected after completing his first Cripple Creek Crippler on his new steed, a Foundry multi-terrain hydraulic disk brake road bike. Great ride, Andy!
Instagram this! Tom Miller is BY FAR the most fashionable participant in this year's "Crippler," showing off his neon pink socks and Swatch, along with the neon yellow accents of his Camelback! (Yes...I'm sure the Strava Kudos Army will take notice!!)
Chris Miner survived the dreaded bonk to finish strong! Great ride, Chris! And congratulations on completing your first Triple Crown series!
Jon Sendor is smiling but exhausted at the end of the "Crippler!" It is easy to underestimate the difficulty of this ride! Great ride, Jon! Enjoy your down season!
Ray Rupel battled through a case of bronchitis to complete the mighty Cripple Creek Crippler. Great ride, Ray! (Just food for thought, Ray: Dick Wiss was 63 years old when he completed his last Colorado Triple Crown!) 

David Nelson, also recovering from the Colorado High Country 1200 km brevet, is a bit disappointed to give his "Lantern Rouge" status for this year's Crippler. Great ride, David!
Corinne Warren and Graham Barnes at the conclusion of this year's "Crippler." Corinne had a close call with a crash descending Little Bear Cub Rd before sunrise, but escaped injury! Graham is one ride away from completing his second Colorado Triple Crown. Great ride, guys! 
Jason Turner, also recovering from the Colorado High Country 1200 km brevet,  successfully completes his second Cripple Creek Crippler! Nice ride, Jason! Glad to have you back!

The inferno! The 4-mile, 8% climb out of Deckers doesn't sound that bad, but couple that with mid-afternoon 90-degree temperatures and 16,000 cumulative feet of climbing by the top of the climb and Deckers Road becomes a beast! (Photo: Mark Lowe)
Riding through the inferno! Entire mountainsides were stripped bare along Deckers Rd and CO-67 by the Hayman Fire
(2002), which at the time was the largest wildfire in Colorado history. All that remains for miles and miles are the charred skeletons of once majestic pine trees. Barren hillsides and toasty temperatures take their toll on the psyche of parched riders!  (Photo: Mark Lowe)

The beautiful South Valley Park from near Ken Caryl Ranch in Littleton, CO (Photo: Mark Lowe)

Beautiful skies at the conclusion of a really challenging ride!  (Photo: Mark Lowe)

By completing the Cripple Creek Crippler, the following riders have successfully completed the 2016 Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations to each of you! 

  • Tom Miller (6)
  • Chris Miner (1)
  • Ray Rupel (3)
  • Corinne Warren (2)