Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017 Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop Recap

Stunning high alpine tundra as viewed from Rocky Mountain National Park's famed Trail Ridge Road.
On Saturday, July 8, 2017, 30 members of the RMCC attempted to etch their names into the annals of RMCC cycling history by riding the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop. This year's event, which included 15 Grand Loop veterans and 15 rookies, was our largest Grand Loop to date! With slightly under 16,000 feet of climbing, the Grand Loop is a formidable double century and one of the oldest events in the RMCC's extensive repertoire of epic rides! The defining climb of the Grand Loop is the 5,000 foot, lung-searing climb over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road is a truly spectacular stretch of pavement! Climbing its way through meadows, pine forests, and past craggy peaks until it reaches barren, high-alpine tundra well above tree line, Trail Ridge Road ascends to a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet near Fall River Pass. And with seven continuous miles above 11,000 feet, Trail Ridge boasts the unique designation of the highest continuous highway in the Continental U.S. The climb up Ridge Road is never very steep: the maximum grade is only 7%. However, for Grand Loop participants who have nearly 10,000 feet of climbing in 81 miles for the day since departing from Golden, CO well before sunrise, the oxygen-deprived climb up Trail Ridge Road is a humbling experience! Grand Loop participants also climb Berthoud Pass (elev. 11,306 feet), an exposed and deceptively challenging climb that gains 2,300 feet from Winter Park. (Participants are actually climbing nearly continuously for 30+ miles from the time they depart from Granby, CO.) At the top of Berthoud Pass, participants are rewarded with over 7,000 feet of descending during the final 50 miles of the event. This descending is broken up by the short, but debilitating climb up Floyd Hill to the east of Idaho Springs.

This year's Grand Loop went off without too many hitches. Mother Nature was cooperative for most of the day. Comfortable temperatures--never brutally hot or cold--persisted for the entire day. And headwinds over Trail Ridge Road were virtually non-existent. Many participants even experienced pleasant tail winds from Granby to the base of Berthoud Pass. The "typical" afternoon monsoon thunderstorms did blossom over the I-70 corridor as participants made the final 50-mile trek from Berthoud Pass to Golden, but many riders found these gentle rains to be a soothing relief to the end of a challenging day. Although the weather was generally favorable for most of the day, participants did experience some significant delays from road construction in Idaho Springs during this year's event. With nearly the entire town of Idaho Springs under construction (no kidding!), Grand Loop participants had to follow a circuitous detour through the town to bypass the large construction zone. These delays easily cost participants 10-15 minutes. Also different for this year's event was the Interstate-70 bike trail, a new bike trail the runs from Bergen Park to the top of Lookout Mountain, bypassing the stressful 2-mile stretch of Interstate-70 that Grand Loop participants have ridden for years. Most participants were relieved to avoid the highly trafficked I-70!

The Grand Loop is named in remembrance of Tim Kalisch (1967 - 2011), who took his own life after struggling with years of depression. Tim's passing was a tragic loss to his family and fellow RMCC members. The Grand Loop continues to serve as reminder of a man and a talented cyclist who had such a grand impact on so many RMCC members.

Grand Loop participants capture views of Longs Peak (elev. 14,259 ft) on the south side of RMNP while climbing Trail Ridge Road.
2017 Grand Loop Event Summary:

Course:
  • 200 miles, nearly 16,000 feet of climbing
  • 8 categorized climbs:
    • Wyoming Circle Climb (Golden): Cat 4
    • 93 Climb (North of Golden along CO-93): Cat 4
    • US-36 (Lyons to Estes Park): Cat 1
    • Trail Ridge Road, from Estes Park (elev. 12,183 ft): HC
    • Victory Highway Climb (US-40 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.
Amazing views of the Hanging Valley to the north of Rainbow Curve in RMNP.
Participants: 
  • 32 pre-registered riders
  • 30 ride starters, 2 early withdrawals. With 30 starters, this was our largest Grand Loop to date! Of the riders who started, 25 were men, 5 woman. Also noteworthy: 1 tandem and 1 single speed!
  • 27 official finishers (90% finishing rate) successfully completing this epic course in under 18 hours (>11.1 m.p.h.). 
  • Caleb Carl recorded the fastest finishing time of the day, completing the Grand Loop in a total elapsed time of 11 hrs, 33 minutes (17.3 mph). Road construction in Idaho Springs cost Caleb an estimated 8-10 minutes. Billy Edwards can sleep peacefully for one more year. His course record of 11 hrs, 4 minutes (2013) remains intact.
  • Laura Anderson, riding tandem with her husband Chris Alstrin, posted the fastest women's time of the day (13 hours, 50 minutes). This is a RMCC record for completing the Grand Loop on a tandem (and a mixed tandem at that)! Congratulations, Laura and Chris! 
  • Andy Lapkass continues to amaze on his single speed road bike, completing this course in 15 hours, 56 minutes. Andy is the only known rider to have ever completed the Grand Loop on a single speed bicycle! Congratulations, Andy! 
The stunning Lava Cliffs in RMNP.
Special thanks to this year's volunteer! We simply cannot run these events in their current timed format without their help! Thanks to all of you! 
  • Fran Summerhill and Girvan Kroesing drove the support vehicle, carrying drop bags and providing support for riders in Lyons, Estes Park, and at the Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Carla and Andre Schub provided support for participants in Granby.
  • Chris Baker provided support for riders on top of Berthoud Pass.
  • Heidi Hartman recorded finishing times at Parfet Park in Golden.



Caleb Carl prepares to relax at Parfet Park in Golden after completing his second Grand Loop with the fastest time of the day! Congratulations, Caleb!
Walter Zitz (finally) completes his first Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop! Great ride, Walter! 
Ryan Franz, with only 1,000 miles in his legs for the season, casually posts the third fastest time of the day! Congratulations, Ryan!
Steve Rudolph and Mark Lowe are all smiles after dive-bombing Lookout Mountain in the rain to barely finish in under 13 hours!

Keith Jensen successfully completes another T.K.M. Grand Loop and his second Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations, Keith!
Laura Anderson and Chris Alstrin successfully complete their first Grand Loop on a tandem in record tandem time! Congratulations on a great ride! 
Jonathan Woo successfully completes his first Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop and first Colorado Triple Crown event. Thanks for joining us, Jonathan!

Tim Dodge is on the verge of greatness! Dirty Kanza...and one event away from completing his first Colorado Triple Crown...all in the same season! C'mon, Tim! I know you've got in you! How much effort do you give
Harris Rosenthal adds to his collection of Grand Loops! Great ride, Harris!
Kieran Johnson and Rico Stephen roll into Golden together to complete the T.K.M. Grand Loop. Rico successfully completes is first Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations to both of you!
Ray Rupel successfully completes another Grand Loop! Great ride, Ray!
David Nelson, now partially bionic after multiple surgeries this past year, is searching for another body part that he can borrow from Graham Barnes. Great ride, guys!
Jerry Arnold makes the great state of Nebraska proud by finishing the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop. Jerry is our first rider from Nebraska to finish the Colorado Triple Crown! Thanks for joining us this season, Jerry!

Nathaniel Schub successfully completes his first Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop and his first Colorado Triple Crown.  Congratulations, Nat!
Andy Lapkass completes his first T.K.M. Grand Loop and his second Colorado Triple Crown...on a single speed!!! Great riding, Andy!!!
Felix Wong completes the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop and is one event away from completing his first Colorado Triple Crown! Great ride, Felix!
Derek Henry completes his first Grand Loop and is on the verge of completing his first Colorado Triple Crown! Derek has informed me that he is going to use Ragbrai as training for the Denver to Aspen, the final Triple Crown event of the season. I agree 110%!! This is proper training for any Colorado Triple Crown event! :) Great ride, Derek!
Keith Thompson arrives in Golden after finishing his first Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop. Thanks for joining us, Keith! 
Mike Turek successfully completes his second Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop! Great ride, Mike!
After a 13 year hiatus, Erika Van Meter successfully completes her second Grand Loop...this time, without support! Great job, Erika!
Oksana Kovalenko finishes in the nick o' time to complete her first Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop! Great ride, Oksana!
Paul Grimm and his support crew, Theresa Daus-Weber, at the conclusion of the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop. Paul has an uncanny ability to cut it close, but somehow pull it off in the end. Great ride, Paul, and congratulations on your first Colorado Triple Crown!
Special thanks to Girvan Kroesing and Fran Summerhill for providing support for this year's event! Fran and Girvan drove the primary support vehicle, providing support in Lyons, Estes Park, and the Alpine Visitor Center in RMNP. I must admit, Fran, that you look a bit more tough driving that rental Nissan Titan than you do while driving your Mini Cooper! 
Chris Baker supports riders on top of Berthoud Pass. Thanks again, Chris! 
Endless mountain vistas and craggy peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Grand Lake and Lake Granby dominate the views to the east of US-40 after participants depart from RMNP en route to Granby. After a winter of heavy snows, both lakes are filled to capacity, which is good news for boating and other water enthusiasts. 
Clouds start to settle in on top of Berthoud Pass. Most riders experienced some rain during the final 50 miles of the ride as they made the 7,000-foot descent from Berthoud Pass back to Golden.
Stunning views from Trail Ridge Road during the 2017 TKM Grand Loop.
Caleb Carl slams down a banana on top of Berthoud Pass (Photo: Chris Baker)
Walter Zitz takes a breather on Berthoud Pass (Photo: Chris Baker)
Mark Lowe departs the checkpoint on Berthoud Pass (Photo: Chris Baker)
After reaching the summit of Bethoud Pass, Steve Rudolph is determined to catch Mark! (Photo: Chris Baker)
Laura Anderson and Chris Alstrin roll into the checkpoint at Berthoud Pass en route to the fastest Grand Loop ever on a tandem! (Photo: Chris Baker)
Keith Jensen on Berthoud Pass (Photo: Chris Baker)
Scott Griffith, who rode a very strong Grand Loop this year, arrives at Berthoud Pass. (Photo: Chris Baker)
Tim Dodge summits Berthoud Pass as storm clouds converge on Grand Loop participants. (Photo: Chris Baker)
Rico Stephen arrives at Berthoud Pass en route to his first Grand Loop and first Colorado Triple Crown! (Photo: Chris Baker)
David Nelson reaches the summit of Berthoud Pass in one piece! (Photo: Chris Baker)
Jerry Arnold at the summit of Berthoud Pass. (Photo: Chris Baker)
Nat Schub summits Berthoud Pass. (Photo: Chris Baker)
Andy Lapkass grinds his way up Berthoud Pass to become the first rider to ever complete the Grand Loop on a single speed road bicycle! (Photo: Chris Baker)
Felix Wong at the top of Berthoud Pass. (Photo: Chris Baker)
Rain can't put a damper on Mike Turek's spirits on top of Berthoud Pass! (Photo: Chris Baker)
Erika Van Meter reaches Berthoud Pass. (Photo: Chris Baker)
Oksana Kovalenko reaches to checkpoint at Berthoud Pass (Photo: Chris Baker)
Ahhh....the missing cookies!! Your mom was wondering what happened to those cookies! Yup...we see how things are, Nat! :) (Photo: Fran Summerhill)
David Nelson and Ray Rupel debate who is going to take Dick Wiss's record for the oldest rider to ever complete the Colorado Triple Crown at the checkpoint at the Alpine Visitor Center in RMNP. I wonder who will blink first??? (Photo: Fran Summerhill)
Jonathan Woo at the checkpoint in RMNP. (Photo: Fran Summerhill)
Derek Henry is all smiles at the Alpine Visitor Center! (Photo: Fran Summerhill)
Epic scenery in Rocky Mountain National Park (Photo: Fran Summerhill)


By completing the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop, the following riders have successfully completed the 2017 Colorado Triple Crown:

  • Arnold, Jerry (NE) (1) 
  • Barnes, Graham (3)
  • Grimm, Paul (UT) (1) 
  • Jensen, Keith (2) 
  • Lapkass, Andy (single speed) (2) 
  • Rosenthal, Harris (2)
  • Schub, Nat (1) 
  • Stephen, Ricardo (1) 
  • Warren, Corinne (3)*
*Rode the Grand Loop as a volunteer payback ride.

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