Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2018 Cycle to Saturn Double Century Recap

Views of the descent down the beautiful Guanella Pass (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
On Saturday, June 30, 2018, 18 brave-hearted members of the RMCC accepted the challenge to ride the formidable Cycle to Saturn Double Century. With nearly 20,000 feet of climbing and an average altitude of nearly 9,000 feet, Cycle to Saturn is arguably one the world's most challenging double centuries. Inspired by the professional Saturn Cycling Classic of the early 1990s, the double century event follows a similar course to the original race course used by the professionals. Whereas the Saturn Cycling Classic started in Boulder and initially climbed Coal Creek Canyon, the current Cycle to Saturn double century course first climbs the lighter-trafficked Golden Gate Canyon. From the high point of Golden Gate Canyon, however, the two courses are identical, climbing over the intimidating gravel (and rocky) Oh My God Road, Guanella Pass (which is now completely paved, a huge improvement compared to the '90s when the southern descent was completely unpaved and many pro riders opted to descend the pass on mountain bikes), Kenosha Pass, and Hoosier Pass before dropping into the mountain resort town of Breckenridge. The Cycle to Saturn Double Century then continues on a challenging return route to Golden via the breath-taking, nearly 12,000 foot Loveland Pass before eventually dropping back into Golden.  In spite of the forecast for thunderstorms, the thundershowers never materialized and riders had smooth sailing for the entire day. 18 riders started this year's event and 14 finished. Congratulations to all the riders who attempted this extremely intimidating double century!

Riders at the start of this year's event (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
2018 Cycle to Saturn Double Century Summary:


  • 201 miles, approximately 20,000 feet of climbing
  • 9 categorized climbs:
    • Golden Gate Canyon, 9,356 feet: HC category
    • Black Hawk to Virginia Canyon Summit: Category 2
    • Guanella Pass, 11,670 feet: HC category
    • Kenosha Pass, 9,997 feet, Category 2
    • Red Hill Pass, 9,993 feet, Category 4
    • Hoosier Pass, 11,542 feet, Category 2
    • Swan Mountain Road, Category 5
    • Loveland Pass, 11,991 feet, Category 1
    • Floyd Hill, Category 3
  • 18 pre-registered riders. 18 ride starters, 2 volunteer pre-rides. Of the 18 riders who started, 16 were men, 2 were women.
  • 14 riders successfully completed the course within the 20 hour time limit (77% finishing rate, 10.05 mph avg speed), 4 DNFs.
  • In spite of out-running 3 support vehicles, Caleb Carl posted a blistering time of 12 hours, 34 minutes (16 mph), a new course record and very impressive time for this challenging course! 
  • Corinne Warren, who experienced multiple flat tires during this year's event, overcame adversity to complete the event in 17 hours, 19 minutes (11.6 mph), a new women's course record! 

Thanks to the following individuals for volunteering time to volunteer for this year's event! We cannot run these events in their current timed format without their help:
  • Blaine Bates - support driver
  • Oksana Kovalenko - support driver
  • Erika Van Meter - support driver
  • Ray Rupel - finishing time keeper

Ominous skies never really mounted to rain in spite of the forecast for afternoon thunderstorms. (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Caleb Carl arrives in Golden in record-setting time! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Ryan Franz and Mark Lowe arrive at the checkpoint in Jefferson en route to a solid day on the bike! (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Tom Miller had a solid day on the bike and continues to demonstrate that big men can climb! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Keith Jensen arrives at the summit of Virginia Canyon  before beginning the tricky descent down Oh My God Road (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Rich Rodgers had a stellar Cycle to Saturn! Great ride, Rich! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Harris Rosenthal keeps coming back for more! Great ride, Harris! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Jason Kaminski had a relatively smooth day during this year's event! I think it's because he opted to wear the stellar RMCC pink jersey! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Corinne Warren had multiple flat tires on Oh My God Road, but still posted a PR and new women's course record! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Andy Stockman had a strong ride at this year's event! Great ride, Andy! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Chris Baker shows that he still has the right stuff on the road even with his new affinity for mountain bikes! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Jonathan Fey rolls into Jefferson en route to his first Cycle to Saturn Double Century! Great ride! (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Michael Bass is justifiably very excited to have completed a very difficult double century! Great ride, Michael! (Photo: Ray Rupel)
Adam Kazilisky used all but 10 minutes of the 20 hour time limit to complete Cycle to Saturn! Hey, man...just finish! (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Oksana Kovalenko is all smiles on top of Guanella Pass, knowing that her volunteer pre-ride is complete! (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Erika Van Meter and Corinne Warren on top of Guanella Pass. (Photo: Oksana Kovalenko)
Jason Kaminski, Chris Baker, Rich Rodgers, and Tom Miller in Jefferson.  (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
In spite of getting his butt kicked by the Cycle to Saturn course, Mark manages to flex some muscle on top of Guanella Pass.....before cramping really badly! (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
Andy Stockman looks suave in his Rapha kit as he climbs to the summit of Virginia Canyon. (Photo: Erika Van Meter)
There is simply nothing to look at on the Cycle to Saturn course. The scenery is simply awful! :) (Photo: Erika Van Meter)

By completing the Cycle to Saturn Double Century, the following riders have successfully completed the 2018 Colorado Triple Crown! Congratulations to each of you! 

  • Ryan Franz
  • Oksana Kovalenko
  • Mark Lowe
  • Tom Miller
  • Corinne Warren

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

2018 Colorado Mesa Double Century Recap

Views from the stunning Grand Mesa during the 2018 Colorado Mesa Double Century

Sometimes, the unimaginable happens...

Who would have imagined that on May 25, 2018, the evening before the Colorado Mesa Double Century, a semi-truck would explode in the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park along I-70 in De Beque Canyon, sparking a raging wild fire that would torch the state park and close I-70 in both directions? The unimaginable Memorial Day weekend wild fire, which stranded several participants in De Beque Canyon to the east of the fire, closed the short section of I-70 through De Beque Canyon that participants of the Colorado Mesa Double Century had to ride through the next morning to reach the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, the first major climb of the event.

With the entire event in limbo and without knowing when the fire would be contained, event volunteers made a late night decision with less than six hours before the start of the event to postpone the ride and open it to participants as an open, unsupported course when I-70 reopened, most likely on Sunday. Unbelievably, fire fighters were able to completely control the blaze, which had scorched 170 acres, and reopen I-70 in both directions shortly after midnight, less than two hours after the decision had been made to postpone the event.

With I-70 now open, many participants decided to head out as originally planned on Saturday morning in quasi-brevet (i.e., semi-supported) format. Event organizers scrambled to provide some support at key locations on the course (Colbran, Grand Mesa, and Kannah Creek), which was a good thing as temperatures soared to 97 degrees to the south of Grand Junction, which is unusually warm for the Western Slope during the month of May. However, participants were left to fend for themselves in Cedaredge, Delta, and on the south side of Grand Junction by self-supporting at convenience stores along the course.

In spite of the chaotic start to the event, 10 of 15 preregistered riders ventured out onto the Colorado Mesa Double Century course on Saturday. And two more riders rode the course entirely without support on Sunday! Kudos to all of this year's participants for keeping a positive attitude when the unimaginable occurred and all of our plans went up in a puff of smoke!

The twisty descent down Reeder Mesa forces riders to feather their brakes! 
  • 201.8 miles, 13,000+ feet of climbing
  • 3 categorized climbs:
    • Grand Mesa Scenic Byway (North) from Mesa to Grand Mesa summit, elevation 10,875 feet: HC Category
    • Kannah Creek Climb, elevation 6,160 feet: Category 4
    • Colorado National Monument, south gate to Rimrock Drive high point, elevation 6,640 feet: Category 2
  • 15 pre-registered riders
  • 10 ride starters on Saturday, 2 ride starters on Sunday, 10 official finishers (83% finishing rate with limited support) successfully completed the course in less than 17.5 hours (>11.5 m.p.h.), 2 DNFs. Of the riders who started, 10 men, 2 women. 2 volunteer pre-ride finishers, 2 volunteer pay-back finishers. Given the semi-supported format, riders were given a little extra time to complete the event. All participants who finished, however, still managed to finish in < 17.5 hours! 
  • Congratulations to Caleb Carl who posted the fastest overall time of the day, total elapsed time: 10 hours, 36 minutes (19 mph), 39 minutes faster than last year's time! Smokin'! 
  • Congratulations to Corinne Warren who posted the fastest women's time of the day in 13 hours, 55 minutes (14.44 mph), her fastest double century to date. Great ride, Corinne! 
Special thanks to our volunteers!
  • Mark Lowe: Colbran and Grand Mesa
  • Erika Van Meter: Kannah Creek 

Jaw-dropping views from the Colorado National Monument!
Caleb Carl returns to Fruita after blazing the Colorado Mesa Double Century course.

Caleb Carl, Corinne Warren, and Erika Van Meter relax after a long day of riding and volunteering! 
Noah and Sparky Sears, mountain bikers by training, adventure seekers by heart, complete their first double century. Great ride, guys! So what's next? The Colorado Trail Race? The Tour Divide? Only time will tell! :) 
Harris Rosenthal is relieved to have survived the heat, the wind, and the Colorado Mesa Double Century! Great ride, Harris!
Ray Rupel survived a flat tire on his tubeless set up at Kannah Creek but still managed an impressive ride! 
Michael Bass completes the Colorado Mesa Double Century and is attempting to complete his first Colorado Triple Crown! Great ride, Michael!
Jason Turner kept the wheels rolling to successfully finish his second Colorado Mesa Double Century!
It is pretty obvious why the Colorado National Monument is considered Western Colorado's showpiece ride!

Friday, May 11, 2018

2018 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Recap

Pikes Peak on an amazing weather day during the 2018 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder
On Saturday, May 5, 2018, members of the RMCC ventured to Monument, CO to tackle the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, the RMCC's only true gravel event. The AntiEpic Gravel Grinder consists of 2 events: the mighty AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Double Century (i.e, 206-mile long course), which is one of the more intimidating events on the RMCC Challenge Series calendar, and the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Mini-Epic (i.e., short course), a 76-mile course that includes 5,600 feet of climbing in the form of short, but steep rollers. The weather was about as anti-epic as it gets, which always a good thing for riders attempting to complete an epic adventure on the bike! Participants were blessed with bright, sunny skies, comfortably temperatures, and light winds for the entire day! And perhaps for the first time in the history of the entire universe, long-course riders were blessed with tail winds (or light cross winds) in nearly every direction! Due to an unusually dry winter, the dirt and gravel roads to the east of Castle Rock and Monument were especially rugged this winter, strewn with miles of sand and wash board; however, during the week prior to the event, the area received nearly 2-3 inches of rain, muting the unusually rugged roads and smoothing out the course for this year's participants. The favorable weather conditions and the fast-rolling roads laid the foundation for the fastest times that we have ever witnessed on this course! Congratulations to all of this year's participants!


2018 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Short-Course

2018 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Long-Course

Video Slide Show: 2018 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder

  • Long course: 206 miles, 12,000 feet of climbing. Time limit: 22 hours. The long course was over 5 miles longer this year and included a 5+ mile detour around the notorious "B-road," CR 98, which has been permanently closed by Elbert County.
  • Short course: 76 miles, 5,600 feet of climbing. Time limit: 9 hours
Andrews Road drops into the Greenland Open Space, the first taste of gravel during the AntiEpic Double Century

Short Course:
  • 48 short-course ride starters, 47 official finishers (98% finishing rate) successfully completed the short-course in less than 9 hours (>8.4 m.p.h.), 1 DNF, 4 DNS. Of the riders who started, 41 men, 7 women.
  • Congratulations to Simon Phuah and Bret Wichert who finished together in a record-setting time of 4 hours, 7 minutes (average speed 18.5 mph). Simon and Bret's time was 2 minutes faster than the record set by Brad Mosier and Chris Beaudin in 2017.
  • Congratulations to endurance maestro, Janie Hayes, who finished tied for second overall with a time of 4 hours, 11 minutes, shattering the previous women's record Kimberly Ober (5 hours, 54 minutes, 2017). I have a hunch that Janie's record is going to stand for long time! 
Simon Phuah and Bret Wichert at the conclusion of the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Short-Course.
Janie Hayes chases the lead group en route to her record setting ride! Janie is a true master of all distances! Janie was the 3rd overall finisher of the 2017 Trans Am Bike Race, a 4,300 mile unsupported road race from Astoria, Washington to York Town, Virginia, perhaps the most difficult road race on the planet! 
Long Course:
  • 22 long-course ride starters, including 12 Triple Crown rookies(!), 19 official finishers (86% finishing rate) successfully completed the long course in less than 22 hours (>9.4 m.p.h.), 3 DNFs. Of the riders who started, 20 men, 2 women. 
  • Congratulations to Nicholas Kulesa, who posted a blistering time of 12 hours, 27 minutes. Due to a support mishap, Nicholas was given a 14 minute time credit, so his official finishing time is 12 hours, 13 minutes (16.9 mph)...not too shabby his first double century, and a gravel double century at that! 
  • Congratulations to Oksana Kovalenko, who posted the fastest women's time of the day in 16 hours, 28 minutes (12.5 m.p.h.). Oksana and Laura Furey, who finished later in the day, are the only two women to have ever finished the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder long-course! Congratulations to both of you! 
Nicholas Kulesa and Jeremiah Gantzer had blistering days on the bike, posting times that have never been seen before on the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder course! Great ride, guys! 
Oksana Kovalenko with Triple Crown veteran, Ray Rupel, and Triple Crown rookie, Dustin Harding, at the end of an AntiEpic day.
Adam Kazilisky becomes the only rider to have ever completed the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder on a single speed! To give credit where it's due, Adam is also somewhat of a bad-ass, finishing 16th at the 2015 Trans Am Bike Race! Great ride, Adam!
Special thanks to this year's volunteers for providing support for this season's event. We cannot run these events in their current timed format without volunteer help! Thanks to David Nelson, Nat Schub, Erika Van Meter, Eric Wais, Corinne Warren, and Mark Lowe for a long day of supporting riders! Also, thanks to Josh Gillam (Laura Furey's significant other), for his help supporting long-course riders during the day! 

Endless rollers during the final 40 miles of the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder.