Sunday, May 29, 2011

Denver-to-Aspen: So what am I getting myself into?!?

The Joe Lookingbill Denver-to-Aspen Classic is the first of the RMCC Triple Crown events for 2011. So what challenges will you face during this event?

Well, to sum things up:

1) An epic 180 mile day on the bike!

2) Many long climbs at high altitude with over 13,500 vertical feet of climbing!

3) Spectacular Colorado scenery, including amazing views of the Mt. Evans Wilderness, Kenosha Pass, the South Park Valley, the Collegiate Peaks, Twin Lakes, Independence Pass, the Frying Pan Wilderness, and the ritzy the town of Aspen!

4) A chance to eat at the Woody Creek Tavern where the world-class nachos that are second-to-none!

5) A chance to pre-qualify for the Death Ride and Grand Loop if you can arrive at Woody Creek in less than 15 hours!

6) Memories to last a lifetime!!!

The Denver-to-Aspen ride can be broken down into 7 different segments:

1) Littleton to Conifer, 19.1 miles.

Leaving Checkpoint #1, the RTD Park-n-Ride at C-470 and Ken Caryl, the climbing begins immediately! After riding past South Valley Park, riders will begin the grind up Deer Creek Canyon, gaining 3,000 vertical feet to the town of Conifer (basic services). Please take advantage of port-o-potty facilities in Pleasant Park along the way if you need to! From Conifer, riders will turn west onto Hwy 285 and ride 1.7 miles to Checkpoint #2, the Conifer RTD Park-n-Ride. Please note that riders will need lights to safely navigate the first segment of this ride!

2) Conifer to Kenosha Pass, 31.2 miles.

Participants will continue riding west on Hwy 285, facing an onslaught of large rollers as they pass through Pine Junction (store). Hwy 285 has an excellent shoulder to ride on during this section and traffic is usually light during the early morning hours. From Pine Junction, riders begin a short but blazing descent down Crow Hill toward the town of Bailey (basic services, personal SAG vehicles allowed here). Of note, please watch for rumble strips after Pine Junction as they will definitely catch your attention if you're not paying attention! As participants ride west from Bailey, Hwy 285 will continue to undulate upward to the town of Grant (no services). Riders will appreciate the pristine mountain scenery of the Mt. Evans Wilderness to the north!

From Grant, riders will begin a moderate climb to Checkpoint #3, the summit of Kenosha Pass, gaining approximately 1,500 vertical feet in 7 miles. Kenosha Pass is a playground for many off-road enthusiasts, including mountain bikers and four wheelers, so please be wary of traffic! By the time riders reach the top of Kenosha Pass, they will have climbed nearly 7,000 vertical feet in 50 miles!

3) Kenosha Pass to Fairplay, 20.1 miles.

After summiting Kenosha Pass, riders will begin an exhilarating 3 mile descent down the western face of the pass into the beautiful South Park Valley. As riders cruise through South Park, they will pass through the town of Jefferson (basic services) and encounter a number of sweeping rollers along the way. Hwy 285 has a descent shoulder to ride on during this section as large portions of the road have been repaved in the past few years. Riders will then encounter a short but moderate climb up Red Hill Pass (9,993 feet) before descending to the town of Fairplay (basic services). Although Fairplay is not an official checkpoint, all riders are encouraged to stop here and refuel!

4) Fairplay to Buena Vista, 38.7 miles.

From Fairplay, riders will continue on Hwy 285 as it meanders southwest through the South Park Valley. Participants will then grind their way up Trout Creek Pass (9,346 feet), a short but moderate climb (with a notorious reputation for bad weather and wind during this event!), before embarking on a scenic descent to the small town of Johnson Village (basic services). Please note: The shoulder along this section of Hwy 285 is generally good, but there is an endless stream of rumble strips south of Fairplay. The shoulder does narrow in places as you descend Trout Creek Pass to the west. Please ride this section carefully as traffic can be a bit brisk! From Johnson Village, participants will ride north for 3 miles along Hwy 24 to Checkpoint #4 in Buena Vista (basic services). Riders are encouraged to refuel in Buena Vista if they are running a bit low on supplies as there is still another 43 miles and 4,200 feet of vertical gain to the top of Independence Pass!

5) Buena Vista to Twin Lakes, 25.3 miles.

From Buena Vista, participants will continue riding north along Hwy 24, enjoying the spectacular views of the Collegiate Peaks to the west! Hwy 24 climbs subtly for approximately 20 miles from Buena Vista to Balltown (no services). The road is in excellent condition with a wide shoulder, but it is not unusual to experience pesky headwinds along this section of Hwy 24.

Riders then turn west onto Hwy 82 (Independence Pass Road) at Balltown and will ride 6 miles along the northern shores of the Twin Lakes to Checkpoint #5 at the Twin Lakes Store. The views from Twin Lakes are truly spectacular, but headwinds off of the lakes can be a bit brisk! All riders should plan to stop and refuel here before beginning the final 2,700 foot ascent to the the top of the pass!

6) Twin Lakes to Indendence Pass Summit, 17.8 miles.

From the Twin Lakes store, participants will continue west along Hwy 82, passing through lush forests with waterfalls and wildflowers. As Hwy 82 continues to undulate upward, it will enter a large bowl of plush vegetation at the base of the final ascent. From there, riders will begin the daunting task of climbing Independence Pass Road as it snakes its way five miles to the top of the pass. The air will become noticeably thinner at this point in time as riders ascend into the stratosphere!!!

7) Independence Pass Summit to Woody Creek, 28 miles (and a whole lot of downhill!).

At an elevation of 12,095 feet, Independence Pass truly is one of Colorado's most spectacular mountain passes! Enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery and congratulate yourself on reaching the summit of this epic Colorado climb!  But don't celebrate too long...your work for the day is not done yet!!! You still have 28 miles (and a whole lot of downhill) to go! From the top of the pass, riders will begin a blazing descent as Hwy 82 plunges into the Frying Pan Wilderness. Please ride this descent with extreme caution  as Independence Pass Road is often strewn with large rocks and has many large potholes. The road is also very narrow in places, barely wide enough to allow one vehicle to safely pass through! The scenery, however, is absolutely stunning!!! You'll definitely wish you could spend a bit more time with your digital camera photographing aspen groves and wildflowers as you wind your way down the pass!

After descending over 4,000 vertical feet, participants will reach the ritzy town of Aspen. Riders will stay on Hwy 82 as it winds through town, cruising past the turnoff for both Snowmass Mountain Resort and the Aspen Airport (both to the west). Finally riders will turn right (east) onto Smith Way (one of the first right-hand turns after passing the airport) toward the bicycling friendly community of Woody Creek. Upon reaching your final destination at the Woody Creek Tavern, please have a RMCC official or a representative from the tavern validate your passport. Congratulations! Your hard work for the day is finally complete!!! Now enjoy some world-class nachos! Please note that the Woody Creek Tavern only accepts cash, not credit cards!

Denver-to-Aspen: How the heck do I get home after the ride???

Gettng home from Aspen after the big ride has always been a dilemma for many Denver-to-Aspen participants. Well, here are some suggestions for getting home:

1) Encourage your family or friends to meet you in Aspen! You can spend the rest of the weekend exploring the Aspen area with them and they can help transport you and your bike back home afterward.

2) Many riders use personal SAG vehicles, driven by family or friends, to support them during the ride. Please feel free to use the comments section below to try to find participants who might have extra space in their vehicles for transporting you and your bike back to Littleton!

3) Consider spending the night in Aspen or Glenwood Springs and then riding back the next day! I know this sounds crazy, but this would actually be excellent training for longer 24 hour events and multi-day events!

4) A group of riders who does not have transportation back to Denver could arrange to rent a large SUV or van to transport their bikes and gear back to the Denver area...

Please let us know if you have additional ideas!

Monday, May 23, 2011

General Information

1)   The Colorado Triple Crown, presented by the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club (RMCC), is a series of three (approximately) 200 mile timed bicycling events. These events are currently the three most difficult single-day double century road cycling events in the state of Colorado.

2)   The purpose of the RMCC Colorado Triple Crown is to promote the growth and development of ultra-cycling in the state of Colorado, encourage participation in long-distance cycling events, and recognize individual cyclists for their accomplishments and hard work.

3)   The events of the Colorado Triple Crown are NOT races; however, each stage is ridden as single-day, draft-legal timed cycling event.  Each stage has an overall time limit and each participant must complete each event in the designated time to receive an official finishing time. When participating in a Triple Crown event, the primary goal is simply to finish safely! However, participants are encouraged to challenge themselves and put their best effort into each event!

4)   Cyclists do NOT have to participate in all 3 stages. Participants may pick-and-choose which events they would like to participate in. Each official finisher will be recognized for his/her accomplishment! However, in order to earn the designation of Colorado Triple Crown Finisher, a cyclist must successfully complete all three stages in a single calendar year.

5)   These events are not "organized tours." You will not get fancy aid stations or an elaborate post-ride pasta dinner. You will not get a plastic bag full of event memorabilia. You will not get a personal massage after completing your event. You will not get a sparkly "I did it!" medal. Instead, you will earn the pride, recognition, and bragging rights of completing one (if not all) of the most difficult and spectacular sporting events on two wheels in the state of Colorado!

6)   Each event will be minimally supported with at least one support-and-gear (SAG) vehicle that will carry water and gear bags. Each participant is responsible for providing a well-marked gear bag containing additional supplies (food, clothing, and other gear) that he/she might require to successfully complete the ride. Cyclists may access their gear bags at checkpoints along each course.  

7)   Please be forewarned: each event of the Colorado Triple Crown is VERY challenging!!! At a distance of approximately 200 miles—and many thousands of vertical feet of climbing—each event is an extremely difficult physical and mental feat!!! Cyclists must be somewhat self-sufficient and be comfortable riding up to 40 miles without support. An "I can do it!" attitude is fantastic but will likely NOT be adequate to successfully complete the events of the Colorado Triple Crown! You need to come prepared for your event!

Registration and Prequalification

Scenic views from Imogene Pass Road near Ouray, CO

1) Registration for the events of the Colorado Triple Crown will open 3/1/2014! 

2) Registration will be available via two options: 1) On-line through RMCC Paypal Accounts or 2) Downloadable mail-in registration form. You may register for each of the events of the Colorado Triple Crown (Denver-to-Aspen, the Colorado Death Ride, the Grand Loop, and the Cripple Creek Crippler, Cycle to Saturn Double Century) by visiting the RMCC website

3) Register early! Preregistration is required to participate in the events of the Colorado Triple Crown. Registration is limited to the first 50 preregistered riders. Complete registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once we reach our 50-rider registration cap for a particular event, registration for that event will be closed for 2014. Pre-registration closes two days prior to the start of an event.

4) RMCC membership is required to register for the events of the Colorado Triple Crown. Please note that club membership has a very affordable $25 fee. RMCC membership has its advantages because it gives you access to other club events and discounts!

5) Each event of the Colorado Triple Crown will have an additional registration fee associated with it. These registration fees are cost-recovery fees and exist to help defray the costs of running the event, not to turn a profit for the club.

6) All participants may be asked to provide a valid driver’s license or other official proof of identification during the rider check-in.

7) The events of the Colorado Triple Crown are extremely challenging! For cyclists who are interested in participating, some ultra-cycling experience is highly recommended (but not required) to participate in Denver-to-Aspen. However, prequalification is required to ride the Colorado Death Ride, the Grand Loop, the Cripple Creek Crippler and the Cycle to Saturn Double Century. To prequalify for the final three events of the Colorado Triple Crown, riders must either: 1) successfully complete Denver-to-Aspen in less than 15 hours OR 2) complete the RMCC Black Forest 300km brevet in less than 14 hours. For other cyclists who are interested in participating, please contact Mark Lowe with a resume detailing your long distance cycling experiences:

8) You do not need to be prequalified in order to sign up for Colorado Triple Crown events; however, if a rider does not meet the prequalification requirements by the date of the event, he/she will not be allowed to participate. For any questions regarding prequalification, please contact Mark Lowe (

Rules, Regulations, and Safety

1)   All participants are required to wear an approved helmet at all times while they are riding. Failure to ride with a helmet will result in disqualification.

2)   The routes used during Colorado Triple Crown events are open to traffic! There are no road closures or police escorts. There are no course marshals. Cyclists must ride defensively with safety as their utmost priority!

3)   Riders shall obey all rules of the road! It is the rider’s responsibility to know the laws of the State of Colorado and to follow them. These are detailed at: Flagrant disregard of local and state traffic laws will result in disqualification. Please come to a complete stop at all stop signs and red lights and use hand signals appropriately.

4)   Lights that comply with Colorado law are required while riding during hours of darkness. Riders must have a white front headlight and a red taillight. Be sure you have fresh batteries! Participants riding during hours of darkness without operating lights will be disqualified! Please keep in mind that it is prudent to ride with VERY GOOD lights! Colorado mountain roads can often be strewn with rocks, sticks, or an occasional deer that wanders into the road! It is much easier to descend mountain passes safely when you can confidently see where you are going. Additionally, you will be able to ride more safely when weary-eyed drivers can easily see you from behind.

5)   Cyclists must also ride with reflective gear during the hours of darkness. Reflective vests (or a triangle) and reflective ankle bands are required while riding in low light conditions.

6)   Prior to the start of a Triple Crown event, each participant will receive an event passport. Each participant will also receive a course map and queue sheet that will provide turn-by-turn directions and locations of support points and checkpoints. Cyclists must stop at each checkpoint to have his/her passport signed and time noted by an RMCC official. If a RMCC official is not present, the cyclist should either: 1) stop at a nearby store to have his time verified by a store clerk OR 2) record his/her time on the passport and have the time validated by an RMCC official at the next checkpoint along the course. A participant may be disqualified if he/she misses a checkpoint or loses his/her time card. If a cyclist leaves the route, he/she must return to the route at the exact same location.

7)   Each event of the Colorado Triple Crown has a time limit. All participants must complete the course within the designated time limit to be listed as an official “Finisher” and receive Colorado Triple Crown credit. (Denver-to-Aspen in 17 hours, Colorado Death Ride in 19 hours, and Grand Loop in 18 hours.) Various checkpoints along each stage may also have time cut-offs.  A cyclist who reaches a checkpoint after it closes may not be allowed to continue riding OR may be shuttled ahead to the next control point along the course by the support vehicle. These riders unfortunately will be listed as “DNFs” and will not receive an official finishing time or Triple Crown credit. The time limits are imposed to maintain event safety and allow other participants to receive the support they need to successfully complete their ride.

8)   As a courtesy to the drivers of our support vehicles, we formally request that participants do not lean their bicycles up against a support vehicle. This can cause scratches to the support vehicles and may inhibit other riders from gaining easy access to their gear bags.

9)   The RMCC reserves the right to remove any rider from the course for the reasons of their own safety or the safety of others!

10) The RMCC requests that riders do not urinate in public view. Whenever possible, riders are encouraged to use the designated restroom facilities at checkpoints, including parks, convenient stores, restaurants, etc.

11) The use of MP3 players/I-PODS is not allowed as riders cannot safely hear approaching traffic.

12) Any rider found cheating or deliberately violating the above rules will be disqualified.

13) The RMCC ride director reserves the right to interpret any existing rule or regulation, or to invoke new rules or regulations that are deemed necessary. The ride director’s interpretation and decisions regarding the rule is final.

14) Results for each event will be listed in finishing order.

15)  As rider safety is out top priority, the RMCC reserves the right to postpone or cancel any of the Triple Crown events due to adverse weather conditions or dangerous road conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

      1)   Do you offer support and gear (SAG) support?
Yes. We will have at least one SAG vehicle on the course at all times. Participants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the support vehicle. Each rider may provide an easy-to-identify gear bag that he/she may use to transport extra food, nutritional supplies, clothing, etc. The support vehicle will transport each participant’s gear bag from one support point to the next. Each cyclist may access his/her gear bag at these support points. Please be aware that the support vehicle is first and foremost a safety vehicle. In the event of an emergency, the vehicle may have to leave the course. Riders should always be prepared to support themselves by carrying money to purchase food and beverages at stores along the route if necessary.

2)   Can I provide my own SAG vehicle?
Yes. The RMCC will allow (and encourages) individual cyclists to be supported by personal SAG vehicles. Participants should notify the ride director that they will receive personal SAG support prior to the start of the event. Cyclists who have personal support vehicles may be asked to provide support other participants. When supporting a rider, a personal SAG vehicle may only provide support for a rider at designated support points and checkpoints along the route. SAG vehicles may not follow, pace, or repeatedly “leapfrog” a rider, as this may disrupt to flow of traffic on narrow mountain roads and jeopardize the safety of other riders! Cyclists may not receive water bottle hand-offs from moving SAG vehicles. SEVERE WEATHER CONTINGENCY: If a cyclist encounters severe weather conditions, he/she may seek cover in a private support vehicle at any location along the course until the passage of the severe weather. Participants must resume cycling in the exact location where they left the course or will be disqualified.

3)   How come the RMCC does not provide more elaborate aid stations?
Because nutritional requirements vary greatly between cyclists, it is impossible to meet the dietary requests of every participant! Additionally, cyclists who are riding events of this caliber usually know what works best for them during ultra distance events. As such, participants must provide their own nutritional supplies (bars, gels, energy drinks, etc.) to successfully complete their event!

4)   How much water/food should I carry?
There may be as many as 40+ miles between checkpoints, so cyclists should carry at least 2 water bottles with them at all times. Some cyclists may even benefit from riding with a small Camelback. The official support vehicle will supply water to participants at designated support points. We also request that each cyclist ride with at least one energy bar between checkpoints to ward off the dreaded “bonk!” For additional nutritional needs, participants may stop at restaurants or convenient stores along the course to purchase additional food and beverages if necessary.

5)   Is aero equipment (e.g., aerobars, aero wheels) allowed?
Yes. The RMCC, however, requires that riders use aero equipment responsibly! Drafting is allowed! Please do not use aerobars while riding in pacelines or descending mountain passes! This can be extremely dangerous and can jeopardize the safety of other riders! Additionally, Colorado mountain passes are probably not the best place to use you deep-profile aero wheels as these wheels can be very difficult to safely handle in gusty mountain winds!

6)   How much climbing will I do during my event?
Each event of the Colorado Triple Climb has between 13,000 and 16,000 feet of vertical gain. None of the climbs the Triple Crown events exceed 12%; however, many of the climbs are LONG…be prepared for 20+ miles of continuous climbing! Altitude is also very important consideration!!! Each stage of the Colorado Triple Crown spends a substantial amount of time above 10,000 feet and sections of the Grand Loop and Denver-to-Aspen even exceed 12,000 feet! We strongly suggest that riders coming from out-of-town arrive a few days early to become acclimated to our thin Colorado air. High altitude sickness can affect any rider who is not adequately acclimated!
7)   What sort of mechanical support is provided during my event?
There will be very limited support available. Your bicycle needs to be in exceptional working order prior to start of your event and all participants need to be self-sufficient at fixing basic mechanical problems. The official support vehicle will be stocked with a floor pump for topping off your tires in case you flat. The drivers of our support vehicles are also willing to lend a hand if you have a mechanical problem; however, please keep in mind that the drivers of our support vehicles are NOT bicycle mechanics. If you have a mechanical failure that prevents you from completing a ride, you will be listed as a DNF. As such, we encourage you to use equipment that is reliable first, then lightweight or aero second.

8)   How will I navigate the course?
Each participant will receive a map and queue sheet during rider check-in. Each participant may also download a copy of the event cue sheet and map from the RMCC website prior to the start of the event. Queue sheets will provide turn-by-turn directions for navigating the event course. Each cyclist is responsible for navigating the course successfully by using the map and queue sheet! Courses are not marked, but please note that the Colorado Triple Crown routes are NOT difficult to navigate. The Colorado Death Ride, for instance, only has 6 turns in 225 miles!

9)   What sort of weather conditions will I encounter?
Colorado weather can be very unpredictable. On almost any given day in the summer it is possible to experience rain, hail, intense lightning, and even a freak snowstorm with sub-freezing temperatures! Riders are strongly encouraged to pay close attention to local weather forecasts in the days preceding their event and prepare accordingly! At a minimum, you should have a rain jacket, leg/knee warmers, shoe covers, and long-fingered gloves.

10) What additional equipment or supplies should I bring?
All cyclists MUST carry some form of identification and an emergency contact phone number! All participants should also carry spare tubes, a pump, a patch kit, basic tools, money/credit card, and a cell phone.

11) What should I do if I need to withdraw from my event?
If a rider is unable to complete a Colorado Triple Crown event for any reason, he/she must contact the ride director as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we are not set up to immediately pick you up if you need to withdraw from an event. If you must discontinue for a reason that is not an emergency and you do not have personal support, please attempt to arrange for private transportation to pick you up. Otherwise, please be prepared for the fact that it may be many hours before our SAG vehicle can pick you up.

12) What should I do if I experience an accident or serious medical issue?
If a rider is experiencing symptoms of a serious medical condition OR if a rider is involved in a collision or crash, he/she should contact emergency medical services ASAP (i.e., call 911)! Please notify the rider director as soon as possible!

13) Can I volunteer to support a Colorado Triple Crown event?
Finding volunteers to support our events can be a challenging endeavor! After all, the RMCC is a club of cyclists and we want to participate in these events too! If you (or a friend) are willing to volunteer for a Triple Crown event, please let us know! We can always use an extra hand!