Friday, December 16, 2011

Cripple Creek Crippler

Pikes Peak is one of Colorado's best known 14,000 peaks! Participants attempting to complete the "Crippler" will ride past this spectacular peak en route to Cripple Creek. 

Date: Back in the future!

Start time: 
Tortoises: Check-in: 1:45 AM, Start: 2:00 AM
Hares: Check-in: 2:25 AM, Start: 3:00 AM
If you expect to finish > 17 hours, start with the Tortoises!

Start location: Ken Caryl at RTD park-and-ride on the northeast corner of Shaffer Parkway and Ken Caryl Avenue in west Littleton, just east of interchange with C-470.

Distance/climbing: 207 miles, 19,500 feet. 

Brief Description: Making its debut in 2012, the Crippler Creek Crippler is one of our newest Colorado Triple Crown events. Featuring relentless rollers and steep climbs, this event is anything but flat! Riders can expect a long, "crippling" day of climbing. From Ken Caryl, the route passes through the foothills communities of Conifer, Pine Junction, Deckers, and Woodland Park. Riders will then navigate the scenic (but steep) loop through the rustic mining community of Cripple Creek (elev. 9,494 feet) to the southwest of Colorado Spring, capturing spectacular views of Pikes Peak and the Pike National Forest along the way. Riders will then may the long journey home, passing through Woodland Park, Deckers, Pleasant Park in the reverse direction. Better get out your granny gear! This one's gonna hurt! Long, steep climbs of 8-12% will be the norm for the day.

No, this is not an EKG rhythm strip. This is the elevation profile for the Cripple Creek Crippler. However, as participants ride this extremely challenging course, it is very possible that their EKGs would resemble the above profile a times. As you can see, there's nothing flat about the Crippler. Riders can expect to be either climbing or descending for the duration of the event!

Note: RMCC membership is required. For more information regarding RMCC membership: RMCC Membership. 

Additional notes:
  1. Pre-qualification is encouraged to participate in this event. Please refer to the What's New for 2019? link for more information regarding pre-qualification. Please e-mail Mark Lowe for specific questions regarding pre-qualification.
  2. This event has an 20 hour time limit (10.9 mph). Riders must finish in less than 20 hours to receive an official finishing time and Colorado Triple Crown credit.
  3.  Lights and reflective gear are required!

Course Description:
Course description: The Cripple Creek Crippler can be broken down into six segments:

Scenic Views from South Valley Park. Impressive rock formations are the norm for the Crippler!

Section 1: Ken Caryl to Conifer, 32.1 miles

Starting in Littleton, CO (elev. 5,351 ft) to the southwest of Denver, the Cripple Creek Crippler will hit riders like a "ton of bricks!" Riders can expect to start climbing right from the start! The climbs featured in the first section of this route (Deer Creek Canyon RoadHigh Drive, and Brook Forest Road/Shadow Mountain Drive) are well-known to RMCC members as these climbs are part of the RMCC Foothills Climbfest, which is contested in May. These climbs include short, steep pitches that exceed grades of 14-15% in places. Riders can expect to climb 4,500 feet in the first 32 miles alone! Note: When ascending Deer Creek Canyon Rd, do not turn left onto Deer Creek Rd (toward High Grade Road). Stay right on Co Rd 124 (S. Deer Creek Canyon Rd) as it veers to the right! After completing the first three climbs, riders will eventually make the well-deserved descent down Shadow Mountain Dr to the first checkpoint, Checkpoint #1, Conifer, CO (elev. 8,278 ft) at Junction of Co Rd 73 and Shadow Mountain Dr.

Scenic pastoral views from Co Rd 126 (a.k.a Pine Valley Road and Deckers Road)
Deckers, CO, which lies along the beautiful South Platte River six miles to the southeast of Cheesman Lake, is a fly fisherman's dream (and a cyclist's paradise)!

Section 2: Conifer to Deckers, 32.6 miles. 
After arriving at the base of Shadow Mountain Dr in Conifer, riders will turn north onto Co Rd 73 for one mile before turning west onto US 285. Riders will venture west along US 285 for nearly seven miles to the community of Pine Junction, CO (elev. 8,448 ft). Please note that this section of Hwy 185 generally has a descent shoulder to ride on. However, riders need to be cautious as traffic can be brisk! From Pine Junction, riders will turn south onto the beautiful Pine Valley Road (Co Rd 126). This road, which features long rollers and punchy climbs, is simply one of the best kept cycling secrets in the state of Colorado! Co Rd 126 is never short on scenery and has a peaceful, "back country" feel to it, but is very exposed in places and can get brutally hot on a toasty summer afternoon. One ominous feature that riders will notice as they venture south through the communities of Pine and Buffalo Creek, however, are the barren hillsides, stripped bare of their trees by the 2002 Hayman Fire (which at the time was the worst wildfire in Colorado history, burning nearly 140,000 acres of pristine mountain wilderness in the Pike National Forest). The area of destruction is visible for miles and miles and is a constant reminder of how quickly our beautiful, back country wilderness can be destroyed by wildfires! Riders will appreciate this section as it features two long descents, including the long descent down Pine Valley Rd to Buffalo Creek, CO (elev. 6,762 ft) and the blazing four miles descent toward the next checkpoint, Checkpoint #2: Deckers, CO (elev. 6,400 ft) at the Deckers store. 

The 2002 Hayman wildfire destroyed large sections of pristine mountain forest along Co Rd 126 in 2002. At that time, this was the largest wildfire in Colorado history. 2012's Waldo Canyon wildfire (Colorado Springs) and High Park wildfire (Ft. Collins) even eclipsed the magnitude of the Hayman wildfire. 

Woodland Park, CO, with spectacular views of Pikes Peak in the background, will be a welcome site for riders after  23 miles of almost continuous climbing from Deckers. 

Section 3: Deckers to Divide, CO, 29.9 miles. 
From Deckers, riders will continue to head south as Co Rd 126 changes names to CO 67. Riders can
expect to climb gradually for nearly 30 miles! Many riders will find this section very difficult!! None
of the climbing in this section is very steep, but because it is long, it is guaranteed to take its toll on the psyche of many riders! As riders ascend gradually through the Pike National Forest, riders will continue to appreciate amazing mountain vistas, but also the barren hillsides destroyed by wildfires. As CO 67 meanders south, the road will continue to undulate upward toward Woodland Park, CO to the northwest of Colorado Springs. At this point in time, riders will begin to catch spectacular glimpses of Colorado's famed Pikes Peak to the south. As riders approach Woodland Park, traffic will become noticeably heavier. As such, riders need to exercise a bit more caution during the final few miles of this section! Once in Woodland Park (elev. 8,465 ft), riders will turn west along US 24 (also CO 67, which has a very wide, safe shoulder for cycling) for almost seven miles until they reach the town of Divide, CO (elev. 9,165 ft) and Checkpoint #3: Divide, Venture Foods (small grocery store) on the north side of the road.

Beautiful rock formations adorn Teller County Rd 1 as riders approach Cripple Creek from the northwest. 
The rustic mining (and gambling) community of Cripple Creek (elev. 9494 ft) marks the official "turn around" point of the Cripple Creek Crippler.

Section 4: Divide-to-Divide, the Cripple Creek Loop, 40.7 miles. 
This loop is a complete gem! It is one of the finest in the state!! From Divide, riders will continue their trek west along US 24, cresting Ute Pass (elev. 9,165 ft) to the west of Divide. Riders will then veer left onto the scenic, hilly Twin Rocks Road (Teller Co Rd 42) which eventually T-intersects with Teller Co Road 1 near the Florrisant Fossil Beds National Monument. Riders will turn left onto Teller Co Rd 1, which is part of the Gold Belt Tour, one of Colorado's Scenic Byways. Views from Teller County Rd 1 are truly beautiful! This road is never short on scenery! Impressive rock formations to pristine mountain pastures are visible from every direction and will help distract fatigued riders, who will have 108 miles in their weary legs before the real fun begins!  After riders reach the Evergreen Station restaurant eight miles to the northwest of Cripple Creek, the road will steepen significantly! Better get out your granny gear...this section is gonna hurt!! As Co Rd 1 pitches upward, riders will face an onslaught of steep climbs with sustained pitches between 8-12%. Riders should take caution as the pavement along Co Rd 1 is extremely rough in places with lots of potholes and cracks! After this seemingly endless series of climbs batter the weary legs of "Crippler" participants, riders will crest one final climb before making a well-deserved plunge into the rustic mining town of Cripple Creek, CO (elev. 9,494 ft). Shortly after reaching the Cripple Creek city limits, riders will ride past the Ace Hardware/Shamrock gas on the south side of Co Rd 1. (Please note that this is an event support point, but not a checkpoint!) Upon reaching Cripple Creek, riders will turn south onto 2nd St and make a quick left onto Bennett Ave, which eventually turns into CO 67 as it exits town to the east. As riders exit town, the climbing begins again in earnest! In fact, riders can expect to climb almost another thousand feet before reaching the high point of the Cripple Creek Crippler, just over 10,200 feet! The views of Cripple Creek to the west, however, are stunning, making this ascent to the course's high point worth it! 

Views of the rustic community of Cripple Creek from  CO 67, over 10,200 feet in elevation, the high point of the Cripple Creek Crippler. Riders can let out a sigh of relief after reaching this point as they can expect almost 46 miles of continous downhill (with a few short climbs along the way) as they make the long return to Deckers.

Finally...a reprieve!! After reaching the high point of the course, riders will embrace nearly 46 miles of extremely scenic downhills. As riders make the well-deserved plunge down CO 67, riders will continue to appreciate beautiful mountain scenery, including majestic views of Pikes Peak to the east. Riders need to continue to exercise caution during this descent as the road remains very rough in many places! As riders approach Divide from the south, they will cruise past the beautiful Mueller State Park. Eventually riders will reach Checkpoint #4, returning to Divide, CO. 

Riders can further appreciate the impressive scale of the wildfire damage as they ride CO 67 in reverse. 

Section 5: Divide to Deckers: 29.9 miles. 
This section of the course, which is almost entirely downhill, will be the best opportunity for riders to make up time. Don't dilly dally! From Divide, riders will turn east onto US 24 (also CO 67) and ride back to Woodland Park. Participants will then turn north onto CO 67. Please be cautious of traffic when making this left-hand turn! From Woodland Park, riders will experience nearly 23 more miles of glorious downhill (except for one short climb) before making the final plunge to Checkpoint #5, Deckers, CO at the Deckers store.

Beautiful views of the Cathedral Spires from SW Platte River Rd in Foxton Canyon, one of Jefferson County's best-kept cycling secrets! 
Serene views of the north fork of the South Platte River in Foxton Canyon
Section 6: Deckers to Ken Caryl: 42.3 miles.
Okay...every double century has its "cruel" moments. The Devil Mountain Double Century in San Ramon, CA features Sierra Road...3.5 miles and grades of 12-18%! The Mulholland Double Century in Agoura Hills, CA features several steep climbs, including Balcom Canyon...1/3 mile with grades as steep as 25%! The Terrible Two in Santa Rosa, CA features Skaggs Springs Rd, containing steep pitches and temperatures as high as 120 degrees! The "Crippler" never features climbs that are as steep as those found along the California coast, but the final 42 miles of this event are equally as cruel, especially at the end a double century! From Deckers, riders (who will already have over 13,000 feet of climbing in their crippled legs) will be facing an additional 4,500 feet of steep climbing in a little over 40 miles! The first climb out of Deckers will (once again) hit riders like a "ton of bricks!" This climb is long and steep...over four miles long and constant grades of 8%. Additionally, with the heat of the afternoon sun, road temperatures have the potential to reach 100 degrees during this climb! And shortly after cresting the top of this nearly 1,700 foot climb, the road will pitch up again for another mile or so. Riders will then catch a well-deserved reprieve as the road makes a steep plunge toward the community of Buffalo Creek. Riders will then turn east onto the beautiful Southwest Platte River Rd. This five-mile stretch of pavement, which lies adjacent to the north fork of the South Platte River, is simply beautiful! Adorned with amazing rock formations and plush vegetation, it is one of the best kept secrets along the Denver Front Range! After cruising through the beautiful Foxton Canyon, riders will turn north onto Foxton Rd for six miles, which will continue to gradually ascend through plush mountain forests, passing the Reynolds Park along the way. Participants will then turn east onto Running Deer Rd, where the pavement will once again pitch up. The series of roads approaching Pleasant Park from the south, in fact, reaches grades as steep as 8-12 percent...a cruel finish to a crippling day of climbing! Please note that this final series of roads is very rough with lots of gravel and potholes. Please ride carefully! Finally, riders will reach the serene foothills community of Pleasant Park to the west of Littleton. At this point in time, riders will be "home free" as they make the final exhilarating, twisty 3,000 foot descent down High Grade Rd and Deer Creek Canyon back toward Littleton. With one final short climb past the beautiful South Valley Park, weary riders will make the final descent back to Ken Caryl.

Riders will embrace the twisty descent down High Grade Rd as they make their final descent down Deer Creek Canyon to the final checkpoint in Littleton. 

Congratulations on completing the "Crippler!"