Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RMCC's Ryan Franz Rides Amongst the Hoodoos

On August 24th and 25th, RMCCer Ryan Franz participated in Planet Ultra's Hoodoo 500 in St. George, UT. The Hoodoo 500 is one of only a handful of 500+ mile ultracycling races contested in the U.S. each year. Ryan participated in the Voyager category of the race. As a voyager, racers are entirely support or follow vehicles. Voyagers are allowed four drop bags that may be accessed at check points along the course, but voyagers must otherwise be entirely self-sufficient and provide for their own provisions along the way. Below is Ryan's most-excellent account of his race amongst the hoodoos of southwestern Utah..... 

The Hoodoo 500 course doesn't look that formidable on a map, but it's long...519 miles, longer than the distance from Denver to the junction of I-70 and I-15 in western Utah (which is 509 miles)! The route certainly isn't flat either, featuring 30,000 feet of climbing!

Every year I choose a big event to motivate me for the season, an “exclamation point” to look forward to. This year I chose the Hoodoo 500. I had heard the course was very scenic, with lots of great climbing, and the unsupported “voyager” division is very appealing—just me and the great desert, dueling it out! I’ve certainly enjoyed supported ultra racing in the past, and my wife is a great crew chief, but with an 8-month-old now it is much harder to arrange. Planet Ultra provides drop bags for voyagers at four locations, which seemed plenty: during Paris-Brest-Paris last year I only had access to drop bags at two locations over 767 miles.

After months of training, endless hours of bike preparation, and meticulous equipment and drop bag planning, it felt good to wait at the start early Friday morning. A much cooler weather pattern was in place than in 2011, so the temperatures were pleasant. The seven of us (voyagers started at 5am, separately from other divisions) rode off into yet-unknown adventures. For a while we rode together and chatted; my old friend and mentor, Kevin Walsh, broke away from work at the last minute to make the ride, so I enjoyed catching up with him.

Starting lineup, from left: Mark Lowe, Ryan Franz, Rick Ashabranner,  Rick Jacobson,  Kevin Walsh, Andi Ramer, Ton van Daelen
Shortly before Hurricane the group spread out rapidly, everyone riding at their own pace. I watched Mark Lowe vanish into the distance with his standard fast starting pace. We had been warned about a troublesome new rumblestrip installation between Hurricane and Colorado City, but it turned out to be only a minor nuisance and traffic was on the lighter side. Rick Ashabranner passed me at a good clip on his unique TitanFlex bike, looking very efficient on the flats.

I was surprised to see Rick at the first drop bag location, Kanab, looking frustrated. Our drop bags weren’t there. Mark had obviously continued on; Rick spoke to race HQ on the phone and they said they would do their best to get the drop bags to us down the road. This was concerning, as I had started with minimal water and food to reach Kanab. I still had a bit of water and some calories, so I continued on, noting that the next gas station was only 35 miles ahead.

As I left Kanab, I marveled at the fantastic scenery. Recent monsoon activity had brought the desert alive, producing nearly neon green foliage to contrast the stunning reds and browns of the sandstone.

Just north of Kanab, UT, views toward the east of Zion National Park. Rick Ashabranner can be seen ahead. 

At the next gas station I filled water, hopeful that I would get my drop bag soon for calories. Sure enough, 100 yards after leaving the station, a race official pulled up. “I’ve got your bags here! What’s your name?” He looked in the car a bit… “Oh, I don’t have your bag, there was some mix-up.” He indicated my first drop bag would be with my second drop bag in Escalante, over 100 miles away! Exasperated, I continued on, noting that the next mini mart was 20 miles away. Unfortunately I missed that one, as mileages were a bit off and I didn’t want to backtrack—things were getting dire. I started rationing. I was down to one bar with 10 miles to the next gas station when Deb Bowling (from Planet Ultra) finally brought my bag—thank goodness! This was at the start of Red Canyon, an incredibly scenic canyon with a very nice bike path but lots of climbing. I immediately inhaled four gels and several bars, I would have bonked hard if Deb hadn’t saved me!

Starting up Red Canyon, just after a timely resupply from my delayed drop bag.

Red Canyon views

Red Canyon bike path
After Red Canyon topped out at 7800’, a thrilling descent to Tropic at 6000’ provided stunning views of Bryce Canyon. Clouds looked ominous, but out of sheer luck I rode through a narrow gap and stayed dry. I learned later that Mark Lowe had gotten quite wet there an hour before me. Next was a scenic climb back to 7600’, with steep grades at the top; I glimpsed Rick at the top, and passed him on the descent to Escalante as he stopped to don a rain jacket. I think he regretted his choice, as it only sprinkled briefly. Regardless, he arrived minutes behind me at the time station in Escalante, and left before me. As I was rearranging my gear in the hotel room, unbeknownst to me, solo (supported) racer Adam Bickett flew by at his record-setting pace.

Stunning views of the canyons to the east of Escalante

There is no better cycling than the section from Escalante to Loa. Every cyclist should ride this once in their life! The late afternoon late really brought out the rainbow of colors permeating the canyons before the town of Boulder. At one point the road followed a narrow spine of rock with lonely yet picturesque canyons to either side. There were also surprisingly steep grades—I was pretty jazzed on the scenery, but as I passed the double century mark I began to feel the miles I had ridden.

From the Escalante River crossing at 5300’, Boulder Mountain presents a big challenge. Over the next 25 miles one must climb to 9600’. Luckily, the climb is very scenic and provides constantly changing surroundings as sandstone desert transitions to alpine forest. A large storm only hours before left evidence in the form of large piles of hail, wet roads, and swirling mists. Halfway up the climb I switched on my lights and enjoyed the spooky ambiance. Several deer froze in my light, advising me to be careful when I got to the descent on the other side! The feeling at this point was very remote: I had not seen any supported riders pass yet, Mark Lowe was an hour ahead, and Rick had fallen back around Boulder. Twilight gave way to darkness and a starry sky, though a half moon enhanced shadows in the misty forest. I reached the summit feeling good, and piled on warm layers in anticipation of a chilly descent.

Amazing views of the canyons of Capital Reef National Park from the top of Boulder Mountain
after 4,500 feet steep climbing!

For some reason I didn’t feel comfortable with my normal “bombing” speed while descending Boulder Mountain. I rode conservatively, and was soon passed by the winning four-man team Veloce Santiago. Around that time, very near the halfway point, I really started to feel the miles and the late hour. The nineteen miles from the bottom of the descent (6700’) to Loa (7000’) climbed gently and felt like forever…finally I reached Loa and my third drop bag at 12:30am.

A thermos of warm soup and a change of clothes partially revived me. I headed out into the night, anticipating the battle with the “witching hour” I’ve come to expect. Unbeknownst to me I would fight another battle due to an oversight in Loa—more on that later! I climbed a seemingly endless road into the stars, the only scenery the roadside reflectors shining brightly in my light. My world shrank to a small bubble which my light could illuminate, though the wide desert sky made me feel at the same time like a vulnerable speck under an ambivalent cosmos. Temperatures sank to 45 degrees as the desert gave up its moisture and heat to a ravenous sky. I reached the high point at 8400’ and enjoyed a descent to the small town of Koosharem.

Shortly after Koosharem I realized my camelbak was becoming low and went to reach for a water bottle for the first time since Loa. With a sinking feeling I realized that I had left my bottles in Loa. At this point a couple of teams were nearby, and I considered asking them for water—but as I didn’t want the corresponding time penalty, I decided to stick it out and search for water along the way. Over the next 40 miles I tried to go light on the water and stopped several times to search for a water spigot in spooky, dilapidated towns. I hoped that someone wouldn’t notice me and take issue with a lycra-clad oddball searching around a boarded-up building at 3am!

Finally in Circleville I found a spigot hidden in the back of a run-down cafĂ©. Though the search for water was stressful, the urgency of the situation had eased the normal fight to stay awake. As I left Circleville, however, the fight came back and I entered the doldrums…riding slowly, senses dulled, heavy eyelids. The 30 miles from Circleville to Panguitch average a 0.5% grade—not enough to provide good resistance to push against, but enough to make time slow down. A noticeable headwind made the miles go even slower. I reached Panguitch at 6:45am as the sun began to light the landscape. The 90 miles from Loa to Panguitch had taken me nearly six hours, despite having the least elevation gain of any stage!

As I sleepwalked into the hotel room in Panguitch, I was very surprised to see Mark Lowe! He had just finished a two hour nap—boy did that sound nice! Mark soon departed, and I moved with molasses-like slowness to change clothes and refresh supplies for the final stage. I was trying to get going quickly, but still spent an hour in Panguitch.

The Hoodoo 500 course is anything but flat, featuring 30,000 feet of climbing!

Past Panguitch, the Cedar Breaks climb dominates the course profile and demands attention. I noticed this as I resumed riding and glanced at my routesheet, but the magnitude of the climb, with 26 hours of riding behind me, only became clear as I toiled slowly upwards. The scenery was great, and the climb would be fantastic with fresh legs, but every cell in my body wanted to lie down in each lush green meadow I passed.

Scenic views of Lake Panguitch during the climb up Cedars Break National Monument

Amazing canyon walls to the west of Cedars Break National Monument

Finally I crested 10,600’ and enjoyed the scenic rollers at the top. Next came 20 miles of falling out of heaven into Cedar City. There was a surprising amount of traffic, but the descent was still a blast. Temperatures climbed from 59 to 95 degrees in a matter of minutes.

I grabbed a sandwich in Cedar City, and noticed the headline about Lance Armstrong deciding not to fight the doping charges. Sufficiently doped with a chicken sandwich, I continued on. The last bit is a big of a (long) blur. I remember hot temperatures, driving hail, lightning, headwinds, a poor road with heavy traffic climbing up out of the town of Enterprise…my pace was slower than I wanted but pain and fatigue prevented me from going faster.

Views of the lower sections of the stunning Snow Canyon in St. George, UT
Finally I was at the top of Snow Canyon. I called race HQ to tell them I was coming home and enjoyed the final bit of desert scenery. I was surprised how long it took to get from the bottom of Snow Canyon to the finish; headwinds and traffic lights seemed to conspire against me. But, with time I crested the final hump and coasted down to the finish line. Another one for the books!

Looking back at the race, it went quite well. My bike worked flawlessly and I was generally happy with my setup. My SON generator hub, powering my taillight, headlight, and Garmin Edge 500, meant I didn’t have to worry about batteries. Turn-by-turn directions from my Edge meant I never had to wonder if I was off-route, and I could keep the backlight on at night to ensure I never missed a cue. One thing I would do differently is turning over my stem—I’ve done that in past ultra races and it increased comfort greatly. I thought I could get away with it low in this race for less drag, but in reality I spent very little time on the aerobars after 250 miles because it was very uncomfortable.

In relation to other races I’ve done in the past, Hoodoo is a much harder course than the Furnace Creek 508. Riding unsupported added more challenge than I expected—I had to carry a lot more on the bike, spent significant time at drop bags rearranging things, and lost momentum by being off the bike so much. I ended up spending a total of 3.5 hours off the bike, and each time I had to resume riding after a stop it took time to regain a rhythm and get comfortable. By the same token, I felt way better after the race than after Paris-Brest-Paris—that second night really adds a new dimension in endurance.

To summarize, I’d describe it as the perfect vacation: good adventure, gorgeous scenery, quite a bit of cycling, and a feeling of accomplishment. I recommend it if that’s your idea of a good time!

Images of a four-man team descending Snow Canyon

Friday, August 17, 2012

2012 Colorado Triple Crown Finishers

Congratulations to following riders who have successfully completed the 2012 Colorado Triple Crown. The class of 2012 has 16 riders who completed three of four events of the Colorado Triple Crown, our largest finishing class ever! Congratulations to all of you for demonstrating the mental and physical tenacity to complete Colorado's most difficult road cycling series! You have earned the honors to be called Colorado Triple Crown Finishers!!
  1. Diane Benoit, Morrison, CO* ***
  2. Ryan Franz, Boulder, CO*
  3. Michael Henderson, Dolores, CO
  4. Josh Horwood, Loveland, CO*
  5. Craig Howell, Littleton, CO*
  6. Jason Kaminski, Longmont, CO*
  7. Todd LeBlanc, Lakewood, CO*
  8. Mark Lowe, Arvada, CO
  9. Marc Moons, Petaluma, CA* **
  10. Mel Morris, Amarillo, TX* **
  11. Tom Miller, Denver, CO
  12. Eric Nelsen, Evergreen, CO*
  13. Tim O'Leary, Wheat Ridge, CO*
  14. Steve Rudolph, Westminster, CO*
  15. Kelly Shannon, Denver, CO*
  16. Paul Spencer, Denver, CO*

*First-time Colorado Triple Crown finisher
**First riders from out-of-state to finish the Colorado Triple Crown
***Third woman to finish the Colorado Triple Crown 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cripple Creek Recap: Crippled!

Scenic views of Cripple Creek, CO from CO 67 to the northeast of town. Unfortunately, participants of this year's event never got a chance to appreciate these views. A large sinkhole formed over an abandoned mining shaft on CO 67 just to the northeast of Cripple Creek during the morning of the event, closing the road and threatening to "cripple" the Crippler!

The inaugural RMCC Cripple Creek Crippler, the final stage of the 2012 Colorado Triple Crown, is in the books! And what an epic adventure it was!!

The Cripple Creek Crippler, the RMCC's newest double century challenge, is one of the nation's toughest double century events, rivaling California's Devil Mountain Double and the Alta Alpina Eight Pass Challenge for top honors. This event is not for the feint-of-heart (or the weak-kneed!). Preliminary estimates reveal the "Crippler" course probably has over 18,500 feet of climbing, nearly 1,000 feet more than original estimates. The "Crippler" has significantly more vertical gain than even the Colorado Death Ride (16,000 feet) or the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop (15,000 feet). And to top things off, the "Crippler" has one of the most difficult beginnings and endings to any double century in the nation.  By the time riders reached the first checkpoint in Conifer (after climbing Deer Creek Canyon, High Drive, and Brook Forest/Shadow Mountain), participants had already climbed 4,600 feet in under 32 miles! The final 42 miles of the "Crippler," featuring four relentless miles of 8% grades up the sun-scorched Deckers Rd and the equally long (but beautiful) climb up Foxton Canyon, are equally debilitating, tacking on an additional 4,400 feet of merciless climbing. And many riders were indeed demoralized by the seven-mile climb from the Evergreen Station market toward Cripple Creek, featuring relentless 8-12 percent grades! By the time participants had reached Cripple Creek 116 miles into the event, in fact, they already had 13,000 feet of climbing (almost the same amount of vertical gain in the entire 180-mile Joe Lookingbill Denver-to-Aspen Classic!) in their weary legs. RMCC president, Charlie Henderson commented, "I've lived in Colorado for many years and this was the first time I've been on some of these roads! These climbs are long and steep! And they keep coming at you!!" Every participant would agree with Charlie's statement.

Marc Moons of Petaluma, CA at the conclusion of the Cripple Creek Crippler. Congratulations on successfully completing the Colorado Triple Crown, Marc! (Now you can go to Disneyland!) 
Mark Lowe at the conclusion of the "Crippler." Mark, along with RMCC president Charlie Henderson, were the masterminds of the hilly "Crippler" course. "What the he-l were we thinking?!?" Mark stated afterward.

After a very early 4 am start, the field of 13 participants spread out very quickly. A small group, including the Colorado natives Eric Nelsen and Mark Lowe, and Marc Moons of Petaluma, CA, set a brisk pace up the climbs through the Evergreen backroads to Conifer and Deckers. As the trio pulled out of Deckers, Mark went on the "offensive," picking up the pace during the 23 mile, 2,500 foot ascent from Deckers to Woodland Park. Marc, who had fallen a bit behind with his nutrition and was experiencing some problems with recurrent knee pain, backed off the pace a bit, leaving Mark and Eric out front. Mark and Eric eventually cleared the checkpoint in Divide and (after an erroneous wrong-turn shortly after cresting Ute Pass) made their way onto the scenic Twin Rocks Rd in Teller County, en route to Cripple Creek. After grinding up the relentless, steep ascent to Cripple Creek, both riders were stunned to discover that CO 67 had been closed to the northeast of Cripple Creek because of a large sink hole that had opened up in the middle of the highway shortly after the start of the event. This unexpected road closure threatened to cripple the "Crippler" and shut down the event. Charlie Henderson, who was providing event support at the Cripple Creek, however, made a game-day decision to turn the event around in Cripple Creek, running an out-and-back course from Cripple Creek back to Ken Caryl, thus salvaging the event.

Ryan Franz rode a tactical event to finish strongly at the "Crippler," although the ride left him too debilitated to actually hoist his bike over his head! Congratulations on completing all four Triple Crown events!
No matter how challenging the event, Steve Rudolph always manages a smile at the end! Congratulations Steve!

Indeed, the Cripple Creek sink hole sank the moral of many participants, forcing many riders to change their strategies for the event. In reality, the out-and-back course only added two miles in distance to the route, but the climb back up Teller County Rd 1 and Twin Rocks Rd added over 1,000 feet of additional climbing to an already tough day on the bike! Additionally, riders lost the opportunity to experience the exhilarating descent (along with the spectacular views of Pikes Peak) from the course's high point northeast of Cripple Creek back to Divide. Mark Lowe commented afterward about the detour, "Sometimes things happen that are completely out of our control. The closure of CO 67 by Cripple Creek meant a complete change in strategies for many of us...from finishing quickly to finishing safely! We all had to do our best to make the most of a difficult situation!"

Stunned by the closure of CO 67 to northeast of Cripple Creek,  Eric struggled a bit with his nutrition afterward, but regained his composure to finish strongly! Congratulations on completing the Triple Crown!

Paul Spencer completes the Cripple Creek Crippler and the Colorado Triple Crown! Congratulations Paul! (Yes...I still think you are mad!! :)

In spite of the CO 67 road closure, this year's participants did catch a much-appreciated break with the weather. Riders encountered comfortable, warm--but not brutally hot--temperatures for the duration of the event, along with a spattering of a few rain showers from Cripple Creek back to Ken Caryl, which added some cooling relief to many riders.  Many participants, however, did encounter some gusty head winds as they made the steep series of climbs up Deckers Rd and Foxton Canyon to conclude the event.

With the completion of the "Crippler," Tom Miller (who was ready to choke the designer of the "Crippler" course) becomes a two-time Colorado Triple Crown Finisher. Congratulation Tom! 
RMCC distance master Tom Knoblauch at the conclusion of the Crippler. Amazingly, Tom rode 36 miles from his home in Aurora prior to the start of the event and 36 miles home after the finish for a grand total of 282 miles for the day! (And that, my friends, is how you learn to ride a 1,200 km brevet quickly!). Congratulations Tom!

Colorado Triple Crown veteran, Dick Wiss, at the conclusion of the Cripple Creek Crippler. Nice Ride, Dick! (Our doubles can be as tough as those in sunny California!)

At the conclusion of the event, 12 of 13 ride starters successfully completed this year's Cripple Creek Crippler. By the time riders had completed the out-and-back course from Cripple Creek, total climbing estimates were just under 20,000 feet of vertical gain in 210 miles...not a bad day's work!! Congratulations to all of the participants who completed the RMCC's newest double century and Colorado's toughest double century event!!

Results of this year's Crippler Creek Crippler will be posted shortly on the RMCC website.

Albuquerque, NM native Scott Griffith after completing the Crippler (in plenty of time)! Congratulations Scott!

Lisa Purul after finishing the "Crippler." Lisa commented, "that was much harder than I thought is was going to be!" Congratulations Lisa!

Special thanks to the following individuals who graciously gave up their Saturday to provide event support for the "Crippler." The event was much more enjoyable for everyone because of all of your help! Thanks for giving up your day to make the event run smoothly!

  1. Charlie Henderson
  2. Hunter Johnson
  3. Penny Nelson 
A beautiful sunset over Deer Creek Canyon at the end of the Cripple Creek Crippler. With the conclusion of the "Crippler," the sun sets on the 2012 Colorado Triple Crown.

With the completion of the "Crippler," the following individuals have successfully completed the Colorado Triple Crown for 2012. Congratulations to all of you!!

  1. Diane Benoit, Morrison, CO* **
  2. Tom Miller, Denver, CO
  3. Marc Moons, Petaluma, CA*
  4. Eric Nelsen, Evergreen, CO*
  5. Paul Spencer, Denver, CO*
*First time Colorado Triple Crown Finisher
**Diane is only the third woman in RMCC history to complete the Colorado Triple Crown. (Diane has already informed us that she plans to return next year to become the only woman in club history to finish the Triple Crown twice! :) 

On a final note, the RMCC does not have special category for riders who successfully completed all four Colorado Triple Crown events, but we do indeed have three riders who are Colorado Triple Crown "Grand Slam" finishers for 2012. Congratulations to each of you!
  1. Ryan Franz, Boulder, CO
  2. Mark Lowe, Arvada, CO
  3. Steve Rudolph, Westminster, CO

The Cathedral Spires, photographed from the beautiful Foxton Canyon earlier in the year.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Inaugural Cripple Creek Crippler: Are You Ready to Be Humbled?

Views of the spectacular Pikes Peak from near Woodland Park, CO

Brief description:  new Colorado Triple Crown event for 2012, the Cripple Creek Crippler is one last opportunity for RMCC riders to earn Colorado Triple Crown credit. However, it ain’t gonna be easy! 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 to the rustic mining community of Cripple Creek to the southwest of Colorado Springs, capturing spectacular views of Pikes Peak and the Pike National Forest along the way. Riders will then make the long journey home, passing through Woodland Park, Deckers and Pleasant Park in the reverse direction. Better get out your granny gear! This one’s gonna hurt!

The RMCC has been using various forms of the "Crippler" route since its inception in the early 1990s. Most recently, a variant of this route was resurrected by RMCC member Vernon Smith in 2011 as a (brutally hard) 300 km brevet that starts in Colorado Springs. The Cripple Creek Crippler returns to our Ken Caryl start location in west Littleton, CO. Unlike the other three events of the Colorado Triple Crown, the "Crippler" never gets insanely high in elevation. The highest elevation that the course achieves, in fact, is a little over 10,200 feet (a few miles to the northeast of Cripple Creek). What this route lacks in elevation, however, it makes up in sheer volume of climbing (as well as the potential for very hot temperatures). The total vertical gain of this course is over 17,500 feet (and maybe more than that)! Long, steep climbs of 8-12% will be the norm for the day. Here's a sneak-peak of the route: Cripple Creek Crippler

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!

General Information:

1) Ride Date: Saturday, August 11, 2012

2) Start and Finish Location: Littleton, CO at the Ken Caryl RTD park-and-ride on the NE corner of Shaffer Parkway and Ken Caryl Avenue, 1/4 mile east of interstate C-470.

3) Registration: RMCC membership, prequalification, and preregistration are required to participate in this event. This event has a $30 registration fee. We still have openings for this ride. Preregistration will close on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm. For questions, please e-mail Mark Lowe:

4) Ride start/check-in: Rider check-in at 3:30 am. Ride start at 4:00 am. Please be ready for a pre-ride briefing at 3:45 amLights and reflective gear are required!

5) Official support vehicles: We will have two support vehicles to support this event, which will be driven by Charlie Henderson (Charlie's cell phone: 720-480-9714) and Hunter Johnson (Hunter's Cell Phone: 303-242-6217). Participants are allowed to place a well-marked (BIG letters, easy to read) personal gear bag in both support vehicles. Gear bags can be stocked with extra nutritional supplies and clothing that participants might need to successfully complete the ride. Riders will be able to access their gear bags at checkpoints along the course (see below). 

6) Personal support vehicles: Personal support vehicles are allowed (and encouraged)! However, participants riding with personal support must register their support vehicle with Charlie prior to the start of the ride (name of driver, vehicle make/model, license number, cell number). Failure to preregister your personal support vehicle will result in disqualification! Participants using personal support vehicles may only receive support at designated check points and support points. 

7) Checkpoints and time limits: Please keep in mind that this is a timed bike ride, but not a race. Friendly competition is encouraged, but the primary goal for every rider is to finish safely! Participants have 18 hours to complete this ride to earn an official finishing time and receive Colorado Triple Crown credit. Riders can only begin riding at the official start time and must reach all checkpoints to receive an official finishing time. Like the other events of the Colorado Triple Crown, we will be using event passports to record rider times for the Cripple Creek Crippler. Riders may pick up their event passports at rider check-in, prior to the start of the ride. All riders must have their event passports validated by RMCC event staff at the following official checkpoints listed below. If RMCC event staff is not present at these checkpoints, riders should record their own times. Riders must have their event passports validated by RMCC event staff at the finish.  
  1. Conifer, CO: NW Corner of Co R.73 and Shadow Mountain Drive
  2. Deckers, CO: Store at Junction of Co Rd 126 (Deckers Road) and CO 67
  3. Divide, CO: Junction of US 24 and N. Co Rd 5/CO 67
  4. Divide, CO: Junction of US 24 and CO 67/N. Co Rd 5 (Returning from Cripple Creek)
  5. Deckers, CO: Store at Junction of CO 126 (Deckers Road) and CO 67
  6. Finish: Littleton, CO: Ken Caryl RTD Park-n-Ride (closing time: 9:00 pm)

8) Additonal Support Points: RMCC will also be providing water support in Cripple Creek, CO on Teller Co Rd 1, just after reaching the western city limits of Cripple Creek. Riders with personal support vehicles may receive support at the above checkpoint locations AND at the following locations: 
  1. Conifer: Shell gas at intersection of Co Rd 73 and US 285
  2. Woodland Park: Conoco Gas at Junction of CO 67 and US 24 (NW corner)
  3. Evergreen Station: Mile 108 along Teller Co Rd 1, before making the final series of steep climbs to Cripple Creek
  4. Cripple CreekAce Hardware and Shamrock Gas on Teller Co Rd 1 (entering town)
  5. Buffalo Creek: Junction of Co Rd 126 (Deckers Road) and SW Platte River Rd 
  6. Foxton: Small park at the junction of SW Platter River Rd and Foxton Rd
  7. Pleasant Park: Pleasant Park Grange
9) Abandonment: If you need to abandon the ride for any reason, please call Charlie Henderson at 720-480-9714 as soon as possible to let him know! We don't want to spend all night worrying about where you are! Please note that we do not sweep the course! Special notes about abandonment: If you are having a bad day on the bike and need to abandon, it is strongly suggested that you abandon in Buffalo Creek at the turnoff for SW Platte River Road. Riders who abandon after this location will face a much more difficult return route, especially if they make it all the way to Deckers.

10) Emergencies: If you have an accident or injury that requires emergent attention, please call 911. Please call Charlie ASAP to let him know!

11) Event Rules: Please review the event rules before the ride on Saturday:

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!

1) 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 Road, High 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)!

2) 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. This summer's devastating 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. 

3) 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.

4) 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. 

5) 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
6) 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 Cripple Creek Crippler! 

Participants of the Cripple Creek Crippler may need one of these at the conclusion of this ride!!!