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!!!