Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Boulder Fearsome Five Recap

Spectacular vistas from near the top of Sunshine Canyon. Clouds and chilly temperatures
were the norm for the 2013 Boulder Fearsome Five.

The 2013 Boulder Fearsome Five is in the books! And what an EPIC day on the bike it was!! The Boulder Fearsome Five, the first event of the 2013 RMCC Challenge Series, is (without a doubt!) the nation's most difficult century ride! "Los Cinco Diablos" features Boulder County's most devilishly steep climbs, including James Canyon (a.k.a. the SuperJames), Sunshine Canyon-Fourmile Canyon loop, Sugarloaf Road, the uber-steep Magnolia Road, and Flagstaff Road...over 15,000+ feet of climbing in 100 miles (>150+ feet of climbing/mile). In fact, at the completion of the ride, most finisher's Garmin computers registered over 16,000 feet of climbing!!

RMCC newcomer (and climbing extraordinaire!), Chris Case, effortlessly climbs the steepest dirt sections of Sunshine Canyon. Chris smoked this extremely challenging course, posting the only sub-eight hour finishing time for the day!

This year's event also featured a few additional "twists" to further add to the challenge. First, riders had to complete the five major climbs of the course in consecutive order from north-to-south to receive credit for completing the ride. Last year's route, which completed the five major climbs from south-to-north, (starting with Flagstaff Mountain), was "top heavy" in climbing, featuring over 10,000 feet of climbing in the first 50 miles. The second half of last year's route was much more manageable for most riders (who didn't get caught in the freak snowstorm on top of James Canyon), climbing "only" 5,000 feet in 50 miles. This year's route definitely balanced the climbing out a bit more, climbing slightly over 8,000 feet in the first 50 miles and 7,000 feet in the second half of the ride. However, this meant that riders had to tackle the formidable Magnolia Road (Boulder County's steepest sustained paved road, avg. grade 9.1%) and Flagstaff Road, with it's uber-steep final mile, at the very end of the ride. This clearly added to the misery of many riders who were already experiencing problems with cramping legs! Also adding to the challenge was the addition of Bow Mountain Road, a 1.5 mile gravel climb with grades as steep as 16% that snakes its way into the Linden neighborhood to the northwest of Boulder!

This RMCC Challenge Series event has a unique format as results are posted based on number of climbs completed...not finishing time. However, riders can compete to earn the distinction of posting the fastest time on the course. This year's honors belong to RMCC newcomer, Chris Case, who completed this incredibly challenging course in 7 hours, 47 minutes. RMCC club veteran and endurance specialist, Ryan Franz, who was coming off a successful winter of rando ski racing, wasn't far behind, finishing in 8 hours, 7 minutes! Congratulations to both of you for a stellar ride!!

As with last year's event, the Front Range spring weather definitely added to the challenge of this year's ride! Sunny skies in the morning gave way to low-level clouds, chilly temperatures, and even some light snow showers at the highest elevations of Sugarloaf Road in the afternoon. The mild 60 degree temperatures that had been forecast the previous day never materialized as an inversion layer kept temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid-40s for most of the day. However, the recent April snowstorms made the gravel sections on Sunshine Canyon and Fourmile Canyon extremely easy to navigate as the roads were very well-packed! In fact, most riders found the sandy sections of Linden Road and Magnolia Road much more difficult to navigate than even the gravel roads themselves.

Congratulations to all of the riders for attempting this incredibly challenging course! And special kudos to the 15 riders who conquered "Los Cinco Diablos!" 

Results (based on number of climbs completed) will be posted on the RMCC webpage in the next few days. Please note that we do our best to report results as accurately as possible. However, a number of riders did not accurately complete (or even sign) their cue cards...

Special thanks to Ansel Franz, Grace Franz, Josh Horwood, and Mark Lowe for providing event support for this year's ride!! (Ansel does perhaps the best elephant imitation that I've ever seen a one-year-old do before BTW!) 

Like "blazing saddles," RMCCers ride west though Jamestown toward the SuperJames, the first major climb of the day.
Riders were  greeted with temperatures in the upper 30s at the top of the climb,
making for an extremely blustery descent!

Event Stats:
  1. 100 miles, including 5 major climbs, 3 smaller climbs, and 9 miles of steep dirt roads...for a grand total of approximately 15,500 feet of climbing!
  2. 35 ride starters (a new record for this event!)
  3. 3 women (Yes...woman can participate in this event too! Alas, no female finishers for 2013...)
  4. 7 no-shows (Boo on you!) 
  5. 15 riders completed the entire course (43% completion rate)
  6. Fastest finishing time: Chris Case, 7 hours, 47 minutes
  7. Average time to complete the entire course: 9 hours, 32 minutes
  8. 2 minor crashes that I'm aware of...I hope you guys are healing well!!
  9. Gallons of water consumed: 20
  10. Gatorades consumed: 32
  11. Cokes consumed: 24
  12. Memories to last a lifetime: countless!!

Okay...someone in Gold Hill has a sense of humor!

What the riders were saying about this year's event:
"This year's route was much harder than last year's route! - Steve Rudolph (Good...that was the intention!)

"That was even harder than Denver-to-Aspen!! - Eric Nelsen, first time BF5 participant (If this doesn't get you ready for the Colorado Triple Crown, nothing will!!)

"-uck Koppenburg! This ride was much better than that race!!" - Unknown rider

"Great course! Extremely beautiful!" - Jill Hueckman

"Thanks for putting on a great ride. I had a blast, flat tire withstanding!" - Nick Legan

"This year with Magnolia and Flagstaff at the end, that was downright brutal! I didn't realize my bike could go that slow!" - Chuck Matthys, BF5 veteran

"Have you thought about including Lickskillet Road or Deer Trail Road in the course?? - Josh Horwood (Josh...never give a psychopath ideas...you may live to regret those thoughts! :)

"You are evil!" - Chris Case, referring to the placement of Magnolia Rd. and Flagstaff Rd. at the end of the ride. (I take that as a complement BTW!) 

RMCC veteran, Ryan Franz, pulls into the check point near the top of Sunshine Canyon in hot pursuit of Chris Case...

Brendan Billingsley arrives at the Sunshine Canyon checkpoint. 

Looking daper in his Colorado Triple Crown kit, Craig Howell arrives at the top of Sunshine Canyon.

Riders regroup after a quick break near the top of Sunshine Canyon.

There were not a lot of smiling faces with this group of riders! These riders were exhausted
after completing over 8,000 feet of climbing in less than 50 miles!

RMCC veteran Steve Rudolph consoles Kelly Shannon at the end of the ride. Kelly was disappointed that he "called it a day" after completing the Sugarloaf climb. Chilly temperatures on top of Sugarloaf got the best of him! Still...80 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing...not a bad day's work!