Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Colorado Death Ride Recap

Mark Lowe, Eric Nelsen, and Stephen Strayer speed toward the base of Red Mountain Pass as dawn breaks
 during the 2015 Colorado Death Ride. (Photo by Walter Zitz)
On Saturday, June 27, 2015,  RMCCers made the long journey to the southwest part of the state to face the Colorado Death Ride. The Death Ride is the most spectacular single-day event on the RMCC calendar and arguably the most spectacular double century course in the world. Starting and ending in Durango, CO, the Death Ride course navigates the spectacular 225-mile San Jan Skyway, including four high altitude passes above 10,000 feet (Coal Bank Pass, Molas Pass, Red Mountain Pass, and Lizard Head Pass), as well as the beautiful, highly photographed Dallas Divide, which sits just below 10,000 feet. The route also includes the surreal, death-defying descent down the notorious Red Mountain Pass, one of Colorado's most incredible mountain descents! This year's event had rather balmy temperatures, except for the expected chilly plunge into Silverton from Molas Pass before the break of dawn. Several riders also encountered some bone-chilling thunderstorms as they made the final descent from Hesperus Hill into Durango at the end of the day. This year's event had a remarkable 100% finishing rate! Congratulations to all of this year's Colorado Death Riders!

The beautiful Mt. Wilson, near Telluride, CO (Photo by Penny Nelsen)
2015 Colorado Death Ride Event Summary: 


  • 225 miles, approximately 17,000 feet (est.) of climbing
  • 7 categorized climbs:
    • Coal Bank Pass (10,640 feet): HC (Hermosa to Coal Bank Summit)
    • Molas Pass (10,910 feet): Category 3
    • Red Mountain Pass (11,018 feet): Category 2 (from Silverton)
    • Dallas Divide (8,983 feet): Category 2 (from Ridgway)
    • Lizard Head Pass (10,222 feet): HC  (from Placerville)
    • Marcos Hill (Category 3)
    • Hesperus Hill (Category 4) 
  • 23 pre-registrered riders
  • 22 ride starters, 1 early withdrawal. Of the riders who started, 21 were men, 1 woman
  • 22 official finishers (100% finishing rate...WOW!), successfully completing this challenging high altitude course in under 19 hours (>11.8 m.p.h.)
  • Mark Lowe and Walter Zitz recorded the fastest men's time, completimg the Death Ride course in 12 hours, 35 minutes (total elapsed time) (avg. speed 17.9 m.p.h.)
  • Corinne Warren was our lone female competitor, completing the Death Ride in 18 hours, 17 minutes (avg. speed 12.3 m.p.h.). Corinne's moto for the day: "I'd rather be D.F.L. than D.N.S.!" Great ride, Corinne! 
The spectacular San Juans at dawn (photo by Penny Nelsen)
Special thanks to this year's volunteers!!! We cannot run these events in their current format without your assistance! Thank you to each of you!!!
  • RMCC president, Charlie Henderson
  • Penny Nelsen
  • Kelly Shannon
Also, thanks to Corinne Warren for her culinary efforts to provide cookies and muffins for this year's event!!

The beautiful Sneffels Range as viewed from the Dallas Divide (Photo by Tim Schaefer)
Brief Results:
Name Age Hometown Total Time
Lowe, Mark 41 Arvada, CO 12:35
Zitz, Walter 29 Englewood, CO 12:35
Nelsen, Eric 42 Evergreen, CO 12:54
Strayer, Stephen 37 Noblesville, IN 13:46
Rudolph, Steve 55 Westminster, CO 13:51
Horwood, Josh 35 Loveland, CO 14:10
Miller, Tom 45 Denver, CO 14:10
Schaefer, Tim 49 Denver, CO 14:49
Smith, Vernon 57 Denver, CO 14:53
Schroer, Steve 46 Littleton, CO 15;07
Kaminski, Jason 45 Longmont, CO 15:13
Henderson, Michael 49 Dolores, CO 15:29
Stokes, Colin 49 Mission Viejo, CA 15:29
Sendor, Jon 58 Denver, CO 16:20
Rosenthal, Harris 53 Denver, CO 16:55
Turner, Jason 40 Monument, CO 17:09
Lapkass, Andy 57 Breckenridge, CO 17:12
Nelson, David 60 Greenwood Village, CO 17:15
Barnes, Graham 44 Boulder, CO 17:16
Grimm, Paul 46 Fredonia, AZ 17:40
Warren, Corinne 47 Monument, CO 18:17

Mark Lowe and Walter Zitz at the conclusion of the Colorado Death Ride.
This was Mark's 7th Death Ride and Walter's 2nd Death Ride.
Eric Nelsen had a stellar ride at this year's Colorado Death Ride!
Still developing his high altitude lungs, Indiana rider, Stephen Strayer, completes his first Colorado Death Ride.
Congratulations, Stephen!
After another death-defying ride, Steve Rudolph is glad to have survived yet another Colorado Death Ride! 
Back to his old form, Josh Horwood looks comfortable at the finish of this year's event! Great ride,  Josh!
Tom Miller completes his 5th Colorado Death Ride! Great ride, Tom!
After completing his first Colorado Death Ride, Tim Schaefer is well on his way
to completing his first Colorado Triple Crown!
RMCC endurance veteran, Vernon Smith, looks comfortable at the end of his first Death Ride!
Triple Crown veteran, Steve Schroer, continues to get faster and faster with the double century distance. Great ride, Steve! 
Jason Kaminski is relieved to have finished his second Colorado Death ride (and first Death Ride
in the traditional counter-clockwise direction!). 
A bit damp at the end of the ride, Colin Stokes (Mission Viejo, CA) and Michael Henderson  are relieved
to have finished the Colorado Death Ride. 
Chilled by the evening rain, Jon Sendor sets a new personal benchmark for distance! Great ride, Jon!
(Believe me...these rides do get easier with practice, although none of us ever get used to the rain!)
Harris Rosenthal, you are now a Colorado Death Rider! Congratulations! 
Jason Turner successfully completes his second Death Ride! Great ride, Jason!
Endurance veteran, Paul Grimm, completes his second Colorado Death Ride.
 Great ride, Paul!

Breckenridge rider, Andy Lapkass amazingly completes the Colorado Death Ride on a single speed road bike!
Impressive ride, Andy!
David Nelson survives another Death Ride! Per report, this was David's tenth time he has completed this amazing loop!
Completing his first Colorado Death Ride, Graham Barnes continues to impress on his modified mountain bike! 
Kelly Shannon gives up a valuable day to volunteer for this year's event. Thanks, Kelly!
Eric and Penny Nelsen get a chance to relax after a long day or riding and supporting riders, respectively!!
The appropriately named Red Mountain, as viewed from Red Mountain Pass on a relatively cloudless morning.
Mt. Wilson dominates the scenery to the southwest of Telluride (Photo by Tim Schaefer)
Sunrise at the base of Red Mountain Pass (Photo by Tim Schaefer)
Looking back toward Silverton from Red Mountain Pass (Photo by Tim Schaefer)
Trout Lake (Photo by Tim Schaefer)

Up Next: The Colorado Classic Double Century. Book your motel rooms NOW!!!!!