Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 Colorado Classic Double Century Recap: More Epic Than Brutal!

Beautiful blue skies at 12,126 feet on top of Cottonwood Pass
during the 2016 Colorado Classic Double Century (Photo: Mark Lowe)
15 brave-hearted RMCCers ventured into the heart of the Colorado Rockies to tackle the EPIC 2016 Colorado Classic Double Century. Featuring 241 miles, 16,000 feet of climbing, and approximately 40 miles of dirt and gravel roads, the Colorado Classic Double Century is arguably the most difficult single-day cycling event on the RMCC calendar and one of the most challenging double centuries in the world. Some have argued that this perhaps Colorado's "most perfect" cycling loop! The course traverses through some of central Colorado's most pristine and rugged landscapes as it climbs four of Colorado's finest mountain passes: Independence Pass, McClure Pass, Kebler Pass, and Cottonwood Pass. Jaw-dropping, high-alpine mountain vistas, plush mountainsides covered in mountain greenery and wildflowers, and miles of "off the beaten path" dirt and gravel roads were the norm for the day. Mother Nature smiled upon this year's participants, blessing them with beautiful sunny skies, warm temperatures (even at the highest altitudes), and tailwinds from nearly every direction! This was an unexpected (and pleasant) departure from 2015, which was marred by heavy thunderstorms that turned the dirt and gravel roads on Kebler Pass and Cottonwood Pass into a muddy (and brutal) mess! This year's event had a 100% finishing rate, extremely impressive for such a challenging ride! Kudos to all of this years participants! And thanks to our wonderful volunteers who made this day EPIC for everyone!

Due to the upcoming paving project of the west side of Cottonwood Pass, which will close the pass to all traffic until the end of 2018, this event will not appear on the Colorado Triple Crown calendar again until 2019.

2016 Colorado Classic Double Century Event Summary: 

  • 241 miles, 16,000+ feet of climbing
  • 4 categorized climbs:
    • Independence Pass: (elev. 12,096 feet): HC (from Twin Lakes)
    • McClure Pass (elev. 8,763 feet): Category 2
    • Kebler Pass (elev. 10,007 feet): HC 
    • Cottonwood Pass (elev. 12,126 feet): HC (from Taylor Reservoir) 
  • 2 crossings of the Continental Divide: Independence Pass and Cottonwood Pass
  • 40 miles of dirt and gravel roads, including the stunning Kebler Pass Road (28 miles) and the western side of Cottonwood Pass (12 miles), perhaps the state's most spectacular high alpine pass.
  • 21 hour time limit
Mountain serenity from the beautiful Taylor Canyon. (Photo: Grace Turek)
  • 17 pre-registered riders
  • 15 ride starters, 2 early withdrawals. Of the riders who started, 13 were men, 2 were women
  • 15 official finishers (100% finishing rate....0 DNFs!), successfully completing this epic course in under 21 hours (avg. speed > 11.5 m.p.h.).
  • Congratulations to Ryan Franz and Walter Zitz who finished with a total elapsed time of 14 hours, 26 min. This is a new course record, beating last year's mark by 27 minutes. Congratulations to Malinda Gillispie who was our speediest female finisher with a total elapsed time of 17 hours, 24 minutes. 
Might as well keep moving. There's nothing to see here! (Yeah, right!)  (Photo: Grace Turek)
Special thanks to this year's volunteers. We simply cannot run these events in this current timed format without their assistance! Thanks again to each of you for your time and efforts!
  • Michael and Grace Turek. Mike and Grace drove our lone support vehicle, providing amazing support for this year's riders at Independence Pass, the base of Kebler Pass, and Taylor Reservoir. 
  • Nick and Debby Faes. Nick and Debby ran a fantastic aid station out of the driveway of their home in Crested Butte.
  • Mark Michel. Long-time club member, Mark Michel, ran an aid station in Carbondale, servicing riders who had just made the long descent from the top on Independence Pass to Carbondale.
Kale Olson and Caleb Carl grind their way up the slow moving (but stunning) Kebler Pass. (Photo: Grace Turek)

Ryan Franz and Walter Zitz take a well-deserved breather at the conclusion of the ride! Great ride, guys! 
Mark didn't have his "A legs" during this year's ride, but still had a nice day chasing Ryan and Walter around on the course.
Steve Rudolph musters his trademark smile after another epic adventure on the bike.
Tom Miller survived some gastrointestinal issues near Taylor Reservoir to put together another stellar ride! 
Caleb Carl, who had a stellar ride, described the Colorado Classic as "the hardest ride I've done!" (The hard rides are often the more epic and rememberable rides! Glad to add to your repertoire of memories!) 
Andy Lapkass completes his second Colorado Classic Double Century on a single speed! Amazing ride, Andy! 
Corinne "I can't keep up with anyone on the downhills" Warren and Kale Olson at the conclusion of the ride. Corinne used the 2:00 am start time to her advantage, finding riders along the way to share the work with!

Jon Sendor had another great ride to complete his second Colorado Classic Double Century! Excellent ride, Jon!
Andy Stockman and Josh Peter are relieved to have survived a colossal Colorado Triple Crown adventure! Great ride, guys!
Malinda Gillispie picked a doozy of a ride for her first Colorado Triple Crown event! Great having you out there, Malinda!
Ray Rupel experienced Kebler Pass for the first time during this year's event! Great ride, Ray.
You can check this one of your bucket list! 
Chris Ellefson successfully completes the most challenging ride of his life!
There is no shame in being the "Lantern Rouge" during a 241 mile, 16,000 foot EPIC day on the bike! 

Kale Olson and Corinne Warren grind their way up the western slope of the rugged and spectacular Cottonwood Pass (Photo: Caleb Carl)
By far my favorite picture of the day! Josh Peter, Andy Stockman, and Chris Ellefson take a breather at the base of Kebler Pass! (Photo: Mike Turek)
Okay...we're taking wagers to see if Caleb Carl gets giardia after drinking water
from the sheep-infested creek near Kebler Pass. (Photo: Kale Olson)
Kale Olson gets a taste of ice cream bars and pickles at Taylor Reservoir.....any cyclist's culinary dream! (Uhh...maybe!?!) (Photo: Mike Turek)
 Steve Rudolph takes a breather at Taylor Reservoir (Photo: Mike Turek)
Better get going! Walter Zitz, Ryan Franz, and Mark Lowe speed toward Almont with tailwind assistance from Mother Nature. (Photo: Mike Turek)
Feeling a bit sick to his stomach after riding over 200 miles for the day, Tom Miller takes a break at Taylor Reservoir. (Photo: Mike Turek)
Ray Rupel prepares to make the 2,700 foot ascent over Cottonwood Pass. (Photo: Mike Turek)
Chris Ellefson and Jon Sendor prepare for the final climb of the day! (Photo: Mike Turek) 
Ryan Franz and Walter Zitz grab a snack at the rest stop in Crested Butte. (Photo: Grace Turek)
Caleb Carl, Kale Olson, and Corinne Warren at Taylor Reservoir (Photo: Mike Turek)
Dawn breaks over Independence Pass after the early 3:00 am ride start! (Photo: Grace Turek)
Special thanks to the Mike Turek family for providing support for this year's ride! 

By completing the 2016 Colorado Classic Double Century, the following riders have successfully completed the 2016 Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations to each of you!

  • Caleb Carl (1)
  • Ryan Franz (4)
  • Andy Lapkass* (1)
  • Mark Lowe (7)
  • Josh Peter (1)
  • Steve Rudolph (5)
  • Jon Sendor (2)
  • Andy Stockman (1)
  • Walter Zitz (3)
*Single speed