Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Colorado Triple Crown: What's New for 2017?

1. 2017 Colorado Triple Crown: Back to Basics...with a couple of new twists! 
In 2017, the Colorado Triple Crown is returning to its roots and will include the three original events of the series: Denver-to-Aspen, the Colorado Death Ride, and the Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop. Due to concerns about excessive traffic along US-285, Denver-to-Aspen will once again use the new route with lighter traffic along the I-70 corridor, starting in Denver and climbing up Lookout Mountain and Mount Vernon Canyon.

To continue to mix things up and keep things "fresh" for our participants, we are taking a one-year hiatus from the Colorado High Country Double Century (i.e., Boulder to Steamboat Springs), Cycle to Saturn Double Century, and the Cripple Creek Crippler. And we are taking a two year hiatus from the Colorado Classic Double Century while the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) begins a massive paving project on the west side of Cottonwood Pass. So please don't fret! These events will likely be back on the Triple Crown calendar in the near future.

So what are these new twists???

Scenes from the surprisingly scenic AntiEpic Gravel Grinder course (Photo: Mark Lowe)
First, after much contemplation, I have decided to include the Anti-Epic Gravel Grinder on the 2017 Colorado Triple Crown calendar. As the name implies, the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder is not "epic" Colorado road cycling. First, the AntiEpic course does not include the classic high altitude climbs or scenic mountain vistas that Colorado is best known for. However, to imply that this course is flat and boring really does not do it justice. The AntiEpic course has well over 10,000 feet of climbing...nearly all of it coming in the form of steep rollers! And the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, with its wide-open prairie landscapes and pastoral beauty, really captures the essence of riding in eastern Colorado. Second, to break tradition from the other events in the Colorado Triple Crown, >90% of this course is ridden on hard-packed dirt and gravel roads. This is a marked departure from the other events in the Colorado Triple Crown (with the exception of 43 miles of the Colorado Classic Double Century and 7 miles of Cycle to Saturn) which generally traverse beautiful paved roads. So...200 miles of slow-moving gravel roads + 10,000+ feet of steep rollers equals a REALLY HARD double century.....definitely worthy of the Colorado Triple Crown series! For 2017, this AntiEpic course will be appropriately lengthened by 35+ miles to reach the 200 mile barrier, consistent with the other double centuries in the series. It will be an excellent "warm up" for the other events in the Colorado Triple Crown series, as well as for Dirty Kanza (6/3/2017), considered by many to be the "grand daddy" of gravel grinders in the U.S.! More to come soon!

The Grand Mesa is one of Colorado's most challenging climbs (and spectacular descents)! (Photo: Mark Lowe) 
Second, in 2017, the RMCC will venture to western Colorado to tackle a challenging, new course never before attempted by the RMCC: the Colorado Mesa Double Century! Starting (and ending) in Fruita, CO, the Colorado Mesa Double Century tackles some of Colorado Western Slope's finest climbs, including the behemoth, Grand Mesa. The course also explores the lesser known Reeder Mesa to the southeast of Grand Junction, and the Colorado National Monument, arguably the crown jewel of the Western Slope! More to come on this challenging new Colorado Triple Crown event soon.

So, to sum things up, here's the 2017 Colorado Triple Crown calendar:
  1. May 6, 2017: AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, Monument, CO
  2. May 27, 2017: Colorado Mesa Double Century, Fruita, CO
  3. June 17, 2017: Colorado Death Ride, Durango, CO
  4. July 8, 2017: Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop, Golden, CO
  5. July 29, 2017: Denver-to-Aspen, Denver, CO
For the Challenge Series Short-Course Events, we will plan to keep thing simple in 2017: 
  1. April 8, 2017: Foothills Climbfest, Littleton, CO: Hoping to catch a break with the weather in 2017.
  2. May 6, 2017: AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Short Course: For those riders who want a shorter (but timed) version of a 200 mile gravel road sufferfest. 
  3. Sept 2017 TBD: Boulder Fearsome Five: End-of-the-summer challenge for riders as they catch their second wind.
2. Qualification
We will continue to use our current pre-qualification guidelines, which give more riders from outside the RMCC access to the series.

Participants who have not met the pre-qualification requirements listed below can still register and participate, but they will need to ride with a personal support vehicle until they can demonstrate that they can safely complete at least one of the Colorado Triple Crown events within its designated time limit. As in previous seasons, RMCC membership is required to participate! 

To pre-qualify, prospective participants must complete one of the following events in the previous 24 months:
  1. Any Colorado Triple Crown event
  2. A mountainous double century (or longer) event in another part of the country (time required for verification)
  3. One of the RMCC-sponsored 300 km brevets in less than 14 hours (16.5 hours for the Cripple Creek 300 km brevet)
  4. Successful completion of another extreme endurance event of at least 12 hours duration:
    • Ironman Triathlon < 14 hours (time required for verification)
    • 50+ mile mountainous running ultra-marathon < 12 hours
For 2017, we will make an exception to the pre-qualification requirements for the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder. Any rider who is up for the challenge can sign up; however, 1) Active RMCC membership is still be required to participate. This is for insurance reasons. 2) There will be an additional small registration fee. This is a cost-recovery fee to cover our expenses for providing support for this event. 3) All riders who cannot complete the event will need to make arrangements to have someone pick them up. RMCC does not provide transportation for riders who cannot successfully complete this ride. Please keep in mind that an "I can do it!" attitude is fantastic, but it may not be adequate to successfully complete this event. Please be forewarned and come prepared!  

Please e-mail me if you have questions about pre-qualification! 

The picturesque Mt Sneffles Range from the Dallas Divide (Photo: Mark Lowe)

3. Registration
  1. Fees. Registration fees will be similar for 2017 (Early-bird special: approx $50/event. Week-of-event registration: approx $70/event). Please keep in mind that these are cost recovery fees for running these events. These fees barely cover our expenses for supporting these rides. We do not turn a profit for running these events! And if we do have funds left over at the end of the season, we will apply these funds toward the cost of the Colorado Triple Crown kits for those riders who successfully complete the series. 
  2. Registration will open on March 1, 2017! 
  3. Withdrawal. For those individuals who have registered for an event and need to withdraw, they can do so up to 3 weeks prior to the date of the event for a full refund (minus our fees for using PayPal and Eventzilla). Within 3 weeks, refunds will not be granted. 
  4. Transfers. Registration fees are NOT be transferrable between events less than 3 weeks prior to the date of the event. So please plan ahead!

Approaching the summit of Independence Pass (Photo: Mark Lowe)

4. Volunteers
We are 100% dependent on volunteer support!!! 
For 2017, we are continuing to ask (i.e., beg) for volunteer help!  I'm not going to lie! Volunteering for one of these events is a long day...usually between 12-20+ hours! And it usually involves getting up well before the crack of dawn. But volunteering can be quite a bit of fun too! For 2017, we will continue to provide the following incentives to volunteer:
  1. If a rider volunteers for an event, he/she can participate in that event (as a volunteer pre- or post-ride) OR another Triple Crown event for free.
  2. Riders who volunteer for an event may pre-ride or post-ride that event sometime during 2017 to receive official Colorado Triple Crown credit. This is the only situation that we will allow participants to pre- or post-ride and receive credit for completing the event.
  3. Volunteers who provide SAG/driving support for the event will be reimbursed for their mileage  accrued during the event (at the current Federal rate). We will also reimburse for volunteer motels and food/snack purchases accrued during the event. 
  • If we are unable to secure volunteers for an event, the event will still be contested in brevet format (i.e., without support). Please be aware of this! If this situation does occur, participants can expect to receive a partial refund for that event.
It's not called Red Mountain Pass for nothin'! (Photo: Mark Lowe)

5. 2017 Colorado Triple Crown Stage Race
The following Triple Crown events are included in next season's stage race. The rider with the fastest cumulative time for the following three events wins the series:
  1. Colorado Death Ride
  2. Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop
  3. Denver-to-Aspen

6. Triple Crown Kits

Riders who complete the extremely challenging 2016 Colorado Triple Crown Series are eligible to receive one of our stealthy Colorado Triple Crown kits. If we have registration funds left over at the end of the season, I will apply these funds toward the purchase of next season's kits.

Happy holidays and bring on 2017! 

Breath-taking views from Trail Ridge Road

Mark Lowe
e-mail: mvlowe5@comcast.net