Sunday, December 31, 2017

Colorado Triple Crown: What's New for 2018?

1. 2018 Colorado Triple Crown: Mixed terrain adventures! 
In 2018 Colorado Triple Crown will feature a combination of rides that we've never used before. If I had to pick a theme for 2018, it would be "mixed terrain." Three of the five events on the 2018 Triple Crown calendar include sections of unpaved roads and the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder is about 90% unpaved. These three events will also comprise the "stage race" for 2018. The idea of mixed terrain rides may be intimidating to many road riders, but consider this an opportunity to improve your repertoire of bike skills while tacking new terrain and adventures! This year's series definitely benefits the most "well-rounded" road riders!

Incredible fall foliage on Kebler Pass (Photo: Mark Lowe)
We do have one new twist for 2018: the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century!
I have long had a fascination with Kebler Pass, which is one of my favorite passes in the state! We've used Kebler Pass previously in the Colorado Classic Double Century, but with Cottonwood Pass still under construction, we simply cannot complete this course. I have also had a fascination with the West Elk Bicycle Classic, which was one of the best gran fondos in the state and one of my favorite non-RMCC events in this state. In 2017, however, Western State University in Gunnison decided to "pull the plug" on their gran fondo for unclear reasons, leaving behind one of the best loop courses in the entire state. Well, this is were we step in! Now RMCCers will have the opportunity to experience this very fine cycling loop and one of the best climbing passes in Colorado!

In 2018, we are taking another year hiatus from the Colorado High Country Double Century (i.e., Boulder to Steamboat Springs) and the Cripple Creek Crippler. We are also taking a year off from the Denver to Aspen Classic, Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop, and Colorado Death Ride. As previously mentioned, the Colorado Classic Double Century will remain on hold while the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) continues a massive paving project on the west side of Cottonwood Pass.

To sum things up, here's the 2018 Colorado Triple Crown calendar:
  1. May 5, 2018: AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, Monument, CO*
  2. May 26, 2018: Colorado Mesa Double Century, Fruita, CO
  3. June 10, 2018: Death Ride Challenge, Durango, CO**
  4. June 30, 2018: Cycle to Saturn Double Century, Littleton, CO*
  5. Aug 25, 2018: Kebler Kamikaze Double Century, Crested Butte, CO*
*Stage race event

**Death Ride Tour will take over the reigns of the Colorado Death Ride for 2018. Please come out and support their event! 

For the Challenge Series Short-Course Events, we will once again plan to keep thing simple in 2018: 
  1. April 7 2018: Foothills Climbfest, Littleton, CO
  2. May 5, 2018: AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Short Course: For those riders who want a shorter (but timed) version of a 200 mile gravel road sufferfest. 
The twisty 7-mile descent down Oh My God Road turns the insanely difficulty Cycle to Saturn into a "mixed terrain" ride! 
2. Qualification
We will continue to the same pre-qualification recommendations that we've used for the last two seasons. I believe these recommendations 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. Any 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 2018, we will continue to 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 cost-recovery fee to help us cover the expenses for hosting the 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! 

Riders on the horizon during the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder (Photo: Ben Welnak)
4. Volunteers
We are 100% dependent on volunteer support!!! 
For 2018, 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 dawn. But volunteering can be quite a bit of fun too! For 2018, we will continue to provide the following incentives to volunteer:
  1. If a rider volunteers for an event, he/she can 1) ride that event (as a volunteer pre- or post-ride) any time during that cycling season for Triple Crown credit AND 2) Sign up for another Triple crown event during that season for free! You're essentially getting two events for free! 
  2. Riders who volunteer for an event can pre-ride or post-ride that event anytime during 2018 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.

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

3. Registration
  1. Fees. Registration fees will be similar for 2018: $50 - $75 per 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, 2018! 
  3. Withdrawal. For those individuals who have registered for an event and need to withdraw, they can do so up to 2 weeks prior to the date of the event for a full refund (minus our fees for using PayPal and Eventzilla). Within 2 weeks, refunds will not be granted. 
  4. Transfers. Registration fees are NOT be transferrable between events less than 2 weeks prior to the date of the event. So please plan ahead!
The Colorado National Monument is one of the highlights of the Colorado Mesa Double Century (Photo: Mark Lowe)

6. Triple Crown Kits

Riders who complete the challenging 2018 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 New Year and bring on 2018! 

Mark Lowe

Kebler Kamikaze Double Century

Cloaked in one of the largest aspen groves on the planet, Marcellina Mountain is one of the most prominent climbs along Kebler Pass Road as it winds its way from Paonia to Crested Butte.

The RMCC returns to the heart of the Colorado Rockies to ride the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century. This challenging double century reinvigorates life into the (saddly) now defunct West Elk Bicycle Classic, which was one of Colorado's most beloved gran fondos for several years!  The Kebler Kamikaze, as it's name implies, climbs the alluring Kebler Pass, a dirt road pass that has been featured in numerous bicycle events, from amateur tours to professional races. The RMCC has also previously ridden Kebler Pass as part of the Colorado Classic Double Century, an extremely long and difficult double century that has been on hold since 2016 due to a massive paving project on the west side of Cottonwood Pass. The Kebler Kamikaze Double Century has a unique twist compared to these other events! Whereas these other events cross Kebler Pass once from west to east, the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century, in true kamikaze fashion, dares to summit Kebler Pass twice, once via Kebler Pass Road and the second time via the lesser known (but equally spectacular) Ohio Pass Road. The Kebler Kamikaze Double Century has the potential for glory or heartbreak! Will you test your cycling fortitude.....and luck???

Date: Back in the near future!

Sign-in/Start: Early sign-in/start: 4:45 AM/5:00 AM. Late sign-in/start: 5:15 am/6:00 am.

Start/End location: Crested Butte, CO, Old Town Inn, 708 6th St, Crested Butte, CO 81224. Phone: 1-888-349-6184.

Course Map: Kebler Kamikaze Double Century (Preliminary route)

Registration: This event preliminarily has a registration fee (i.e., cost-recovery fee) of $60. Please register early. Registration is limited to the first 50 pre-registered riders. Registration closes 8/23/18.  Participants may withdraw by 8/11/18 for a refund. After 8/11/18, refunds will not be granted. RMCC membership is also required to participate in this event. For more information about membership: RMCC membership. 

Dense aspen forests line Kebler Pass Road.
Course Highlights:
  • Distance: 209 miles, 44 miles of unpaved roads
  • Climbing: 13,000 feet
  • 3 categorized climbs:
Amazing views of Black Canyon of the Gunnison from CO-92 to the west of Blue Mesa Reservoir. 
North Rim Climb, Category 3. 
This relatively short 4+ mile climb gradually ascends 1,000+ feet from the west end of the Blue Mesa Reservoir to the western margins of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, providing brief glimpses of the spectacular canyon below. After reaching the "summit" of this climb, CO-92 continues to undulate upward for another 10 miles before making the exhilarating, long descent to Crawford.

Kebler Pass is one of Colorado's finest autumn passes! 
Kebler Pass, Hors categorie.  Kebler Pass is a bohemeth, unpaved climb, ascending just under 5,000 feet as it winds its way through the West Elk Mountains from Paonia to Crested Butte. Kebler Pass is actually a double peaked climb consisting of two category 2 climbs; however, these two climbs collectively make Kebler Pass a hors categorie (HC) climb!  Many of the "flatter" sections of Kebler Pass Road mid-way into the climb are enshrouded in one of the largest aspen groves on the planet. In the autumn, the spectacular colors of these aspen come to life! 

Ohio Pass is a lesser known, rugged aspen-viewing pass and a challenging way to conclude a double century! 

Ohio Pass, Category 2. Ohio Pass is a true gem! Ohio Pass Road climbs 2,400 feet in 23 miles. The lower sections of the road are paved; however, as the road continues to climb toward the summit of Kebler Pass, the surface turns to a mixture of gravel, dirt, sand, and some rocks. Grades become steep as well, pitching up to 12-14%.

Time limit: 18 hours (to receive an official finishing time and Colorado Triple Crown credit).

Bike selection: In dry conditions, this course is entirely rideable on a standard road bike with 23-25 mm tires; however, if the weather is wet and the dirt roads become muddy, wider tires on a cross/gravel bike would be much preferred. Participants must ride the same bike for the duration of the event. Please plan ahead!

Event organizer: Mark Lowe (e-mail:

Additional Notes:
  1. Some ultra-distance experience is encouraged (but not required) to participate in this event.
  2. Pre-qualification: Please refer to our updated rules regarding pre-qualification: What's new for 2018??
  3. Given the exposure to high altitude, nasty weather can be a major concern with this event. Participants need to be prepared and bring their best winter- and wet-riding gear with them!
  4. Lights and reflective gear are required!

The stunning Blue Mesa Reservoir at sunset!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Save the Date! 2018 Colorado Triple Crown Events

Please save the date for the 2018 Colorado Triple Crown events!

2018 Colorado Triple Crown Events
1) Saturday, May 5, 2018: AntiEpic Gravel Grinder (and short-course event)*
2) Saturday, May 26, 2018: Colorado Mesa Double Century
3) Sunday, June 10, 2018: Death Ride Challenge**
4) Saturday, June 30, 2018: Cycle to Saturn Double Century*
5) Saturday, August 25, 2018: Kebler Kamikaze Double Century* ***

*Mixed-terrain ride (i.e., has both paved and gravel roads)

**This event is hosted by the Death Ride Tour. To receive Colorado Triple Crown credit, participants must comply with the rules of the Death Ride Tour and finish the event within their specified time limit.

***New (probably one-time) Colorado Triple Crown event. More details to come!

To get you inspired for 2018, here are some video slide show recaps of the 2017 events:
1) 2017 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder
2) 2017 Colorado Mesa Double Century
3) 2017 Colorado Death Ride
4) 2017 Tim Kalisch Memorial Grand Loop
5) 2017 Denver to Aspen Classic