Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018 Kebler Kamikaze Double Century Recap

David Nelson cruises up Kebler Pass Road toward the photogenic, Mt. Marcellina  (Photo: Mark Lowe) 
On Saturday, August 25, 2018, members of the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club ventured to Crested Butte, CO in the heart of the Colorado Rockies to tackle the newest Colorado Triple Crown adventure, the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century. The inspiration for the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century course came from the West Elk Bicycle Classic, which is one of Colorado's most beloved Gran Fondo cycling events (2012-2016, 2018). The West Elk Bicycle Classic is a point-to-point route that travels from Gunnison to Crested Butte, nearly encircling the West Elk Mountains in the center of the state. The crux of the West Elk course is the 30-mile, 4,100 foot climb up the rugged (i.e., unpaved), remote, but incredibly scenic Kebler Pass Road. After the 2016 West Elk Bicycle Classic, event organizers decided to pull the plug on their event, citing lack of volunteer support. With the expected demise of the West Elk Classic, RMCC stepped up to continue this classic course as a timed double century which included a double ascent of Kebler Pass, including Kebler Pass Road and the less-traveled, more rugged, and much steeper Ohio Pass Road. Early in 2018, after the RMCC had announced that it was riding the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century, the Peak-to-Peak Cycling Club offered to provide support for the West Elk Bicycle Classic, allowing organizers to resurrect the West Elk Bicycle Classic in it's original 130-mile format. In spite of the return of the West Elk Bicycle Classic, the RMCC decided to proceed with the new, extremely challenging Kebler Kamikaze Double Century.

It's easy to get lost in endless aspen groves on Ohio Pass Road! 
Kebler Pass is one of Colorado's finest cycling passes, in spite of the fact that it is unpaved. It has been incorporated into numerous cycling events, including the multi-day Ride the Rockies cycling tour and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (2011-2015). The Colorado Triple Crown has also used Kebler Pass previously in the Colorado Classic Double Century. This extremely difficult 243-mile double century was not included in the Colorado Triple Crown during the 2017 and 2018 cycling seasons due to massive paving project of the west side of Cottonwood Pass between Taylor Reservoir and Buena Vista, making it impossible to complete this epic cycling loop.

Cycling Kebler Pass can be a "Jeckle and Hyde" experience. Riders never know what sort of weather they are going to encounter! In dry and sunny conditions, Kebler Pass Road is a spectacular pass with stunning vistas as it winds its way through the second largest aspen grove on the planet! In stormy weather, however, riding over Kebler Pass can be a cold, muddy, and extremely mentally challenging experience. This was the case during the 2016 Colorado Classic Double Century! On a day when weather forecasters had predicted a "0% chance of rain," strong thunderstorms blossomed over the West Elk Mountains and the skies opened up, turning Kebler Pass Road into a muddy nightmare for many participants! For many riders who could recall this demoralizing experience, the mere thought of riding a double century that included a daredevil double ascent of Kebler Pass, without the guarantee of immaculate weather, was truly a "kamikaze" experience!

Kebler Kamikaze Double Century participants can breathe a sigh of relief as they descend down Kebler Pass into Crested Butte, especially after the second descent! 

13 RMCCers accepted the challenge to ride the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century, with its double ascent of Kebler Pass! Participants had beautiful, cool, and sunny weather to start the day. But once mother nature figured out what we were up to, she decided to unleash a few afternoon and evening rain showers, which dampened the spirits of participants. Several riders decided to stop their ride and DNF after passing through Crested Butte for the first time, fearing that the second ascent of Kebler Pass via Ohio Pass Road would be a dreadful experience. In the end, all participants had the opportunity to experience the beautiful West Elk Scenic Byway, one of Colorado's finest cycling loops! Congratulations to all of this year's participants!

Riders exchange Kebler Kamikaze "battle stories" over pizza and beer at the conclusion of the ride.

2018 Kebler Kamikaze Double Century Summary:

  • 212 miles, 12,000 feet of climbing, 45 miles of dirt/gravel roads
  • 3 categorized climbs:
    • North Rim Climb/CO-92: Category 3
    • Kebler Pass Road (entire climb): HC
    • Ohio Pass Road: Category 2
  • 14 pre-registered riders, 13 rider starters, 1 early withdrawal. Of the 13 riders who started, all 13 were men. Alas, no women participants, but Erika Van Meter did successfully complete her volunteer pre-ride!
  • 8 riders successfully completed the course within the 19 hour time limit (62% finishing rate), 5 DNFS. 1 volunteer pre-ride finisher. 
  • Congratulations to Ryan Franz who posted the speediest time of the day with a time of 13 hours, 46 minutes (15.4 mph)! 

Results: 2018 Kebler Kamikaze Double Century

Video Slideshow: Kebler Kamikaze Double Century

Special thanks to our volunteers for providing event support! We cannot ride these events in their current timed format without their help!
  • Erika Van Meter
  • Mark Lowe
Congratulations to Ryan Franz for posting the speediest time of day! Ryan wins this year's stage race, which included the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, Cycle to Saturn Double Century, and Kebler Kamikaze. Ryan is a true maestro of mixed terrain rides! 
Jonathan Fey successfully completes the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century and his second Triple Crown event. Great ride, Jonathan!
It took a bit of prompting to get Andy Stockman to ride over Ohio Pass with rain showers in the area, but in then end, Andy did it to complete the Kebler Kamikaze and his second Colorado Triple Crown! 
Jason Kaminski and Harris Rosenthal in Crested Butte. Jason, who wins the award for best socks of the day, continues to live by the motto, "Do epic shit!" I agree, Jason! And Harris, at 56 years young, continues to get faster with age! Very impressive ride, Harris!
Jason's socks. Pretty snazzy, huh?!?
Rich Rodgers completes the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century and his first Colorado Triple Crown series! Great series, Rich! 
Ray Rupel in Crested Butte. At 64 years young, Ray ties David Nelson as the oldest rider to ever complete the Colorado Triple Crown. Hmmm, who will blink first? :)
By completing the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century, Michael Bass can call himself a Colorado Triple Crown finisher! Congratulations, Michael! 

Needle Rock, located between Crawford and Paonia

By completing the Kebler Kamikaze Double Century, the following riders have successfully completed the 2018 Colorado Triple Crown. Congratulations to each of you!
  • Michael Bass (1)
  • Jason Kaminski (3)
  • Harris Rosenthal (3)
  • Rich Rodgers (1)
  • Ray Rupel (5)
  • Andy Stockman (2)
  • Erika Van Meter (2)