Every once and a while you do an epic ride that goes down in your personal
log of memorable days on the bike. Now imagine that on your epic ride are two
national champions, arguably two of the countries best climbers, Tour and Vuelta
participants along with some of the best riders that the US has to offer; that
is what my epic ride this week was like.
With the Saturn Cycling Classic just a couple weeks away, hoards of cycling’s
elite are flocking to the mountains of Colorado to get in some high altitude
training as well as preview as much of the route as possible. The race is on Sat
August 10 and goes from Boulder, CO to Breckinridge, CO…… the long way. With 6
categorized climbs totaling 14,000’ over 140 miles including some dirt roads and
mountain passes over 12,000’ the race is considered by many to be more of a
death march than a bike race.
On Tuesday I met up at 9am with Scott Moninger, Chris Wherry, Henk Vogels
(all Mercury), Chris Baldwin (Navigators), Will Frischorn, Tim Johnson, Damon
Kluck, Chris Fisher (Saturn), Dirk Friel (Jittery Joes) and Jan (a friend of a
friend who was in a bit over his head and the only amateur in the group). The
plan was to ride the first part of the course and then try and make it home in
one piece; easier said than done.
The route starts out with a 15 mile rolling section between Boulder and
Golden (home of the Coors brewery) along Hwy 93 which can also be called the
most dangerous road on the planet for riding one's bike on. We finally made it
to the base of the first climb without getting dragged behind a car and started
up the Cat 1 Coal Creek Canyon. Henk and Wherry decided that they were only in
the mood for a "one col" ride so they attacked at the bottom and we did not see
them until the top 15 miles later.
The course then heads south over 6 huge rollers (but more like small climbs),
on roller number two Jan decided that he had had enough and called it a day; we
were now down to eight. Damon had just arrived in town two days prior and was
having some difficulty adapting to the altitude but was hanging in like a champ.
We then turned into the gambling towns of Black Hawk and Central City, site of
the $5000 prime during the race and the start of the Cat 3 dirt road climb up
"Oh My God Road". Fisher stopped at the bottom to adjust his seat and Damon
dropped off the pace soon there afterwards. We reached the top with the group
down to 6, Dirk then decided that he had seen enough and turned around there,
collecting Damon and Fisher on his way back down.
The rest of us then descended down the gnarly, dusty, wash-boarded out road
into the small town of Idaho Springs. The course then continues along the
gradually climbing I-70 Frontage road until the base of the 12,000’ HC (above
category) Guenella Pass that climbs 20 miles up and out of Georgetown. We made
it just about to Georgetown and decided that considering we had already been
riding for over 4 hours and if we were going to make it home in the daylight
that we better U-bang it and head on home.
Since Baldwin was getting picked up "en route" he kept following the course
until he saw his girlfriend (the beautiful and super fast Kimberly Bruckner from
Saturn). He was not able to convince the rest of us to go with him mainly
because the 2 hour drive home in cycling clothes was not all that appealing.
With our little group now down to 4 we rotated steady all the way back to
Golden. From Golden on back to Boulder we were going for it! Tim was riding in
"safety" mode but was too proud to want to slow down the pace and stuck to the
wheel in front of him like glue. I don’t think that we fell under 30mph for the
last 45 minutes of the ride.
In total we covered over 120 miles in 6.5 hours with only two flats and 3 gas
station stops for pop and water, that is not all that bad considering that we
did at least 9000’ of climbing.
Aaah, just another epic day!
Thanks for Reading,