The training for the Colorado Trail Race (CTR) is some of the best riding I have ever been able to do. It really isn't even training....or doesn't feel like it. No intervals....no HR data. These rides tend to be more 'adventure rides' than anything. This weekend was a 2 day 1 night ride to test out all the gear....including the sleeping gear.
On Wednesday of last week I grabbed all the area maps and pulled up TOPO! on the computer. The plan was to map out 2 days worth of 6-8 hour rides that included some hike-a-bike and traversing terrain from 9,000-14,000 ft. I drew up a hefty route....about 120 miles round trip. In CTR terms, this is a good 2 day training ride. About 70 miles a day....nothing crazy and nothing that will blow your system. Well, the funny thing about maps is they don't show you what the trail surface is like. You can get an idea of elevation gain and steepness....but you get no idea about how smooth or rough a trail is. Well, the route turn out to be what Sonya and I later termed, "Beastly."
Below is the route in pictures. We ended up riding a total of 14 hours over 2 days. We only covered about 70-75 miles, and climbed nearly 12,000 ft. There was a ton of hike-a-bike....most of it tougher than anything we will see in the week long CTR starting on Aug 1. Photos below are from my camera during the weekend.
Starting the weekend on the Colorado Trail near Hwy 50.
The balancing act of trying to carry 50lbs of gear across a bowing beam of wood.
The beginning of what would be a nearly 5 hour hike-a-bike section up to almost 14,000 ft.
Still pushing, but with rain gear. Warm summer day and monsoonal flow equals rain showers. Rain gear would only be needed for a few hours.
Above treeline....rain finally stopped. It was good to be pedaling again!
While it looked good on paper, this climb was a beast! This one photo sums up the entire route. If you look closely, you'll see Sonya pushing her bike up the road in the lower left-hand corner of the photo.
It took nearly 5 hours to get up to 13,000 ft......near the base of the 14er known as Mt. Antero....because of the lengthy hike-a-bikes. It was windy and cold. Sonya scrambles through her Ergon pack from some arm warmers.
This is the descent off the back side. Insane! Also one of America's most dangerous roads. Check it!
Back below treeline and getting some fresh cold water in the Ergon pack before getting to the high point for the night.
So much for dry feet!
Heading up to the Alpine Tunnel at 11,600 ft for the evening. Staying this high was the plan as to test the sleeping gear and get away from the thick mosquitoes. I have ridden this road about 4 other times. All 4 times at about 1 AM in the Vapor Trail 125. Odd to see it in the day light.
The campsite for the evening looking east along the rail-road grade to the Alpine Tunnel. This is part of the Vapor Trail 125 course.
Waking up Sunday AM. Mosquitoes were not an issue at all. Although we had to deal with off and on rain showers all night. I did not have a tarp and Sonya did. While we set up camp about 20 ft from each other, the rain quickly put us next to each other to share the tarp. Sleeping would be good for the evening....stayed 100% dry. Temps dropped to the low 40Fs and the rain wasn't that big of a deal once set up for it.
The morning started with a big push to the Continental Divide. Didn't take long to get the blood and legs going.
Once on top, the trail was awesome! We spent a few hours riding and pushing at 12,000 ft towards Tin Cup Pass.
What a way to spend the morning!
Lots of water still flowing from the massive winter snow fall.
Below treeline....the first time in nearly 12+ hours.
The ghost town of St. Elmo, CO
Riding back to where we parked on the Colorado Trail.
One of the few times were you can say "It's all downhill from here" and it's actually true!
Here is what we actually rode. My original route was nearly 120 miles round trip. Due to the slow going of the route I had drawn out, we altered it to only get in about 70+ miles over 2 days. We would climb nearly 13,000 ft. There was as much, if not more, hike-a-bike than riding!
Nearly 100 photos from the weekend are located HERE.