COLORADO CYCLING

CYCLING IN COLORADO

Living in Colorado has afforded me the opportunity to ride many of the most spectacular road bike route and climbs in the country. I remember when it took me hours to research and map out routes, I have tried to compile recommendations and short-cuts for you while telling the occasional fun story. Please enjoy!

I create the very popular Pedal Dancer® annual Colorado Cycling Calendar Lists:

The very popular Pedal Dancer® annual Colorado Cycling Calendar Lists for 2016:
I also write blog posts about Colorado events, races, ride reports and news:

2016 blog posts about Colorado
2015 blog posts about Colorado
The Thump RMCC bike racing team rides along Lake Dillon in Summit County. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

WHAT IS PEDAL DANCER?

Pedal Dancer® contributes to cycling in Colorado in 7 ways:
  1. Compiling annual Event and Race Calendar Lists
  2. Detailing the climbs in Colorado with facts and links to experts
  3. Writing a Guide Page to Summit County Cycling
  4. Recommending local rides in Colorado
  5. Covering the race and writing Fan Guides to the (now extinct) USA Pro Challenge
  6. Volunteering in the community at events and as a photographer at races
  7. Writing local stories of cycling
1.  Pedal Dancer® Colorado Bike Event and Race Calendar Lists
    2.  Pedal Dancer® Colorado Climbs
    • COLORADO CLIMBS - The very best bike climbs in Colorado with all the facts, offered in one convenient place.
    3.  Pedal Dancer® Summit County Cycling
    4.  Pedal Dancer® Favorite Rides
    • FAVORITE RIDES - My favorite rides in Colorado and France are featured.
    5.  Pedal Dancer® USA Pro Challenge Race Planning and Coverage
    • USA PRO CHALLENGE -  For information on the 2015 USA Pro Challenge bike race in Colorado, August 17-23, 2015, please go directly to this Pedal Dancer Guide Page
    6.  Pedal Dancer® Volunteers!

    7. Writing local stories of cycling - through this blog.



    The switchbacks of Lookout Mountain  ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
    COLORADO CLIMBS GUIDE PAGE by Pedal Dancer® 

    The Guide Page allows you read all the resources available about the specific climb you plan to conquer; planning ahead to make your ride better and your bucket list more complete. I begin with the FAQs for each of the most popular Colorado climbs (or ones I really think you should ride), then offer links by the experts.

    26 Colorado Passes are featured on the Pedal Dancer® Guide Page to Colorado Climbs:

    Battle Mountain, Berthoud Pass, Colorado National Monument, Cottonwood Pass, Deer Creek / High Grade Rd., Fremont Pass, Grand Mesa, Guanella Pass, Hoosier Pass, Independence Pass, Lizard Head Pass, Lookout Mountain, Loveland Pass, Magnolia Rd, Maroon Bells, McClure Pass, Monarch Pass, Mount Evans, Rabbit Ears Pass, Red Mountain Pass, Squaw Pass, Super Flagstaff, Swan Mountain, Tennessee Pass, Trail Ridge Road, Vail Pass.

    A SUMMARY OF COLORADO MOUNTAIN PASSES

    Altitude of the mountain passes in Colorado:
    • Mount Evans: 14,160 ft (4316 m), 15%
    • Pikes Peak Highway: 14,115 ft (4302 m), 8%
    • Trail Ridge Rd: 12,183 ft (3713 m), 5.4%
    • Independence Pass: 12,103 ft (3689 m), 6%
    • Loveland Pass: 11,992 ft (3655 m), 6%
    • Hoosier Pass: 11,541 ft (3518 m), 8%
    • Slumgullion Pass: 11,361 ft (3463 m), 9.4%/7.9%
    • Fremont Pass: 11,318 ft (3450 m), 5.7%
    • Monarch Pass: 11,312 ft (3448 m), 6.4%
    • Vail Pass: 10,666 ft (3251 m), 7%
    • Leadville 100 course: low point is 9,200 ft (2804 m), highest point is 12,600 ft (3840 m)
    See more details at COLORADO CLIMBS



    The beautiful town of Breckenridge, Colorado. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

    SUMMIT COUNTY CYCLING GUIDE PAGE by Pedal Dancer®

    The complete guide to cycling in Summit County, Colorado by Pedal Dancer® can be found here: SUMMIT COUNTY CYCLING. Pedal Dancer® is a Ride with GPS Ambassador, I have recommended these road ride routes in Summit County:
    1. 25.6 miles: Vail Pass from Frisco through Copper Mountain
    2. 30.8 miles: Loveland Pass from Dillon Marina through Keystone
    3. 36.9 miles: Montezuma from Frisco over Swan Mountain and back
    4. 40.7 miles: Breckenridge around Lake Dillon to Keystone loop
    5. 66.5 miles: Summit County East to West - Loveland Pass to Vail Pass
    6. 79.1 miles: Copper Triangle - Traditional Route (Vail Pass last)
    Tips for Riding the Triple Bypass



    OLDER POSTS BY PEDAL DANCER® - Colorado cycling, events, ride reports and news:

    2014 posts by Pedal Dancer®

    Travel cycling:
    Colorado Coffeeneuring 2014:
    Colorado Cycling 2014:
    2013 posts by Pedal Dancer®
    More 2013
    2012 posts by Pedal Dancer®
    2011 posts by Pedal Dancer®
    2010 posts by Pedal Dancer®
    Vail Pass - Pedal Dancer
    Cyclists riding Vail Pass today, not a cloud in the sky. click to enlarge Photo© By Karen at Pedal Dancer®



    POSTS BY PEDAL DANCER - RACING

    Colorado Racing

    USA Pro Challenge - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    USA PRO CHALLENGE a collection of information and race reports from Pedal Dancer for the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 USA Pro Challenge, professional UCI American Tour stage race in Colorado.
      2014 Road Racing
      2014 Cyclocross
      2013 Cyclocross
      2012 Cyclocross
      2011 Cyclocross
      Bannock Street Crit bike race - Pedal Dancer
      At the race in downtown Denver.  Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

      WORLD CYCLING

      Pedal Dancer - some of my favorite recommended LOOP rides in the world:

      WESTERN UNITED STATES CYCLING
      CALIFORNIA
      UTAH
      Tour of Utah



      RECOMMENDED RIDES IN COLORADO BY PEDAL DANCER

      Pedal Dancer® Recommended Rides in Colorado:
      Colorado Ride Reports by Pedal Dancer®:
      Colorado Travel Reports by Pedal Dancer®:
      Colorado Image of the Day (series):
      Recommended Viewing:
      Misc - Colorado Cycling by Pedal Dancer®:
      My favorite areas to cycle in Colorado: I am certain every cyclist has their own personal favorites.
      • Copper Triangle (Copper Mountain, Leadville, Battle Mountain, Vail Pass loop)
      • Squaw Pass/Mt Evans/Idaho Springs Loop
      • Lyons, Old St. Vrain Canyon, Peak to Peak Hwy, Ward, Lefthand Canyon, Boulder Loop
      • Lyons, Allens Park, up Trail Ridge Road / Grand Lake
      • Deer Creek, High Grade, Turkey Creek area loop, SW Denver
      • Frisco, Keystone, Montezuma, Loveland Pass, Georgetown area
      • Cottonwood Pass between Crested Butte and Buena Vista
      • Deckers Loop south of Denver
      • Colorado Monument near Grand Junction
      • Independence Pass/Aspen (both sides)
      • Maroon Bells + Castle Creek, Aspen
      • Grand Mesa and Paonia area



      RECOMMENDED RIDES IN COLORADO BY OTHERS

      5280
      5280 Best Bike Rides, May 2013 edition
      Recommended Road Bike Rides in Colorado by 5280 Magazine:

      For a list of 21 recommended road bike rides in Colorado by 5280 Magazine, please read: Cycling Routes in Colorado by 5280 or see rides listed below. Recommended Reading: Spin Cities in 5280 Magazine, By Lindsey B. Koehler:

      ... With dry roads and sunny days stretching out ahead of us, we’re joining the frenzy—and helping you do the same—by highlighting some of the best road cycling routes (for beginners and experts alike!) along the Front Range and in Colorado’s famed high country. Clip in and enjoy the ride."

      Features of the 5280 article:

      In her article recommending 21 bike rides in Colorado, Lindsey B. Koehler has listed the major nearby city, distance, difficulty level, maps, profiles, and most importantly - rest stops or happy hour locations near the routes. I enjoy a destination or loop ride, and this 5280 article offers plenty of choices. I could fill the year doing all these routes; there remains three I have yet to tackle.

      The list of 21 road rides in Colorado that made the Best of list according 5280 Magazine, Spin Cities:
      • Colorado Springs: The Ride: Cheyenne Cañon, Distance (Hard): 11.4 miles round-trip
      • Colorado Springs: The Ride: Pikes Peak Highway (Hard), Distance: 60 miles round-trip
      • Beaver Creek: The Ride: The Copper Triangle (Hard), Distance: 92 miles round-trip
      • Beaver Creek: The Ride: Eagle River Ramble (Easy), Distance 27 round-trip
      • Steamboat Springs: The Ride: Steamboat Springs to Lake Catamount (Easy), Distance: 22 miles round-trip
      • Steamboat Springs: The Ride: Emerald Mountain Circuit (Moderate), Distance: 27.7 mile loop,  pg 3
      • Boulder: The Ride: Peak to Peak Highway (Moderate to Hard), Distance: 60 miles round-trip,
      • Boulder: The Ride: Neva Loop (Easy), Distance: 15.4 mile loop,
      • Boulder: The Ride: Super James (Hard),Distance:40 miles round-trip,
      • Boulder: The Ride: Boulder to Estes Park (Moderate), Distance: 78 miles round-trip,
      • Boulder: The Ride: Super Flag (Hard), Distance: 10 miles round-trip,
      • Boulder: The Ride: Magnolia (17%!)(Hard), Distance: 9 miles round-trip,
      • Boulder: The Ride: Carter Lake (Moderate), Distance: 65 miles round-trip,)
      • Bellvue/Fort Collins: The Ride: Rist Canyon Loop (Moderate to Hard), Distance: 42 miles round-trip,
      • Bellvue/Fort Collins: The Ride: see the ride
      • Aspen: The Ride: Maroon Bells (Moderate), Distance: 18 miles round-trip,
      • Aspen: The Ride: Extended Maroon Bells (Hard), Distance: 52.9 miles on two branches,
      • Denver: The Ride: Confluence Park to Cherry Creek State Park (Easy), Distance: 28.4 miles round-trip,  [I personally like the extension of the Cherry Creek Path from the Reservoir down past Parker].
      • Denver/Golden: The Ride: Lookout Mountain (Hard), Distance: 37.2 out and back,
      • Breckenridge: The Ride: Lake Dillon Loop (Moderate), Distance: 31 miles round-trip,
      • Breckenridge/Keystone: The Ride: Extended Lake Dillon (Moderate), Distance: 38.0 miles,

      TEAM EVERGREEN

      Recommended Road Rides in Colorado by Team Evergreen (a local bike club): Top 10 Local Rides


      MORE RECOMMENDATIONS

      Recommended Road Rides in Colorado by SteepClimbs (an out-of-stater!):

      • SteepClimbs.com offers a list of 13 rides including descriptions of his favorite climbs in the state: Colorado Climbs. A nice list for a rider from South Carolina.

      Recommended Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike) to Colorado's mountain passes by John Summerson :

      Recommended Road Ride climbs in Colorado by local Colorado Guy:
      Colorado Ride Reports - by riders on Ride The Rockies:
      Excellent climb descriptions by My Bicycle Routes:
      Colorado -passes in detail by Cycle Pass:



      COLORADO CYCLING TOURS and RACES

      Cycling Events / Races / Multi-Day Bike Tours in Colorado

      Sometimes the best riding can be found when someone else has already planned the route, it is a good idea to look at the routes these planned events use, also check out MapMyRide.com.


      USA Pro Challenge - professional stage race CANCELLED for 2016


      Read more about the race: USA PRO CHALLENGE



      Tour of Colorado
      Don't confuse the USA Pro Cycling Challenge with The Tour of Colorado which has been a collection of local amateur and pro races in Colorado since 2008. It is not a stage race.

      Series Name: Tour of Colorado
      Website: http://www.tourofcolorado.com/
      Dates: May through August
      Location: various cities in Colorado
      Races: The series is comprised of the Rocky Mountain Omnium in Glenwood Springs. North Boulder Park Criterium. Bob Cook Memorial-Mt.Evans Hill Climb. Sand Creek Air Force Academy Road Race, (Colorado Senior Road Championship).
      Who you will see: Local Colorado Category 4-1 racers
      Description: The name is Trademarked by Sand Creek Sports. Overall Awards are given for accumulated points in specified local races. Tour of Colorado is a series of existing Colorado races. Some races will be permitted with USA Cycling and some with the American Cycling Association.

      In my Opinion: Just a name. They were hoping to sell the name to the Tour Organizers above, but didn't. The series matters to maybe 20 cyclists in the state who race all these events and have a chance at an award.


      Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC)
      If you are a cyclist and interested in riding a week long bike tour across the state of Colorado:

      Website: http://www.bicycletourcolorado.com/
      Dates: annually in June
      Location: various cities in Colorado, usually a loop route
      Who you will see: 1500 amateur cyclists capable of riding 60-100 miles per day.
      Description: 463 miles, 7 day fully supported bicycle tour in the Colorado Rocky Mountains over several big mountain passes.
      Read a PedalDancer.com previous blog post: Bicycle Tour of Colordo - revisited

      In my Opinion: Challenging week of long mountain passes and porta-potties.

      June 21-28, 2014 - Bicycle Tour of Colorado, (week-long tour)
      7-day Loop ride Gunnison to Gunnison, Colorado

      A hard week on the saddle. You need to train well, ride steady, and be able to self support for this ride. Event organizers offer the usuals but riders are not pansied to as they are on Ride the Rockies. This is truly a ride, eat, rest, ride kind of week. I have a good friend doing this ride this year, so maybe I will have photos to share later.


      Ride The Rockies (RTR)

      Website: www.ridetherockies.com
      Dates: annually in June
      Location: various cities in Colorado, a loop route or point-to-point route
      Who you will see: 2000 amateur cyclists capable of riding 60-100 miles per day
      Description: The Denver Post Ride The Rockies is an annual bicycle tour that takes 2,000 cyclists, assisted by more than 100 volunteers, on a 6-7 day ride on paved roads through Colorado's Rocky Mountains each June. 400-530 miles.
      Read a PedalDancer.com previous blog post:

      In my Opinion: Fun, mod/hard, very social week, with 2000 cyclists of ALL abilities.

      Read a PedalDancer.com post about riding Ride the Rockies in 2008, Ride the Rockies - revisited and 2013 Ride the Rockies Route. Read all PedalDancer.com posts related to Ride the Rockies, 2014 Ride the Rockies Route. And Ride the Rockies 2016 Route Announced

      In its 30th year, this ride has a long history in the state with 2,000 riders vying for lottery entrance each year. Ron Kiefel and Nelson Vails have a tradition of joining the ride, this year George Hincapie will join in, as his brother Rich has been a regular for years. This is a casual social ride week with good climbs to please a pack of strong riders as well as tons of early starting moderate riders.


      Bike MS

      Annually in June - Bike MS, Fort Collins
      Annually in August - Bike MS Wyoming, Colorado-Wyoming
      1. Westminster - Fort Collins, Saturday, 68, 73 or 102 miles, (overnight at CSU)
      2. Fort Collins - Westminster, Sunday, 66 or 75 miles

      Triple Bypass

      Annually in July - Triple Bypass, Evergreen-Avon

      Triple Bypass: 120 miles, 10,000 ft elevation gain, 1 day
      Double Triple Bypass: 240 miles, 20,000 ft elevation gain, 2 days

      what: Triple Bypass
      where: Bergen Park (Evergreen) to Avon, Colorado (or reverse)
      when: annually in July. There is no mass start time. Start time is 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
      who: there will be 3,500 riders on the course on Saturday (traveling east to west) and 2,500 on Sunday (traveling west to east).
      why: a chance to ride three huge Colorado Rocky Mountain passes (Squaw, 11,140'; Loveland, 11,990'; Vail, 10,560') on one 122-mile "lung-busting day" with over 10,600 feet of climbing. This is a ride event, not a race (there are no times given).
      how: the event does have checkpoints (where you are unable to pass) where riders must show wristbands and helmet numbers to proceed.
      cost: Triple (one-way/either way): $150, Double Triple (two-way): $275

      Ride Report: Colorado High - Squaw Pass. The Triple Bypass is a classic bike ride event every July in Colorado. For 23 years this event has been growing in popularity. Getting into the ride has become the real race. After the event sold out in 45 minutes in 2010, the event organizers at Team Evergreen have devised a new registration plan, entrance into the Triple Bypass is a two step process: pre-registration/drawing and then registration (if your name is drawn).

      Triple Bypass Route Maps:


      The Double Triple Bypass profile map - 240 miles, 20,000 miles climbing in 2 days.


      I recently located the ClimbbyBike.com profile for Mt Evans. This is the profile from Idaho Springs up to The top of Mount Evans. Sure makes it look easy. ClimbbyBike.com climb information on Mt Evans, Colorado
       

      Squaw Pass: Pedal Dancer rides Squaw Pass
      Squaw Pass: MyBicycleRoutes
      Squaw Pass: MtEvans.com

      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer

      Loveland Pass: Summit Biking
      Loveland Pass: SummitCove
      Loveland Pass: MyBicycleRoutes

      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Vail Pass: CyclePass
      Vail Pass: MyBicycleRoutes

      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Please see more information about bicycle climbs in colorado at the Pedal Dancer® Guide Page: Colorado Climbs
       
      Triple Bypass Images - pictures from past rides:

      Squaw Pass

      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Loveland Pass
      Kenny Rakestraw climbing Loveland Pass   Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Kenny Rakestraw climbing Loveland Pass   Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Kenny Rakestraw at the summit of Loveland Pass   Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Summit on Triple Bypass day 2009,  Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
      Finish Area in Avon, Colorado

      Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer riding the Triple Bypass on Loveland Pass in 2009

      TIPS FOR RIDING THE TRIPLE BYPASS IN COLORADO

      It is said (by insiders) that 50% of participants on the annual Triple Bypass event ride in Colorado have ridden the Triple one, two or more times. The other near fifty percent are new! That is an incredible number, especially for marketing personnel who need to find those new riders each year, but mostly for the incredible challenge taken on by first-timers to the most challenging ride in Colorado.

      I say, if you can do it - do it now! Once I did it, I was done (and happily off to new challenges).

      My tips for preparing to ride - and riding - the Triple Bypass: 
      • Train well. 
      • Good bike fit is very important with this much climbing, descending and a long day in the saddle. 
      • If a personal coach drives you to train better - invest, otherwise plan your own rides in increasing distances and purpose (big mountain climbs!). 
      • Excellent training for the Triple Bypass is to ride an event like Ride the Rockies in June (or travel to France for a couple weeks like I did!). But you can simulate Ride the Rockies on your body by riding consecutive hard days of 50-70 mile distances, 3 days in a row. And then repeat. Active resting in between.
      • Get all your gear ready the night before (and check your tires) so you will be ready to go in the morning. 
      • Show up with a clean bike! 
      • Know and test all your gear (clothes and equipment) before the ride, don't experiment on ride day.
      • There is no need to have a riding partner on event day, or have the need to keep track of a large group throughout 120 miles of the ride. Chances are if you have trained together, you will be close in proximity on event day, or there to cheer them across the finish line. There are so many cyclists out on the road, excellent volunteers, aid stations and sag support, you should be safe and content and independently capable of this type of ride if you have prepared well. 
      • Get out in the elements! You want to put yourself in all weather conditions to best prepare for the Triple Bypass. Test out your gear and layers and your mental toughness. 
      • Buy and bring a good rain jacket. Expect to use knee warmers, and arm warmers, and definitely cycling gloves. 
      • Expect to be both cold, then hot and cold again during the course of the day. 
      • Bring ID, money and a phone (in a waterproof case).
      • If it is raining (or rain is in the forecast) wear long finger gloves. 
      • I never ride with a backpack. I carry all my gear in three deep pockets on a short sleeve cycling jersey. 
      • Hydrate hydrate and eat very well for 3-days prior. 
      • Rest prior to the event (according to your training schedule), ride the day before. 
      • Eat within the first 35-45 minutes of the ride, and continuously through the day, every 15 minutes. 
      • Personally I do not carry 2 full water bottles, I do use 2 bottles, but they are not always full. I study the course and plan where I will collect water based on ascent and distance. Since there are so many aid stations along the way, if you keep moving you do not need to (or should you) linger long at the aid stations. 
      • Use the aid stations, but move through them quickly. 
      • I pre measure and carry my own electrolyte drink powder mix inside small baggies to add to additional bottles of water throughout the day. This is not the day to experiment with any new mixes served at the aid station. The standard consumption of water is 1 bottle of water every 45 minutes, more if it is hot. If it is cold force fluids. You are still sweating, still blowing off Co2 and getting dehydrated. 
      • I keep my food open in my pocket and eat while I ride, I do not only eat at aid station when my bike is stopped. 
      • Avoid the bonk but eating known foods and eating steadily along the entire route. I break bars into small pieces and put them in baggies so I can reach into my jersey pocket and chew on a small piece. 
      • Ride very steady on event day, especially up Squaw Pass in the early morning. Squaw Pass is a long an intimidating start. 
      • Keep your own pace. 
      • Try to avoid sweating a lot when climbing to avoid getting chilled on the downhills. 
      • Keep your effort very steady both up and down the climbs. If you are comfortable with the technique of rotating the pedals even on the long downhills to keep the blood moving in your legs, do so. 
      • Get used to riding without music. You will want to hear "on your left". 
      • Don't psych yourself out when the climb appears hard, it is not, you can do it. 
      • Maintain your straight line while riding.
      • Do not stop for long breaks. Keep moving along. The weather might (more like definitely will) catch up with you later if you delay at every aid station. 
      • The key stretch for avoiding weather on the ride is between Summit highschool (south side of  Lake Dillon) and the underpasses on the other side of Vail Pass. Get to this section as early in the day as possible to avoid the 2:00-3:30pm afternoon rain showers so typical in Summit County. 
      • Be nice to the volunteers. 
      • Don't stress, stay steady and positive and relaxed (responsive) on your bike to save energy. 
      • It is an amazing feeling to see the finish line. 
      • After arrival eat as soon as you step off the bike, eat carbs and protein immediately. 
      • The recreation center near the finish offers showers for a fee. 
      • If you arrange for a friend to meet you at the finish with a backpack with towel and clean warm clothes, you will be so happy. Rest and shower, and then walk to dinner. Getting your heart moving again that evening will actually aid in recovery for the next day. Eat something for dinner that you would "normally eat". 
      • Try to get to sleep early, (even if you are restless at altitude if you stay in a hotel near the finish or plan to ride the Double Triple Bypass), lay still and rest your body. 
      • Encouraging one good friend to sag (drive, not ride) a group of you back from Avon to the start in Evergreen makes for a special finish to a day by sharing stories in the car on the way home. Otherwise bus transport back is provided at certain set times.
      For travelers to Colorado for the Triple Bypass

      Where to stay for the triple?

      The nearby city of Golden - nestled in the foothills near I-70 - would make a perfect place to settle for a day or two before riding the Triple Bypass. Whether you are arriving by plane/rental car into Denver International Airport, or driving south or north along I-25 into Colorado, Golden is on the path of convergence leading deep up the I-70 Corridor over the Rocky Mountains.

      Nearby Golden, you will find standard hotels and plenty of nearby climbs and roads to stretch your pedal legs and adjust to moderate altitude before taking on the high altitude climbs of the Triple Bypass. The actual town of Evergreen is residential, with few nearby hotels.

      If you plan to stay after the Triple Bypass and enjoy more local riding, the mountain towns of Frisco and Breckenridge, in Summit County, are a great places to road ride, mountain bike, paddle, hike and play. These towns are at altitude, so arriving into the state and plopping yourself down at 9000ft will take you three days (or more) to adjust.