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- 33851 total / 3857 in 2013
RMCC Triple Crown in 2013
Joshua rode: What an absolutely am...
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- 179 miles
- 10:55 time
- 16.4 pace
- 5996 calories
What an absolutely amazing ride in dream conditions! This is the first ride in a series of three that the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club organizes called the Triple Crown. The Denver to Aspen route takes in three passes above 10,000 feet with Independence Pass being the high point at 12,095 feet (3687 m). The route is Ken Caryl (a suburb of SW Denver), Deer Creek Canyon and High Grade, Conifer, Kenosha Pass, Red Hill Pass, Fairplay, Trout Creek Pass, Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, Independence Pass, Aspen, and Woody Creek.
The ride started at 4:00 and headed up Deer Creek Canyon. This was the first time I have done a long climb in the dark. It was quiet and peaceful. The only vehicle encountered over the first 16 miles was the support vehicle. Once in Conifer, the route headed south-west along Hwy 285 and climbed gradually to the 10,000 foot summit of Kenosha pass (this equates to 7000 feet of climbing in the first 50 miles). There was plenty of medium-sized hills along this climb and the short descents were quite chilly given that dawn was just breaking.
After a short descent off of Kenosha Pass, the next 45 miles on the South Park plateau to the summit of Trout Creek Pass is a section of the D2A route that many veterans fear. Though relatively flat, the elevation is all above 9000 feet and headwinds are usually a problem; but not today. It was the big ring all the way. The descent off of Trout Creek Pass presented beautiful views of the towering Collegiate Peaks heading to the checkpoint at Buena Vista with 110 miles in the legs. The next 20 miles heading north to Twin Lakes also featured a rare tailwind but upon turning onto Hwy 82 towards Aspen I finally had to do some work heading west along the lakes.
I fueled up in Twin Lakes and realized that I would probably not get hit with any storms. There were many threatening clouds, but they were more to the east and a westerly wind is generally a dry wind. With 134 miles in the legs, I began the 18 mile trek up Independence Pass. The first 12 miles climbs gradually in the shade. It was hard to get into a rhythm and I was starting to feel tired. The last 6 miles of the climb reminded me of the Galibier with the towering switchbacks climbing up above treeline. I was slowing down a bit but I didn't want to stop. I was treated to a 4200 foot plunge over 18 miles which is now my favorite descent in Colorado. I was warned of narrow sections of roads, potholes, and rocks. True, it is a technical descent by Colorado standards, but if you've ridden in mountaineous areas of Europe, the narrow road (at times only ~1.5 car widths) is no big deal. The road condition was quite reasonable; I don't think the complaints were justified. The route continued through the ski resort town of Aspen and finished in the small village of Woody Creek about 8 miles further west. The wind finally decided to have some fun with us. But I was in a group of two other riders and we didn't seem to mind the headwind.
My official ride time with stops was 11:30. I think this placed me 6th out of 19 riders. I was pleased with my performance given that I've had some struggles this year getting the nutrition right (which I believe is the most challenging aspect of ultra-long distance riding). I think I'm ready for the Death Ride in two weeks.