Sunday, September 14, 2014


Colorado Summer Riding and Pro Challenge USA Tour

by: Brent Moody 

Colorado – Some of the finest riding in the states. Riding is in abundance in Colorado, rather you choose, road, Cyclocross or Mountain Bike.

There were so many memorable rides in Colorado; I don’t know where to begin. We were staying in the Loveland/Ft. Collins area, which is in Northern Colorado. There’s a group of riders I met a few years back in Nebraska, so this is their area of riding. They took me to some great spots. One of my most memorable is up Rist Canyon from Ft. Collins. There were about 10 of us on this amazing morning, and they were preparing me for what I thought was climbing Mt. Rainier. Well it proved very challenging. Rist Canyon is a great 40 mile round trip from Ft. Collins to the top and back. It’s a great 2 lane paved road, minimal traffic, and LOTS of cyclist. Steady climb to the top and nearing 13% for the last mile. The challenge is once you get to the top, keep going over the other side to the bottom, which is 2 miles. Turn around and come back up. I could persuade anyone else to go, so I had to do it alone. 17% grades coming back up with what I believe an average of around 10%... This was tough, thankfully only 2 miles up!! By the time I made it to the top, it was time to head down the other side and back home. Put this on your bucket list!

Next ride was going up Hwy 34 from Loveland up to Estes Park! This road was taken out about a year ago by the Big Thompson Flood. Heard it rained about 12” in a very short amount of time. This was a 500 year flood and they had a 100 year flood about 30 years ago. Not a place I would want a house. Beautiful ride up though, big Canyon Walls, repaved 2 lane road, 17 miles up from the start of the climb. Took of pretty early, trying to skip the amount of traffic that goes up. We rode up to the town of Drake, and then veered right and took the partial paved/gravel road. Was less traffic and was amazing!! Lots of devastation as the water if a powerful arm of Mother Nature. About near the top of this road, there’s a town called Glen Haven. There a delicious little convenience store there that makes their own homemade cinnamon rolls, a must stop! From glen Haven, it’s only about 4 miles to the top, but some major switchbacks that are about 13% grade. Once at the top, it’s the “Holy Moly” ta da view of Estes Park. This is one of the best views in Colorado. Estes Park is home to the Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park as well as the famous hotel “The Stanley Hotel.” The Stanley was featured in THE SHINING!   Magnificent hotel and a great little place to eat. After grabbing a bite to eat, it was time to go. We decided to take Hwy 34 down, and hit high gear. As Murphy’s Law states, wind I always in your face, LOL. We pedaled hard coming down, but it was a quick trip. One of my favorite rides as well.


Mountain Bike Ride, how how I have longed to get one of these in. The amazing thing about this is that I happened to go ride with a high school buddy of mine and his wife. I have seen this guy since I graduated from high school, and that's been 28 years! I happened to find him on STRAVA! Coincidental, but was supposed to happen. We had a great time catching up and actually went on a few rides. My buddy Dave and his wife Michelle, are national champion MTB in their categories. To put it politely, they schooled me on the MTB trails.


After being in Loveland for a few months, it was time to start moving south. The only place we could find between Loveland and Santa Fe, NM was in Colorado Springs, CO.  PERFECT!!!  We were wanting to watch the pro challenge race anyways, so couldn’t ask for a better RV place. SO MUCH Great riding around Colorado Springs, was in heaven.

1st suggested ride out was up and around Cheyenne Canyon, directly out of Colorado Springs. Great little 35 mile ride, minimal cars, some great climbing, excellent views of waterfalls, and a dirt pass to go over. I took my CX bike on this ride, and it didn’t disappoint. Excellent views of Colorado Springs and some grades around 14%! Surprised I didn’t see any other bicyclist out on this route.

2nd suggested ride was thru Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs. Garden of the Gods can never get tired of this park. Amazing rock formations, breath taking scenery, morning, noon and night. I rode this park many times in the 3 weeks we were there. It’s a short route thru the Garden, only about 7 miles, and so plan additional routes accordingly. Excellent mountain bike single track, running trail routes.

3rd suggested route, and the granddaddy of them all, PIKES PEAK! Huffer Puffer for sure, so plan accordingly. Colorado Springs has excellent weather in the am and thunderstorms coming in around 2 pm every day, which usually form around Pikes Peak, which is at 14,400’. My wife and I drove up there first to check it out, which is fully paved now all the way to the top. There a few places in the road as you’re driving, you can’t see what’s in front of you it’s so steep. Roads are really narrow and lots switchbacks. My wife laid in the back seat all the way up, lol!  At least this gave me an idea for the bike ride up and what to expect.

 I was able to persuade one of my buddies from Denver to come down and ride it with me. Pikes Peak from the entrance of the park is 23.7 miles to the top, with an avg grade of 6.2% and a 7700’ elevation gain! We did get a late start out the next am, leaving about 9am, so I knew we might be in trouble for thunderstorms on the way up, but what the heck! It was a great trek and once we were inside the park a few miles, my buddy told me to take off as he was going to take his time. Time to grind! Each bend in the road is amazing views, and Pikes Peak is pretty much in the view the entire time. I made it past the 1st check point at the Crystal Creek Reservoir. 

I waiting for my buddy to catch up and make sure he was ok. He still assured me to take off and make it to the top. So off I went! I busted it up to the next checkpoint, which is a small shop and “brake check” stop for the trip down. I fueled up quickly and took off again. Weather was starting to get pretty nasty, but I decided to go.

I made it up a few more switchbacks and miles up the road before deciding to turn back. The wind was blowing about 40 mph, storm had set in, and it was snowing and sleeting. I met a couple of other bicyclist coming down and that yelled as they rode bye to turn back, roads were slick. DARN!!
I decided to play it safe and turn around. I quickly hauled down the mountain, meeting my buddy about ½ way between checkpoint 1 and 2.  He said he was wondering how I was as the top of the mountain looked socked in from where we were looking. Another try another day..

Another quick “must do” in Colorado Springs, is to go run up the “INCLINE” at Manitou Springs, CO. This is an old railroad track that was used for mining that has been converted into a running/hiking trail. What’s unique about this trail is its 2 miles long, 1 mile up in elevation gain, 2000 steps, roughly 45% incline.. once you get to the top, the views are amazing. You can choose to go back the incline, or you can run a trail down the back side the winds around, not as steep. About 3 mile long. Get there early, and plan to walk or run a 1/2 mile or so to get to the starting line. If you wait too late, plan on a 2 mile walk/run to get to the start, its busy!                    It’s tough and challenging climb! DO IT!




The week had finally arrived for USA Pro Challenge to start, very excited!! Another buddy of mine from Denver had a place to stay in Aspen, so we planned to go up a few days before thru Leadville and then watch the opening stage in Aspen.

This timing all worked out perfectly. The Leadville 100 mile run was this weekend before USA PRO Challenge started, and was right on the way to Aspen. There were no hotel rooms around Leadville available, so I brought my tent, deciding to rough it a few days. Leadville, CO sits at 10,600’ base, so air is pretty thin there. Leadville is famous for its Leadville series. Most of you have probably heard of the Leadville 100 MTB race, where Lance Armstrong won this race, riding his last 25 miles on a flat tire.. Go figure! What you might not know is that Leadville has a series you can enter in, and become a Leadman/Leadwoman. This series take place of 6 weeks long. If you want to enter the series, you have to pick 5 of the 6 events and finish under the cutoff time. Events are Heavy ½ marathon, Full marathon, 50 mile run, 100 mil run, 50 mile bike combined with 10k run next morning, and 100 mile bike.
There are some tough individuals here. I was able to get the full experience of the 100 mile run, watching this race from start to finish. The race is 100 miles long, with check points about every 13 miles, trail running, 18k’ elevation gain (starting at 10,600ft!), with a 30 hour cut off time. You have to run the first 50 miles by yourself, then after that you can have some support pacers run with you for the remainder of the 50 miles. There were over 350 racers! Crazy crazy… The winning time was a guy in his late 20’s, finished in just over 16 hours.. Ending up loving this adventure so much, I’m entering it next year!

I did get a road bike in and around Leadville after the start of the race. I rode around the paved road that circumnavigates the lake. Very beautiful, winding steep roads, low traffic, wildlife, and a true feeling of serenity.  I can’t wait to go back and spend more time here.


After the Leadville 100 finished, time to go to ASPEN!! Best thing about this is the route to get to Aspen… up and over Independence Pass. I have rode my bike over this before, so taking it in by car was a different experience. I trust myself more on the bike than I do in the truck! This is a must ride as well if you get to Aspen/Leadville area.

We arrived in Aspen, and first challenge was… Let’s hike from Aspen to the top of the ski resort. Not the roads, but straight up!! We did it..

My buddy and I decided to get a ride in the next am before the race start that day. We were going to ride some of the course, and then as well up Maroon Bells Canyon and turn around.  We were getting ready to take off on this ride from downtown Aspen, having breakfast and coffee first, when to our surprise… George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde rode by with a few other guys.  We thought about taking them, and stomp em up the mountain, but we didn’t want to embarrass them today… LOL, yeah right. We did hear there was a Lance Armstrong siting as well, but didn’t verify that. This ride up Maroon Bells Canyon… its seems like it keeps getting better. It dead ends at a lake up in the mountains, which is on the back side of Crested Butte, CO.  We stopped when we arrived up there, walked around the lake a bit before heading back. Some amazing pictures.

After heading down the Canyon, it was time to get back on the Pro Challenge route. We rode about 15 miles of it, up the KOM portion. This route for the PRO CHALLENGE was a 3 loop circuit that was 22 miles each, and around 2600’ elevation gain each lap. It was challenging for sure. It was time to get back, get showered and to the race as a 1pm start time. That was a lot of people at this race!! Venues and sponsors with booths, like going to the carnival! We were able to position ourselves at the last curve of before the sprint to the finish, which was about 300 meters. This was an amazing time and what an experience.  It’s on the list for next year as well to try and watch all the stages.

Time to get back to Colorado Springs and get ready for the stage circuit in Colorado Springs. Great thing about this stage, the cyclist were coming right by our RV Park almost 8 times! We didn’t have to fight traffic, just pulled our lawn chairs out and watched the race. I have a buddy that works for TREK, and had asked me about riding in a team car.. Oh how I would have loved to, but it didn’t work out. There’s a flip side to this though… I would have been able to see the race at all if I had rode in the car. As I really cringed on not being able to ride in the TREK car, I was happy to watch the race. This was Jens Voigt’s last race, he was retiring!! Jens gave us a great show. He really hammered it out and was trying to win that stage, but was caught with about 400 meters to go… bummer. Best thing was I have some amazing pictures of Jens coming around the corners.  Good luck in retirement Jens...

Great times, great Memories.. Oh How I love Colorado…

Next up in back to New Mexico for a month!

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