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Bicycle Tour of Colorado - Training with 77 days to go

Updated on April 16, 2014

Summary of BTC

Bicycle Tour of Colorado runs June 21 through June 28 this year, starting in Gunnison, Colorado and traveling 400 miles through mountain communities, including Gunnison, Montrose, Ouray, Durango, Pagosa Springs, and Creede. Daily ride distance varies from 34 to 105, and we will cross eight passes or divides.

Last year my husband and I did Ride The Rockies, which was a similar adventure.

Scenery out of Telluride on 2013 Ride the Rockies
Scenery out of Telluride on 2013 Ride the Rockies
Climbing Wolf Creek Pass on 2013 Ride the Rockies. We'll be doing this pass again on BTC this year.
Climbing Wolf Creek Pass on 2013 Ride the Rockies. We'll be doing this pass again on BTC this year.

Training for BTC

It's going to be important to get in a lot of training before the ride. Unfortunately our spring weather here in Denver has not been cooperating. If it hasn't been snowing the wind has been blowing with gale force. But I've managed to get in some good rides already - just not enough of them with only 77 days to go! I also need to do better at getting out during the week on some regular rides.

We have some big rides scheduled for training. June 1 is the Elephant Rock Century (100 miles). Last year Elephant Rock was super windy, so it's a definitely challenge! And every Saturday we do 45-60 or so miles with the Bicycle Village (our favorite local bike shop) group ride. Sundays are for additional long rides and I have some plans for that with some challenging and hilly distance loops laid out by the Evergreen bike club.

In addition, we want to climb Loveland, Johnson, and Vail passes, since we are also doing the Triple Bypass this summer, which happens two weeks after BTC finishes. More on Triple Bypass later.

Dinosaur Ridge

Training already done - Dinosaur Ridge 3/29 - 48 miles, 3000 feet climbing

My first really good ride this spring was a Saturday group ride to Golden, with the Dinosaur Ridge loop, 48 miles and 3000 feet of climbing. I felt great on this ride, even though I was a little worried about the distance, not having had to good mileage in that I would have liked.

Dinosaur Ridge is outside Golden, kind of in the Red Rocks area. The road over the ridge is closed to traffic, and is designated for foot and bike traffic. There are real dinosaur fossils up here, although I haven't ever stopped my bike to look at them. I also haven't seen any live dinosaurs. But it's a nice loop, one of my favorites.

When we ride to Golden we always stop for coffee at the downtown Starbucks. There would be open mutiny on our rides if we did not stop for coffee somewhere! When it was time to go, four of us slower riders took off a little ahead, to try and get a jump on the faster folks. A couple of them knew a new way to get over to highway 40, so I learned a new route. I get lost a lot, but I think I could retrace this.

Bear Mountain scenery

Bear Mountain Loop - Evergreen 3/30 - 21 miles, 2100 feet climbing

The next day my friend Jill and I drove to Evergreen and did the Bear Mountain loop. Only about 21 miles, but 2100 feet of climbing. It was a chilly day, but we kept warm with some long, sustained climbs. There were a couple, both about five miles long. It was a good ride!

One of the most exciting things on the ride was my discovery of Tiny Town, a miniature village with a train around the perimeter. It will be great to take my grandbaby to when he visits this summer!

Coffee in the sun at Ozo in Boulder

Ozo in Boulder and THE WALL, 4/5 - 38 miles, 1900 feet climbing

The next Saturday, 4/5, we rode to a favorite local coffee shop in Boulder. We had considered climbing Flagstaff mountain, which we do fairly often in the summer. But as a group we decided it was too early in the year and it would hurt too much! Instead we returned home via The Wall, a nasty little bump in the road that is about 1.5 miles long and hits ascent grades in the double digits. It's a challenge! I was really pleased with how well I climbed it today.

The Wall showed up in the 1980s bike movie American Flyer with Kevin Costner. It's kind of fun to watch, because we see some of our regular rides!

Lookout Mountain

Beth at the top of Lookout Mountain
Beth at the top of Lookout Mountain
Deadhorse trail out of Skagway, Alaska.
Deadhorse trail out of Skagway, Alaska.

Lariat Loop - Evergreen, 4/6 - 41 miles, 3600 feet climbing

The next day Jill and I went on our own ride and did the Lariat Loop out of Evergreen. This was 41 miles with 3600 feet of climbing. A great ride. We drove to Golden and started there. Eventually I want to do this loop and ride to Golden, but that will add about 25 miles to the distance, so not yet!

The way we did the ride, starting at Starbucks, we climbed Lookout Mountain first. Lookout is about 5 miles long, with average grades of about 6%. I'm getting used to doing it, and before BTC and Triple Bypass I hope to do some repeats on it. It's kind of a ritual for bikers around Golden. There's almost always a steady line of people grinding their way to the top. It always reminds me of Deadhorse pass on the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska during the gold rush!

After Lookout we continued to climb into Evergreen, riding mostly on highways. Then had a long and very fun descent into Morrison. Then a five-mile climb up out of Morrison. That was a bit of an unexpected shock! I had seen that bump on the course profile but did not realize it was five miles long! But then we had another nice downhill cruise into Golden, which was good because by this time we were racing the weather. It was warm and sunny when we started, but clouds were rolling in by this time and I could see rain (or maybe snow) getting closer and closer. We made it, although we were pretty chilled through by the time we got back to Starbucks. I treated myself to a mocha for my efforts.

Gunbarrel in Boulder and The Wall, 4/12 - 51 miles, 2400 feet climbing

Saturday 4/12's BV group ride was to another favorite coffee shop in Boulder with the return once again taking us up the Wall. This time we got in 51 miles, 2400 feet of climbing. It was another good ride. Warm and sunny. I rode in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey with arm warmers. By the time we finished it was 75 degrees. Beautiful! And that night is snowed....Denver weather is psychotic.

After coffee at Gunbarrel we came back via the Wall again. I'm getting really good at the Wall. It never hurts as much as I think it's going to!

Training for the next 77 days

I need a training schedule, to target ride distances for the weekend long rides, and get a regular schedule for weekday rides. I'm working on that now.


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    • Beth Balen profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth Balen 

      4 years ago from Arvada, Colorado

      I do have a trainer. Hard to get motivated to use it - I do ride it once or twice a week when the weather is bad, but it's like watching paint dry.... We do have some awesome riding here. And it is accessible most of the year round!

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      There looks some amazing riding in your neck of the woods that some of us would relish the chance of riding.

      Do you have a turbo trainer or set of rollers as home to eneable you to ride pretty much every day? It might sound like an easy option but just getting the body used to day upon day of effort takes some getting used to so being able to set your bike up to a trainer and ride for an hour of an evening is an ideal way to keep those rides going if the weather isn't quite agreeable

      Looks like you're having fun too!


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