Thursday, May 26, 2016

Colorado Front Range ACP Super Randonnée

The Colorado Front Range Super Randonnée is a Permanent of slightly over 600km sanctioned by the Audax Club Parisien, and approved by the ACP in spring of 2016.

Longs Peak
The rules for this format are that the route must be at least 600km in distance, and have at least 10,000m of climbing, for which you are given 50 60 hours to complete as a Randonneur (plus one hour for each extra 500m of climbing), or about 7½ days as a Tourist.

Satellite Map

Road / Land Use Map

About Super Randonnées

ACP Super Randonnée permanents are somewhat different from RUSA permanents. If you are considering riding this or another Super Randonnée, please study the ACP rules carefully. In particular:
  • Support - No personal or official support is allowed, even at controls.
  • Control Time Limits - Intermediate controls do not have opening or closing time limits. You may, however, wish to construct a plan as to when you reach successive controls, based on climbing, sleep breaks, hours of darkness, etc.
  • Photo Control Validation - Each control (including start/finish) may be validated by taking a picture of your bike - with ACP SR frame badge affixed to it - in front of a predetermined landmark (see below). If the control is in a town, you may take a picture of your bike in front of the town line sign. Some controls have an option to validate at establishments as well. If a control provides an establishment option, you can get validation at an establishment instead of taking a photo. There are no info controls. 
  • Control Photo Timestamps - All your control photos must have either a date/timestamp embedded in the photo image (a common option on today's cameras), or as part of the DCIM information associated with digital photo files. This goes for intermediate controls as well as start and finish, and allows intermediate controls to be reused in the course of a ride (e.g., if the route is an out-and-back).
  • Randonneur vs. Tourist - You may ride the route for "Randonneur" credit (time limit of 51 hours for this route), or "Tourist" credit (successive days of at least 80km). The ACP would like to encourage the Tourist option if it suits the rider's goals - for example, it may be useful for scoping out the route to ride later as a Randonneur.
  • RUSA Credit - Riders completing this route as a Randonneur also get RUSA credit, which can be used towards awards the same as other RUSA permanents.
  • R-10000 - One reason some people may be interested in riding an SR 600k is that it's a requirement for the ACP's Randonneur 10000 award.
About the Colorado Front Range SR

The Colorado Front Range SR takes in most of the Colorado Front Range, the eastern flank of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This terrain is well-suited for a Super Randonnée as it has lots of climbing and virtually no flat terrain. It is also scenic and somewhat remote, despite being not that far from the population centers of the Front Range. This is because the Rockies rise up in kind of a wall from the eastern plains, with a 4,000-5,000 ft. difference between the Plains and the Peak-to-Peak Highway. The route comes within six miles of the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Mt. Toll and the Indian Peaks Wilderness from the Peak-to-Peak Highway

This is an out-and-back route. It takes St. Vrain Canyon up to the Peak-to-Peak Highway, varying between 8,000 to 9,200 ft., then through the old mining towns of Blackhawk, Central City and Idaho Springs. From there, it's up to Echo Lake and the high point of the route (11,134 ft.) on the Squaw Pass road. The southern part of the route visits the forested areas of the Rampart Range and the foothills west of Colorado Springs to reach the turnaround point in Woodland Park.


While the route has sustained altitude, it avoids the high passes and the exposed roads above timberline such as the Mt. Evans road which spurs off from Echo Lake and reaches 14, 130 ft.

Echo Lake
Despite the route's rustic and remote character, there should be ample services for the rider to support him/herself. The turnaround point in Woodland Park has stores, restaurants, and lodging. While the halfway point may not be ideal for a sleep break, this is a good candidate.

Mining Ruins near Central City
Most of the route is through National Forest land. There are no extremely steep grades, although Witter Gulch is a stiff climb, and overall the climbing can be strenuous because there's a lot of it, and less oxygen than at lower elevations.

Upper Bear Creek from the Squaw Pass Road
Because of the arid climate, nights can get quite chilly in the Rockies, down into the 30's even in summer. Plan to bring enough clothes to stay warm on descents during chilly periods. Storms can also be very chilling, so it's important to be equipped to stay dry. The sun at altitude can burn more strongly than lower down, so use sunscreen. Assess the weather forecasts carefully before setting out on a ride of this nature. Finally, as with most Super Randonnées, beware of wildlife on the road, especially at night.

Elevation Profile - first half

RideWithGPS Route (showing services, controls, climbing)
NOTE: This route has some minor inaccuracies on the segments between Black Hawk and Idaho Springs (outbound and return), corrected below.
- - -
Black Hawk to Idaho Springs (outbound)
Idaho Springs to Black Hawk (return)

OpenRunner Route (official climb-measuring tool)

Cue Sheet (showing services, elevations)

If you are interested in riding,
1. carefully review the rules,
2. contact the route owner,
3. send a signed waiver.

If you'd like to coordinate with other riders,
you are welcome to use the Colorado Rando Google Group.

This route has not yet been ridden, so bear that in mind if you are interested in riding it.


Photo Controls

1/11 Niwot
1/11 - Niwot - Alternative photo is carvings near Niwot and 79th St.

2/10 - Lyons

2/10 - Lyons detail
2/10 Lyons - mural at visitors center


3/9 - Eldora

3/9 Eldora - town line sign (pointing west)
(This is an interesting sign, because it greets you if you've come back from the Hessie or Fourth of July Trails, or have hiked over the Continental Divide.)


4/8 - Echo Lake

4. Echo Lake - Echo Lake Lodge in background

5/7 - Brook Forest

5/7 Brook Forest Rd.


6. Woodland Park

6 - Woodland Park - Sign at Lions Park ok alternative.


Some Views En Route

Indian Peaks from Peak-to-Peak Highway


 Rampart Range with Evening Rainbow

8% Grade for 4 miles, into Deckers

Rampart Range - Morning

Descending to Buffalo Creek

South Platte River with Cathedral Rocks

- jle -