Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cheer and Camaraderie on the Cripple Creek 300k!

The third edition of Vernon Smith's Cripple Creek - Pine Junction 300k may have been the most felicitous yet.  Great temps, fine sunny weather, reasonable traffic, and good companionship made for a great ride!
I'll let Vernon take it from here ...
The Colorado Springs 300km Brevet goes downhill for 16,800 feet!
A Colorado 300km brevet with 16,800 feet of downhill! Sounds easy until you realize it also has 16,800 feet of climbing. That’s why we start this 300km brevet at 4:00 AM. It simply takes a little longer. If you want a fast 300km time then this isn’t the brevet for you. If however you crave lots of climbing and outstanding Colorado scenery, then this is for you.

Catherine, Paul and I stuck together for most of the 300km and always left the controls at the same time. We finished together at 8:01 PM for a 16:01 (hrs:min) time after taking a bit longer detour through Garden of the Gods Park at a magical time of the evening.

The weather was just about perfect. Knee warmers, arm warmers and vest to the top of Ute Pass (9,165 feet) worked well for me. Then add gloves for the typically very cold Twin Rocks Road/CR 1 section to Cripple Creek. Then might as well keep them on for the descent from top of the Cripple Creek hill (over 10,000 feet) to Divide. Then you can shed some clothes for the section down to Deckers (5,600 feet) and then the two significant climbs out of Deckers to Pine Junction. More climbs and descents back to Deckers and Woodland Park.

As Vernon says, the chilly temps are front-loaded on this route, continuing through Cripple Creek, as you keep climbing higher and higher to escape any balmy air. 
But as things finally warm up, the climbing continues.  Here are Vernon and Paul on that second leg - out to Pine Junction, with Pikes Peak looming as it does for so much of this route.

Catherine and Vernon seem happy with the West Creek and Deckers climbs to look forward to ...

Vernon closes with these thoughts ...
We left Woodland Park (8,200 feet) around 6:30 PM so I put jacket, vest, gloves and skull cap on to stay warm until the lowlands of Colorado Springs (6,400 feet).
I know more riders could complete the brevet if they were willing to drive from Denver and spend a longer than usual time in the saddle for a 300km brevet. But on a day like we had, it is well worth it.
I pre-rode Vernon's CC 300k last spring and heartily agree!  There is some work involved, but it is an enthralling ride.  Something for your list next season?

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