Colorado Trail Race
July 2012 – 2014 – 2016
July 2012 – 2014 – 2016
July 2012 – 2014 – 2016/p>
First Attempt from Denver to Durango
The race is legendary in Colorado, and I was really excited to participate right in my own backyard. It’s 550 miles, following the Colorado trail as much as possible with a few detours around some wilderness areas.
After a good first day of over 100 miles, I took a 10 mile detour to Frisco for a hotel room. I got off to a nice morning with a big hike bike up and over into copper. I enjoyed a very civilized lunch, looking over the golf course, then went up Copper Mountain over to Camp Hale and on to Leadville. I arrived in Leadville late and managed to find a hotel but no food. I was feeling pretty good but I was going to be up early with the rough trail and having a heavy bike. Leaving Leadville was beautiful, climbing up and over the passes, Twin Lakes and continuing to Princeton Hot Springs. At this point, it was starting to become really difficult. I felt like I was pushing my bike more than I wanted to. The terrain was intense and I couldn’t stay on because of how bumpty it was. I ran into a fellow I had seen a few times, who shared some food with me. We were pushing our bikes together and I asked him how much more hike/bike there was. This was his fourth attempt and he was determined to make it alongside with me. Unfortunately I was already over it when he said that we had at least another half day of hiking. I decided to quit. I realized I was on the wrong bike, I had too much gear, it was too heavy to carry up and over obstacles. I was also very low on food and it was a long way to Silverton where I could resupply. I decided to give up and try again with different equipment and a better plan.
Attempt number two: Durango to Denver
Standing at the start line on Main St., Durango early in the morning, I felt good. This time I was ready; on my full suspension mountain bike with a backpack for my gear.
The race starts with a little bend at the top then head straight up into the the high mountains. The goal is to get through Silverton before it shuts down for the night, so it was a long push of a day. I make it to Silverton after the stores closed, but there was a restaurant open for a burger and a sandwich that I took with me. I headed off into the dark huge climb, planning to go all night. I keep going through the dark, way up in the mountains. Eventually early in the morning I had to stop and take a short nap. The views are incredible. I honestly didn’t sleep much at all during this ride. I slept a few hours over the whole time, maybe 10-15 hours total. I don’t advice this as I felt horrible toward the end.
I was feeling pretty good but I was going to be up early with the rough trail and having a heavy bike. Leaving Leadville was beautiful, climbing up and over the passes, Twin Lakes and continuing to Princeton Hot Springs. At this point, it was starting to become really difficult.
I hadn’t seen anybody for hours, so I just kept plodding along the trail. The bike was awesome and this time I was fully riding, over a lot of stuff that I had to walk the last time. Then some trail magic* where I found a tent supplied with all kinds of food and drinks. It was such a relief I end up sleeping a few hours. The I headed into Seargant’s Mesa which is the area where I quit last time. I was able to ride a lot of the really rough terrain. It wasn’t exactly steep, just super bumpy. I seemed to get through this section a lot quicker than last time. I finally arrived in Princeton Hot Springs with a restaurant and some food. Things were going pretty well, I was back on familiar trails the next two days. I passed from Leadville into Copper and then I was on the home stretch. With about 50 miles to go, I started to really struggle. I was struggling to find water. I’d been trying to fill up just on high mountains but I was down I’m down on the Front Range and every opportunity I saw the water looks terrible so I keep going really struggling running low on water and food. Finally I got to Deer Creek which was flowing strong. I resupplied and only had one more push up and over a small climb. Then, the 10 mile dirt road to the finish line. This was agony, my body had just given up but I made it 5 ½ days. Finishing was a huge achievement. I finished without anyone knowing and without anyone there. I fell to the ground in the car park, at the finish line, wondering how I was going to get home and so relieved to finished.
Attempt Number Three: Denver to Durango
I wanted to finish going North/South on this ride. Using my knowledge from the previous two rides, I was ready to start. The goal was just to finish going south and not try and beat my time of five and half days. I was again using a full suspension bike, had a little bit gear and a backpack and better stuff for sleeping.
The route had changed a little bit from the previous time, which included a longer detour section at the beginning. I managed to make it over hundred miles and decided to stop at the top of Kenosha Pass. Using my new hammock and bivi bag (waterproof sleeping bag). The next day was a lot more fun, more singletrack and lots of views. I met few of the riders and made some friends along the trail. I made it to Copper Mountain early afternoon for some good food in a restaurant and a resupply, heading up Copper Mountain and finding a good spot to camp for the night. I organized early, trying to finish climbing over Copper Mountain and then the fun decent to Camp Hale. I was feeling good and the ride was going well. I then made it to Leadville with some more good food. The trail then goes up and over the lower slopes of Mount Albert down into Twin Lakes where I had another good meal, making the most of the restaurants along the way. From Twin Lakes there is a really fun section, fairly flat around the lakes before heading up another climb and into a descent into Princeton Hot Springs. After that there is a big section without services, so I was hoping to have enough food heading off towards Sgts. Mesa. This section went well, nothing like my first attempt. The bike made all the difference, and so did my planning. This is when I started a new strategy, sleep good and ride fast.
I finally found the magic tent that saved me from the year before, this time there was a lot more people in front of me and all the snacks had gone. After a few nights in the bivi I decided I was going to get a hotel room in Silverton. The ride proved to be a lot harder than I was expecting. The distance seemed different than coming north. I think it was because when you’re riding south you’re doing the hardest section last. I was expecting the downhill to Silverton, it just never came. It seemed to keep zigzagging across the top of the peaks. It was late and dark when I finally arrived. I was super hungry and really tired and got incredibly cold on the way down. I found a room in the hostel and had a good night sleep. The woman there was super friendly and helpful, and hooked me up with a bunch of snacks. In the morning I had a good breakfast and I knew I had one day last to the finish line. The day involved a lot of climbing, then towards the top just before it was getting dark there was quite a bit of hiking and very loose trail gravel. The rock was slippery and the road was steep. I finally made it over the top with a steep and scary downhill. Finally I start catching other riders on the final descent. I was happy to move forward, but I also just wanted to finish. I was pushing hard and there was a good fast section and then another climb. I was overtaking riders this whole time, my sleep plan was actually working. It felt like forever to get to the finish but finally I was at the top of the climb. It was all downhill and I knew it was close, but it just seemed to go on and on forever. It would’ve been so much fun if I wasn’t exhausted and just wanting it to end. Finally making it to the finish line, I think I overtook seven people in those last few hours. It was great to finish with other people around. Leo came to pick me and we had some pizza and beer with a few other finishers. We shared a few quick stories and that everyone headed to bed.
*The rules of the race are that have to carry your own gear or stop only at places where others can buy the same thing. Trail magic is a racing tradition where people leave out stocked tents, coolers, etc for the racers. It’s a true gift from people who support the race!