I've studied hard about how to ride up Pikes Peak over the last few years. Bikes are banned on the toll road. Others have ridden up via Barr Trail. Manitou Springs to summit gains over 7000ft. Much of the lower portion of Barr Trail is rideable. A lengthy section up top looks completely unrideable. The biggest challenge riding up Barr Trail would be water. It would probably take more hours than my water supply would last.
The auto road up Pikes Peak has a long history. At one time, it nearly became abandoned until the city of Manitou Springs took over ownership and maintenance of the road. Bicycles have never been allowed on the toll road in recent history. Until now. Registration was limited to 1500 riders. I expected at least a thousand to sign up. As of pre-reg closing, only 280 signed up. This could be a one-time opportunity. The course will actually climb a closed lane of US-24 from Manitou Springs before picking up the toll road. There will be four aid stations along the way. It is timed, but "not a race." I do not plan to race it. In fact, I will take pictures on the way up so I can enjoy an uninterrupted 24 mile descent.
Pikes Peak hillclimb route
Tom will be loaning me a CX bike with road tires and climbing gears. I think most riders will find Pikes Peak much more challenging than Mt Evans. For one, there is a 3000ft vertical section at 10% grade above 10,000ft. A good chunk of this is gravel too. That's like an Alpe d'Huez, except a lot steeper, in rarefied air, after you've been climbing continuously for 1-2hrs. Fun stuff.
The climb doesn't really start until 14 miles in.
I've been going back to Colorado nearly every year since first heading there to ride in 2005. I always go with a mountain bike. Most of the trips have been solo. After Pikes Peak, I plan to stay in Gunnison, which is a cheap place to stay near Crested Butte. Some of the rides I have planned are Monarch Crest via Old Monarch Pass Rd and Agate Creek Trail (an all dirt variant of the Salida side loop). Another ride is a triple-pass loop between Crested Butte and Aspen, hitting Pearl Pass, Taylor Pass and Star Pass with a great singletrack descent back down. Nearly all of this ride hovers in the 10,000ft to 13,000ft range. I'm toying with bagging another 14er on this ride, ditching the bike at Pearl Pass and hiking up Crystal Peak. It would be a very long day. Water would be a problem, but there is plenty up there and I'll be bringing iodine tablets along. I will have to hit Trail 401 in Crested Butte again. Like Monarch Crest, it is one of my favorites. I will take a different way to get to it this time, going through Paradise Basin.
The Pearl/Taylor/Star loop. Mt Crested Butte is in upper left.
My fitness isn't quite back to where I was this spring, but I'm starting to feel more like myself again. On a training ride Tuesday, I hit a hill I loosely benchmark myself on. I say loosely, as I never go to Pead Hill with fresh legs. My PR from 2008 was on a Tuesday after the Battenkill race. This year, I hit Pead Hill after D2R2. Kind of apples to apples I'd say. Anyway, my best was 7:00 minutes even. This week I was 7:20. I've been much slower on it. I've run a PowerTap up Pead before. Hard to say what 7:20 translates to, but I'd guess around 390W. This wouldn't win any hilly masters races at my weight, but getting within striking distance. I was quite happy with the progress.
Hope to repeat week 12 (Arizona with Dave) while in
Colorado next week.
Last week was my highest cycling volume week of the summer. Pretty easy to do when one ride gives 8hrs. Normally I'm more focused on racing this time of year. I'm not sure what a coach would have me do, but I'm pretty sure after such a long forced break, a lot of volume would be prescribed. After Colorado, I think I will focus more on intensity in preparation for the Ironcross race in October. It will be interesting to see if I can return to competitive form by then.