As I sit in my cozy little condo in Breckenridge, Brent Bookwalter, the BMC Racing Team and all the other racers in the Colorado Classic are riding through heavy rain and hail down in Colorado Springs — thanks to BMC soigneur (and Binge Sponsor) Tavis Cummings for this news as he works the feed zone near Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Up here in Breckenridge, we had thunder and rain last night, but I’m hoping today’s picture-perfect weather will hold for tomorrow.
Stage 2 of the Colorado Classic starts and finishes on Main Street in Breckenridge (elevation about 9,600′) tomorrow. The town is already full of cycling fans ready to watch the 64 mile stage tomorrow. The route consists of a 6.4 mile loop around the village…sounds idyllic, right? Let me give you the lowdown:
The stage begins in the exact center of town on Main Street, and quickly enters a residential area with lovely, historic homes and churches.
Then the race enters a newer residential area. The streets in this neighborhood will be closed for the entire day. BreckProCycling does a good job of placing signs to warn of the road closures well in advance of the race.
There are three speed bumps in the residential area of the route. Breckenridge marks speed bumps with signs, and for good measure also marks the pavement with “bicycle stamps” calling attention to the hazard.
The intersection of High Point Rd and Moonstone Rd is where the climbing begins. Just when you think “Okay, that wasn’t too bad.”, the mountain turns up even harder with a max grade of 12%.
When I rode the route today, the work to set up the KOM arch on Moonstone Rd was just beginning. A mountain bike trail intersects with Moonstone Rd just below the KOM point. Zoom in on the photo and you will see some special features that you may encounter along this trail.
But What’s It Like To Ride?
It’s difficult to describe just how hard it is to climb when your body has not fully acclimated to the effects of the altitude — this is roughly 10,000 ft. The first stage of the Colorado Classic (today) is in Colorado Springs, at 6,000 ft. At home, we ride in North Carolina at 2,500 ft and max out at 7,000 ft. This ride starts at 10,000 ft, and climbs 7,000 ft over 10 laps.
The burn is similar to lactic acid building up in your legs, but has the twist of feeling like there’s been some sort of power failure or electrical short in your body. When you see a race like this one and wonder how the riders climb such steep grades while racing, remember that the altitude is the invisible opponent that none of us can see.
You may want to put a high altitude ride on your epic rides list… we all deserve to know how this feels and to experience the awesome views.
I wasn’t the only cyclist testing her legs on the route this morning. I found these guys near the start of the steep section. They said that I could take their photo, but it would cost $25. I took the photo and took off without paying, but they stole the climb from me… I had to stop to take these photos, right? How else are you going to see this view?
The views near the top of the climb are stunning, and I am sure that the racers will be too focused on the stage results to see them. Notice that there is a touch of snow still hanging out on the mountaintops. I met a Breckenridge firefighter last evening, and he told me that the town only sees 30 days frost-free days a year.
The route loop finishes with a rip-roaring descent along Illinois Gulch back into the town center. The first time I rode the loop, the wind played havoc with me whipping me right and left on a whim. On my second and third passes, the wind was less of a factor and I was able to have a little more fun.
There is one super-sharp hairpin turn near the top of the descent, and the potential for gravel in the curves which could make this portion of the route very sketchy… especially if it rains.
This short, tough loop is going to be very challenging for the racers and a blast for the fans who will get to see the Women’s Race pass by 5 times and the Men’s Race pass by 10 times.
You can watch it on NBC Sports Gold, and live updates of the leaderboard here.
Come join us to cheer BMC, Brent, and all the other racers you support. David and I plan to set up somewhere along the Moonstone Rd climb, and serve Dynamite Roasting cold brew coffee and triple chocolate brownies to the fans. Look for the Velo Girl Rides Sprinter Van with the large yellow flower on the side, trailer and flying the Bookwalter Binge flags.
We also have awesome Binge swag, so stop by and snag some Bookwalter Binge gear.