Unsupported Colorado Trail Race
Reading what Scott wrote in Stephan's thread, is this happening next year? I (for one) was planning a solo TT/unsupported trip on the whole CT with detours next summer. Scott/Mike C, are you guys already planning such a thing? Care to announce a date? I've been working out gear lists and planning sections. I've got the guide book and have scouted limited sections so far this year. I'm planning another scouting trip shortly to test some of my overnight gear. With detours it looks doable in a pretty short trip if you don't sleep much.
I have a feeling from what I've been reading in Dave's race thread and Stephan's that I'm not the only one plotting this...
Yes, it seems there is quite a bit of interest in a CTR.
Here's the way I see it: unsupported, end-to-end, with detours around wilderness areas and perhaps even a couple of the less rideable sections.
What? Did you read that right?
To me, the CT's unique characteristic is the rideability of the trail (compared to, say, another long distance trail in a certain state kiddie corner to it). I love hike-a-bike and brutal conditions as much as any good red-blooded mountain biker, but we have the AZT 300 and GLR to fill that need.
I'd love to do a long distance race, mostly on singletrack, and be able to ride it. I think we can do this on the CT.
Granted, I've only seen the first ~half of the trail. I was waiting until then to start talking about a race. No time like the present, though.
Questions that need to be answered:
Start date: I am no expert on high country Colorado weather and duration of monsoonal flow through CO. But to me there are a few options:
1) early. Try to avoid monsoons, but risk snow in places (San Juan's could be the killer)
2) during monsoon season. I ride with a lightning rod system, and who doesn't like charred, crispy flesh?
3) fall. Awesome colors, less storms, but lot's of night riding.
Route: The largest task to putting on a CT race is determining and precisely defining the race route. I have some thoughts on this, but won't know enough until seeing the rest of the route. Despite Stefan's interesting trip, I think it's clear that the race should be a mountain bike race that doesn't require massive support crews. So we need to detour around wilderness areas. Whether or not we want to detour around some of the hike-a-bike is up for debate.
To sum up, I'm willing to organize and put this on the calendar for '07. I think it could be one of the best events of this style. I do want to stress that the event would be run in the same style as the AZT 300, GLR and GDR. Self supported, no entry, no frills.
Best part is that there are some folks from Salt Lake that already make a winner's ring and all other manner of CTR branded merchandise. (Choose the Right)...
Monsoon season, you serious? Where is MC anyway, his truck has been on my street for weeks ;) Fall is high risk territory. It isn't uncommon to have a foot or better of snow anytime in September or after up in the high country. I'd think July 4 or thereabouts is ideal from a meteoroligical perspective. If it's a big snow year there will be snowfields to cross, but that's likely perferable to monsoons & snowstorms.
Originally Posted by Krein
FYI there's annual ride to Kennebec pass & down the CT, starting and finishing in Durango, each July 4. I've done them after big & small winters...after big winters it tends to be a bit marshy up top above timberline, but relatively manageable, especially for you hardcore freaks :D
Originally Posted by Krein
I'm for fall
Cuase i'll still be on the GDR in july :D
This is sounding very interesting
Man my blood is pumping just thinking about this race. I've wanted to do this all season and have saved enough vacation days for next year to be able to do it.
Timing wise: Make sure to read Stephan's report on his trip a couple years ago. He tried around July 4th and I mentioned that date to him as a possibility for me to do it and he thought it might be too early. They had a lot of snow still then. Monsoon season is somewhat unavoidable and boxed in by chances of snow on both ends.
Route: I'd say do the route with as much of the trail as possible and only the mandatory detours.
The C.T. passes near my house and I ride some part of the Georgia Pass to Gold Hill section nearly once a week. I have also thru-hiked the trail in 2000.
There would need to be mandatory detours around the Wilderness areas. The only logistical problem would be deciding which way to go for the "official" race route. Some detours have more options than others.
Aside from the Wilderness detours I would say keep everything else in it. Yeah you might have to hike some but the scenery is great and you'll more than likely be on singletrack. One persons nightmare is anothers dream. Besides the beauty of a race like this would be that it has a lot of singletrack.
So what do you think? 5 days? More, less?
It could be done in 4-5 days with sleep depervation...
Mabe faster.... Mike C might be able to do it in 3 :rolleyes:
I need to pick up the colorado trail book so I can figgure out the detours ect... not sure how many miles those add/ take away.....
As soon as I post this someone will go and prove me a fool but I think 4-5 days is a bit optimistic. I believe I know a guy who was winning a bunch of solo 24hr events on his SS who attempted a 6 day trek CT on multiple ocassions but never finished. I was looking at the salida Vapor Trail 125 event results from 2005 and Dave Weins time was 12+ hours range which would put you (actually him) at a theoretical four day CT journey, but that was a one day (sorta?) supported event. The CT has some incredibly difficult singletrack and it throws it at you day after day. Definitely an incredible ride. I would guess 6 minimum for a pro.
Stephen and I discussed that 4 days seemed possible. You have to approach this race with a very limited sleep mindset. VaporTrail is 125 miles in 12 hours, there's still 12 more hours in a day. Dave I have the guide book if you want to photocopy some pages. I'll bring just the pages we need for this weekend. It will be interesting to see how the trail looks at night :)
Well if you do it from Durango to Denver I will be waiting for you with a beer at waterton canyon at the end of day four. ;)
Great idea to all involved. Unsupported is the only way I'd get behind (and/or into) something like this. The trail (with bike detours) is so rideable and fun that I can't believe it'll be '07 before a true TT will have been run on it. I've owned the maps and guidebook since '95 and I'm embarrassed to say this is my first shot at the whole trail. I have no excuse--what about all of you? What have we all been doing with ourselves???
Originally Posted by Pivvay
Scott and I are looking at finishing up our thru-ride this week/end, weather permitting. During and after the ride we'll be discussing the detours. All input is welcome, of course.
The date is a toughy. No matter which date we pick, it'll never work with everyone's schedules, even if we announce it next week for a start date over 12 months away. Even more pressing is the weather/snowpack issue. Try as we all might, we have no clue what kind of snowpack we'll be looking at until ~3 weeks before the start of the event.
My cursory vote goes to a mid-July start. Monsoons 'typically' don't set up until late July (this July notwithstanding) and are preceded by weeks of high pressure. Daylight is also a big issue, and it'll be hard to beat mid-July. As I see it, going after the monsoons (~Sept 1st) is also a distinct possibility, but you're trading a few degrees of temperature and several hours of daylight for the chance that the weather will be more cooperative. The chance is good, albeit fickle.
It's all a gamble. What say ye?
I am getting the tingley feeling "down there" thinking about this. :ihih:
I better start sleeping with a plastic bag over my head to get ready for the altitude. :nono:
Keep this discussion going. The more "set in stone" this becomes the more I think I might show my corn-eat'n-ass up. :ciappa:
MikeC I think mid July might be the ticket although we'll not know for sure until we see the snow next year. Long days would be the best. I only want to carry so many batteries :)
I've planned a week for this next year and will be going no matter what. It would be fun to do a night start, especially Denver to Durango as the road from Waterton would make a really cool easy neutral zone and then let it go when the road turns up.
Jeff you should come out :) I'll see you at TIv3 and Moab(?) :thumbsup:
Start Date - as I've milled it over today, I'm starting to prefer a July start date also. The 4th it likely too early, as Stefan found in 2005. There's never enough daylight in these races, so I'm all for maximizing it. Unless someone can make a convincing snow-pack or monsoon argument, let's shoot for mid-July.
Route - A few votes for sticking with the trail as much as possible. Two years ago I would have voted the same. When I first toured the Arizona Trail I went to ridiculous lengths to stay on the trail, and I wouldn't change a thing, but the hike-a-bike was pretty unreal.
Maybe I'm getting soft in my young age, but I think the CT race will flow better and be more enjoyable if a few efforts are made to keep it reasonable. To those desiring hike-a-bike: have you ever raced 200+ miles of singletrack, carrying gear to eat/drink/sleep? The gear decreases what you can ride (and makes hike-a-bike harder) and racing (read getting tired) further decreases your ability to climb steep hills. What I'm saying is even portions of trail that seem just fine on an unloaded bike, on 8 hour legs can turn into hike-a-bike.
Just something to think about. For the Arizona Trail 300 I kept the route on the trail as much as I could. It made a great race, but there was a lot of walking involved. Not necessarily a bad thing...
Winning Time - Only one way to know...
My wild guess is that the winning time will be ~5 days. But it's really hard to tell, especially not having seen the second half. I'm no Pro and my time in the AZT 300 was 2.66 days. I could not have sustained that pace for 200 more miles (ha! hahaha!!), but even sticking with the CT, true-blue, I think the riding will be slightly easier/faster.
Opinions may change upon completion of the rest of the route...
What hike-a-bike sections are you refering to? As I recall from the newest book (got it a few months ago) most detours are mandatory because of wilderness areas. Obviously we would take those. Aside from those there are 1 or 2 other optional detours? My book isn't handy but those all seemed rideable to me from the description. Perhaps I should cross reference with Stephen's latest report. Water seems a lot more available than something like the Grand Loop and my camping gear doesn't weigh too much. We'll see if it's enough this weekend.
"seemed rideable" is the key phrase here. Remember the guidebook often calls rideable sections "too hard" and yet mentions nothing about how much hike-a-bike are on other sections. In short, don't trust the guidebook for any indication on how rideable the trail is.
Originally Posted by Pivvay
The climb up over the Ten Mile range (Breck->Copper Mtn) was largely a hike for Mike and I, and we had just rested ~12 hours and were not racing. It's beau-tee-full at the top, but you're up there for a few minutes before descending right back down, and so steeply that it's not much fun.
Many of the climbs out of drainages from Leadville->Salida are not rideable. They're not too long, though, and they lead to some very nice sections of trail.
Sargents Mesa, beyond Salida, is reportedly full of very poor trail. Rough and full of short, unrideable grunts. Nothing we can do about this one though.
Some of the more interesting questions of route are further south where I really can't comment. The Spring Creek Pass section is one. There's also a way to stay with more of the trail towards the La Garitas that Mike and I will probably check out.
Damn, it's still there? I was hoping someone woulda stolen it by now so I could collect a phat insurance check. That thing's gotta be worth hundreds...
Originally Posted by hairball_dh
Scott and I are looking at trying to finish it out this wknd. You around on Sunday?
I'd be very, very surprised if someone could break 5 days. Yes, minimal sleep is necessary, but without some recovery you'll be walking a bunch of otherwise rideable stuff. Walking = slow. More sleep = more recovery = more riding. There's a balance in there somewhere.
Originally Posted by Pivvay
Agreed. Anyone have a compelling reason to start on any certain day of the week? I'd vote mid-week to minimize traffic on the Denver end. That's the only place that traffic will really matter.
Originally Posted by Krein
This can't be overstated. How many steep climbs can you ride at the end of a 24 hour race? What about after 48? 72?? So far, Scott and I have toured the route, traveling light but taking our time, eating a lot, sleeping a lot, even getting a room and a shower a few times. Nonetheless, we've walked significant stretches and we're gonna walk a bunch more before it's over. If it were possible to do the whole trail (i.e. no wilderness detours) I'd be in favor of just calling it good at that. But since it's not, and since there are certain stretches that are primarily hike-a-bike and with easy alternatives, I'm gonna vote to include some of the alternates. Which ones? TBD.
To those desiring hike-a-bike: have you ever raced 200+ miles of singletrack, carrying gear to eat/drink/sleep? The gear decreases what you can ride (and makes hike-a-bike harder) and racing (read getting tired) further decreases your ability to climb steep hills. What I'm saying is even portions of trail that seem just fine on an unloaded bike, on 8 hour legs can turn into hike-a-bike.
This one is gonna be fun to hammer out. I feel compelled to ask if sleeping in my own bed is too much support, if I can ride there, I assume. This race will hit many a local.
Sharing tactics and making a hard ride "easier" will be needed for those of us who hope to finish. Am I at the mercy of joe`s garage food? Whatever I can ride too? This unsupported clause should include the Safeway in Leadville for a time trial split.
Have a start point at both ends. Mark the point, make a race in a race. Summer solstice unless it is a huge snow year, decide late winter, different every year. Vote.
One hour before sunrise for a start time.
Un-supported race on the CT...now we're talking.
This is exactly the type of race that I've been talking about and hoping to do in the next few years.
Can any of you recommend a book or series of maps that will help me get a grasp for the trail, detours, resupply points, etc.
Crap...I'm gonna have to buy a suspension fork.
For trail info the Official CT Guide Book is the definitive reference. There is also a set of topo maps available from the CT website built on the trail survey done by Bear Creek Survey. The GPS data from those is great but the maps and software are not my favorites. You can get the GPS data directly from the survey website and load them into any topo software or GPS device which is damn handy if you are into that sort of thing...
As for the trail the "descent" from Sargents Mesa to Colorado Hwy-114, segment 17, is pretty wicked. I have not seen the sections around Coney Summit but they will probably be difficult relative to the other sections. Most will have already seen the high altitude sections past Hotel Draw Road; I assume there will be plenty of walking there as well.
See the 'bear creek survey' gps stuff above. That's the best/easiest way, assuming you speak GPS. I'm barely fluent, but I can see the benefits. The official CT guidebook is helpful, albeit flawed in many respects.
Originally Posted by donkey
Never say die! I don't think it's necessary. Really. I've ridden with suspension on the ~350 miles I've done so far, but I don't think it's mandatory by any stretch. Especially if you're used to riding rigid.
Crap...I'm gonna have to buy a suspension fork. B
OK so maybe I got a little over excited. I see the points being made about the non mandatory detours. Not such a bad idea at all.
At this point is there a decision on mail resupply drops? Does this constitute support?
Also what tire pressure do you think is best for a race like this?
Just kidding on that last one.;)
Sleep deprivation, long distances, no support. This is starting to sound more and more like an Adventure Race, but with only biking.
You could also go the more AR type format in some sections and make checkpoints that the riders have to go through and let them choose the route, whether that be bike detour on road, dirt or pack up the bike and hoof it. Could add an exciting bit to it as well, the whole "Did someone pass me taking a different route?" aspect of things. You could do this on the areas where it's mandatory to detour and make it a possibilty on sections of the trail that are mostly hike-a-bike, all other times stick to the trail.
Not that I'm going to be participating next year but I think that would add some fun to developing strategies for the race.
To prove that someone was at the checkpoint everyone could have a disposable camera and take a picture of their bike at each checkpoint.