Good place to ride west of Denver, CO to practice climbing at elevation? Idaho Springs/Mt. Evans?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Cat5Hurricane, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Cat5Hurricane

    Cat5Hurricane New Member

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    My brother in law and I are doing the Copper Triangle Aug. 6th. We were going to head out to Colorado Wednesday prior and wanted to find a good place to ride Thursday and Friday mornings for a few hours to acclimate to the elevation and just get some riding in acclimate to climbing at elevation. He and my sister are staying with some friends in SE Denver. Since he doesn't want to drive 70 miles each day to Copper Triangle to ride and I don't want to have to drive 70 miles to Denver to take my wife on the "touristy" things during the afternoon and evening, I was trying to find a something literally just 5-20 miles west of Denver (we will stay at Copper Triangle hotel the night before and i will find a hotel in Denver or just west the couple of nights before). Idaho Springs looked like a good place and with Mt. Evans, that may be a fun place to ride. Does anyone have any good suggestions who are familiar with the area? My guess is 30-50 mile training rides with some good climbing (and then the ever fun descent back to the cars) and relatively safe to cycle. I heard that Colorado is pretty biker friendly so probably not an issue. Thanks!
     
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  2. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Not sure where you are originating from, but Mt. Evans seems a little like jumping in the deep end rather than dipping a toe in the water (if you're planning to scale the summit - 14k). You'll start around 8,000 feet from I-Springs. If you're fit and ready to roll, then give it a go. If you're not, you'll stress your system and possibly be on the ropes for the CT. The nice thing about Evans is that it is usually cool and if you decide the summit is more than you want to bite off, you just turn around and go down. Sometimes auto traffic can be heavy and tourist driving unpredictable so you have to be attentive. If you primarily just want to spend some time at altitude (up to 14K), then Evans is probably what you're looking for.

    It's been years since I rode a bike in CO, but some very nice ridding around Morrison - Evergreen- Genessee and is in keeping with a relatively close proximity to SE Denver (15-20 miles). Hampden/285 west is pretty much a straight shot. I think Evergreen is around 7K. I'll leave it to someone with more recent experience riding the area, but I think you could easily find some low traffic/scenic routes that accumulate 2,500 - 4,000+ feet of climbing over 20-30 miles in that area.. Cabrini Shrine/Look Out Mountain is in the same area (foothills) and is kind of a tradition, but you won't go over 8K ft. Maybe 3,500 climbing for the loop.

    Better accommodations and activities in Evergreen/Lakewood/Golden/JeffCo area than Idaho Springs - may have a happier wife that way?? :) I-Springs is pretty basic.
     
  3. Cat5Hurricane

    Cat5Hurricane New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I just chose the Idaho Springs area because looking at the terrain function on google maps, it looked fun (in a sick kind of way). Then on a ride yesterday, someone was talking about Mt. Evans. I would just like to go where there are some good 5-10 mile climbs intersperced with some recovery terrain with a few places with some nice grade climbs. My goal is to try to acclimate the body to the dry, cool, high elevations of Colorado mountains in preparation for CT. As I was saying, we will probably do 30-50 mile "fun" rides (depends on how much climbing is involved and how the body holds up). The goal isn't to push ourselves but to try to acclimate and shock the muscles to start preparing for the longer ride Saturday. The strategy I saw with Mt. Evans was using this to prep so that when we did CT 2000-3000 ft lower in elevation, it wouldn't seem as bad. Of course, 6000 ft of climbing may not be the best way to start off either...at least if it is all up and offers no place to recover. I honestly have no idea.

    The Morrison - Evergreen- Genessee option looks good too. I just don't know the area and I would ideally like to be in a place where we can ride two abreast instead of single file (though that isn't a big issue, just a preference). I would trust your opinion over my "flip a coin" guessimate. My brother in law and sister will be staying in Parker, CO so he didn't want to drive 70 miles to CT just to train with me. He is okay driving ~30 miles to meet up with me somewhere and start riding 7-8ish AM so we are done around noon. I don't mind staying in Denver because the wife will want to go shopping and site-seeing so either way, I will be heading downtown each afternoon. Friday night, we will get something in CT area and my brother in law will share something so we can wake up and just be on site. I just want something that simulates the conditions we will be riding and fairly bike friendly so maybe we see others on the road. I always climb better if I see someone else ahead of me. I think getting in the 10,000+ foot elevation would also be ideal since the ride spends a lot of time at this elevation. Thoughts? Thanks again for the response!
     
  4. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Deer Creek Canyon has a 20 mile loop. 3000' of climbing over 10 miles going up. Then you get to go down.

    Left Hand Canyon is out and back 3000' of climbing to a store. Then you get to go down.

    Both routes have a reasonable amount of bicycling traffic. (Guys much stronger than me.) Not much motor traffic on the days I was there. Google search will provide maps.

    ----

    Even Rocky Mountain National Park has a nice climb. Don't know about the traffic. I would suggest that you pick a road on a state map. Drive to it and park. Get your bike out and ride.
     
  5. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    A couple of things you might be interested in:

    Accomodations: http://www.qualityinn.com/hotel-evergreen-colorado-CO129

    Golden, CO has more choice for accomodations - at the upper end the historic Golden Hotel and a Marriott. Midrange Courtyard, etc. And a number of B&B's that are pretty hit and miss - I've tried a couple when visiting relatives ... wouldn't do again. Depends on what you're looking for. The Lakewood area to the east is generic suburbia and you'll find a number of accomodations there as well.

    Training Route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/93600655

    You can use the garmin connect site to search for other routes in the area- will give you some idea of elevation as measured by garmin devices. Good starting point locations would be Golden, Evergreen, Morrison, Genessee. This route that encompasses Bergin Park to Echo lake is somewhat of a less traveled route - especially weekdays. So much has changed with the area that I can't tell you if you'll find 103 to be a 2-abreast ride or a speedway. Gut says relatively quiet, but best to keep asking around. Old Guy's suggestion for Deer Creek is another nice scenic ride with ups and downs. It was THE way to the mountains in the old days before I-70 - but in more recent times it became pretty congested with drive-to hiking/biking/camping/kayaking/sight-seeing/etc. traffic. Again, a weekend thing more than mid week.

    Wish I could give you a "gotta do" route, but that's about all I've got. Too many years have gone bye. :)
     
  6. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    P.S. my suggestion is go easy on the altitude thing. It takes time 2-4 days for the body to manufacture the oxygen carrying components you need to carry more oxygen in your system. Pounding out miles at altitude doesn't really help all that much day1/day2 and can burn yourself out pretty quick. Really important to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest ... and go easy on the alcohol.

    Like bench pressing, having someone help you lift 500lbs just to see what it feels like isn't going to make 425 seem any easier if your all time max is 285. I'd go easy Thur/Fri and save what you got for the CT. Two days before the event, "training" is basically over and you want to peak during the main event.
     
  7. Cat5Hurricane

    Cat5Hurricane New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by An old Guy .

    Deer Creek Canyon has a 20 mile loop. 3000' of climbing over 10 miles going up. Then you get to go down.

    Left Hand Canyon is out and back 3000' of climbing to a store. Then you get to go down.

    Both routes have a reasonable amount of bicycling traffic. (Guys much stronger than me.) Not much motor traffic on the days I was there. Google search will provide maps.

    ----

    Even Rocky Mountain National Park has a nice climb. Don't know about the traffic. I would suggest that you pick a road on a state map. Drive to it and park. Get your bike out and ride.


    Excellent...I will look into these. These sound ideal! Thanks!


    Thanks also! Do the roads tend to be the nice smooth black asphalt or the rough asphalt roads that look like they are about 30+ years old? It seems the consensus so far has been the Golden, Evergreen, Morrison, Genessee areas which is somewhat ideal for getting into Denver for the tourist stuff and being close enough to the mountains for climbing. I think this is likely where I end up the first couple of days there. I will check that garmin route as well.


    The good news...I don't drink so the alcohol won't be an issue. The bad news is my best bench is 335lbs so I am far off from 425 or 500. :p The thing is I do want to get some riding in those couple of days before the ride. I wanted to do 50, my brother in law is thinking more like 20-30. More than likely we compromise in the 30-40 range. That is why some of those suggestions by An Old Guy seem pretty good! My thoughts are that if you spend 15-20 miles going up, the rest is literally just coasting so I don't really think of it as 30-40 miles. I do want to follow up with your comment. What do you mean by "pounding out miles at altitude"? Do you mean riding in general or pushing yourself at that ~90% threshhold? Do you think we shouldn't do any riding at altitude or are you suggesting to stay conservative on the miles? My thoughts were to just have some fun rides Thursday and Friday morning. I really like the thought of trying Mt. Evans. Obviously my B-I-L isn't going to do 50 miles of that. I found a park about 15 miles away with 3561 feet of climbing in that span and those switchbacks at the end are what I really am excited to try. The return 15 miles would be all downhill so would that be really hard on the body if we just went at it with a decent, but easy pace? So what in your opinion is on that and would it be better to do that Thursday or Friday? I am thinking Thursday with a recovery ride on Friday such as the one An Old Guy suggested!
     
  8. Not Sure

    Not Sure New Member

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    The wife. The brother. The timing of "adjustment to elevation"...

    The Deer Creek Challenge Meet Up Training Group does have a sweet training ride route, but,
    you have a lot more pressing impedements than adjustment to elevation.

    Unless you're in a barometric tent or pressurized dome, adjustment to elevation will take place as you lIve AT elevation.
    I'd expect it to be happening for at least one week, after you begin to bE at elevation.

    If you don't have the legs for your chosen event by one week in advance of it,
    you're not likely to make any head way toward having them before the event.

    Take some supplements like Nitro Gainer or No Explode to compensate for it.
    JUST KIDDING!

    Make sure you stay hydrated and eat a lot of complex carbs the day before. Like, 300 calories/ hour, above what you'd normally eat,
    for every hour you expect to be on the bike.

    And don't go too hard at any given time. Once you blow up, its difficult to stick your guts back in and finish.
     
  9. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    So the bench press analogy my not have been terribly relevant. I think I had a legal (no arch) of 385 back in college days - so no 500 for me either. :) The point I wanted to make was that when it comes to altitude acclimation the idea of a little being good, so a lot must be better isn't the way you want to approach it, Acclimating in stages is the ideal ... but you don't have time to do that. Pedaling up to 14,000 feet the day after you arrive is risky. You'll work hard, even it you're not trying to. Mt. Evans (and the garmin ride I highlighted) are basically 100% climb until you turn around to come back. If you induce light/mild altitude sickness, you'll be weak, nauseous and maybe have a pounding headache that takes a day or two to get rid of. If your body reacts more violently to being pushed at altitude (lower atm pressure) by dilating blood vessels causing fluid to seep into your lungs, then you're cooked and won't be participating in the CT. Symptoms can take a day or two to present.

    I don't know your fitness or your history with altitude and sustained mountain climbs, but guessing from your original post that altitude/sustained climbing is new. So just offering generic suggestions. Typically when planning for a key event, there's a taper period leading up to the final week, and then some light cycling during the week of the event. Usually laying off the day or two before.

    If 80-100 miles with a reasonable amount of climb relative to the CT is no big deal for you, then your biggest concern is really altitude. So a couple of light rides at 7k-10k could be a start to acclimating. I'm just saying 20-25 mile climb at high altitude (especially above 10k) isn't "light" because your system is going to be challenged even if you're backing off of your typical training effort. Your main event is less than 80 miles and you're thinking about a fun ride that is 60%+ of that. Maybe at less intensity, but you're proposing an altitude challenge and sustained climbing challenge which may or may not make it a light ride. Depends on your fitness level at the time.

    Just thoughts based on knowing the terrain you'll be covering and the effort needed. Not worth much more that what you're paying for the info. :) Good luck and have fun!
     
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