Sunday, December 18, 2011

Creekside Lite

The Creekside Dirty Century is one of few gravel grinders in Colorado. From what I’ve gathered the Century is hosted by Creekside Bikes in Parker, and has been run in ’09, ’10, and ’11. There are few photos on the event site and it seems that it’s pretty low key. Here’s the original route map courtesy of Colorado Dirt Road Randonneur. The route begins and ends on the Cherry Creek Trail which I elected to skip to do a bit shorter route.

I parked in Franktown and picked up the route as it goes through Castelwood Canyon State Park. The Canyon normally requires a permit if you're there to hike, climb or ride on the trails. There happened to be a ranger at the fee kiosk when I rolled up, so when I asked I got the official word that bikes roll free. Woo hoo! The Canyon is brief, but beautiful.
The old dam at Castlewood Canyon

After leaving the canyon the route winds around through back roads eventually passing through Larkspur at about 20 miles. I didn’t take the opportunity, but Larkspur offers several options for refueling.  The Larkspur Pizzeria and Café might not be a bad option if you choose a route that begins and ends here.

After Larkspur the route misses any options for stores, but continues to pass through some amazing and scenic landscape. This is one of the best gravel routes I’ve ridden on the Front Range to date. The roads were in great shape. Several sections of washboard and pure loose gravel peppered the route, but fortunately they didn’t last long.  Most of the surface (at this time) was light gravel on hardpack dirt.
The course had very few flat sections. Overall the course was filled with rolling hills that provided about 4200 feet of elevation gain. There are few treed sections of the route leaving sweeping scenic vistas including quite a few old barns. Of course, the ride would be quite different story on a windy day.

The washboard and rollers are both apparent here.


  1. Shane, Really cool to see found a ride on my blog and made a day of it, you picked the best section of the dirty century for sure. Great write up! Thanks for sharing and keeping a great route alive!

  2. Thanks Eric! I had intended to follow another of your mapped rides and do a big chunk of the cowboy cobble today. The snow seems to have other plans for me though.

  3. The cowboy cobble is one of my favorite rides, Elbert county has some of the best dirt roads in the state. If you don't have any ride plans for New Years day there is a good size group riding from Creekside Bikes that morning. I'll be there at 9:30 for a 10:00 departure. It's only 40 miles so I'm bringing my fixed gear, as will a couple other guys. This is my group of friends the put on the dirty century and the cowboy cobble... Hope you can make it! Eric

  4. Thanks Eric. This is my easy riding week so 40 sounds perfect! Count me in. Only question is bike/tire selection. Paved? Gravel? Do you know the route? S

  5. Awesome, glad to have you! This will be a large group ride, probably 20 or so guys, not to fast. All on a decent paved road and most guys will be on road bikes. I'll be riding my single speed road bike for this one. With the miles you've been riding you could keep up with this group on anything you decide to ride. It's Creekside bikes in Parker, Kirk has a website under that name as well. See you Sunday morning!

  6. Hey Shane,

    if you are interested I can take show you around Elbert County. It's gonna snow this weekend, so perhaps the week of January 21st-22. We can ride from Elizabeth or Elbert. It was good to meet you yesterday.

    Eric Miller

  7. Hi Eric - Thanks for the invite! I won't be able to get down there next weekend, but I am planning to do a 4 1/2 to 5 hour ride on Saturday out there. I'd love to have you join for part or all of that. If you're game just let me know.