Wednesday, May 30, 2012

going farther...

Last weekend I didn't get to scope the full route for R2G2 due to some mechanical issues in the car. But I did get to scope the first leg - it's pretty damn awesome and I'm very excited about it. I've thought of doing a shorter version to attract more folks, but with Dirty Kanza coming up I had another idea, and I'd love some feedback.

The gravel race scene is exploding. There must be over 100 events now. The thing is, most of them are in the Midwest and remarkably similar in style and length. I love riding among the cows and farms, but the stuff I saw on the SPDF and in my R2G2 scouting trip is radically different; it's really something special. I'm also seeing that big and gonzo attracts a certain crowd, but those events with the most mystique are in Kansas/Iowa/Minnesota. Why not have something truly incredible here? Something that's an enormous challenge. Something very different from the gravel on DK200, Almanzo, Trans Iowa etc. Something that's worthy of the name "epic" - a true test of endurance that will attract a wider crowd willing to test their mettle. It's not to say that these events aren't great, but the point is rather to say, "Hey, thanks for the inspiration. You've got some great stuff there. We do too, and it's pretty different. Are you up to testing yourself on our alpine gravel?"

Right now the R2G2 is 170 miles, which is a big day. But for some reason we're attracted to numbers and 200 has a more worthy sound to it. Add in that it would be mostly over 8000ft and include probably around 18k of gain and the list of folks for whom this is a reasonable route dwindles; for the rest of us this would be a massive challenge.

 To this end I present the routes I've developed:

Elevation Gain*
Rampart 200
Rampart 170
Rampart 140
*all of these are likely UNDER estimated. 

These are all solid. Barring a forest fire they are all on open, maintained roads. I am trying to contact some private land owners so that I can run the route past the Bucksnort Saloon, which is simply a cool place along a pretty amazing road. I'm not sure if this year is or is not the best time to do this. I'd do the 200 starting at 4am and expect to finish around midnight (my own personal time estimate) - that's a lot of night riding in late September. End of June might be preferred. Of course late Sep means all the Aspen are changing (bonus) and the dark would add to the challenge - a la Vaportrail 125. This could go under the Endurance series heading, but I could see this also being something a bit different at some point. I'd also kinda want to change the name a bit. Something that throws down the gauntlet. Perhaps the Rocky Mountain High Gravel Challenge. One option is to have all these as options - another is to only have the 200 (my preference). 

So this is where my brain is going... Any thoughts, opinions? Think I'd get folks to do this? September vs June? Do it this year? 


  1. Shane- I'll throw in my $0.02 on this. I have never done the DK200 but know a bunch of folks that have. To me, it is not super appealing; the heat/humidity/drive/terrain just don't sound like anything I really want to do, but then again I would like to, (someday) say yeah, I went there and did it... because it is the longest ride that I know of in the gravel grinder arena.

    I thought about making the SPDF a 200 mile event, but I am not going to do that. I like it as it is, although I will also add a 100 mile route to next years 150 mile route. I think you could easily make the R2G2 a 200 mile course and it could be super sweet.
    At the risk of being labeled a "hater"- I think if I ever decied to do a 200 mile gravel ride I would much rather do it somewhere with amazing scenery like Colorado than out on the hot humid plains.
    I think that the timing might be better in the middle of the summer for a few reasons. The weekend after the R2G2 is the CB100 and I don't think I should, (or could)do it after riding a 200 mile gravel grinder the weekend before. I am going to come out to the R2G2, but I don't think I'll go for the full meal deal, so to speak as I want to better my time on the cb100 from last year, (step 1 is to not lose an hour to a mechanical issue). I'll put together something around 100 miles for my "R2G2 lite"

    In the summer means more daylight and much warmer at night. I remember freezing my ass off on some night rides. As in wanting to bring a down jacket with me, ice in the water bottles freezing cold.

    The course is looking sweet and I want to get out there and check out some of the area as it will be new to me. The only real questions I have are about places to re-supply.


    1. Thanks Brian! I really appreciate the opinion. Good question about resupply. I've made a deliberate effort to have both resupply points and bail options. There are dozens of places to bail so I won't describe those. But for resupply there's a fairly long list. There are stores in Buffalo Creek, Lake George, Florissant, Divide, Pine, and obviously Woodland Park. Deckers has good stuff, but it's just off route (unless you bail). In addition there are liquid supply options at the Sprucewood tavern and Bucksnort Saloon. There are unconfirmed seasonal services at Wellington Lake, Cheesman Res, and I'm hoping there might be at least water in Westcreek.

  2. It's tough. The 200 does naturally reduce the herd. But, like Brian said...there is more of an attraction to come to Colorado than the hot, humid plains.

    I think it goes back to the question you posed to Zandrrrrrrrrrrrr...what are the intentions with the event. If the intentions are to draw more of crowd and make it an actual event, then it's 1)get the town involved 2) sponsors 3)prizes 4)aid and throw down the challenge - call it - DKiMB (DK is my bitch)with the tagline "There are 20,000 reasons that you won't finish." Do it sometime during the summer.

    If the intention is to just make it an event with maps and a tough ride with some people, throw out a couple different distances so everyone can join. Then do it whenever it can fit in the ever-expanding schedule.

    1. DKiMB Ha! Love it. And I'm completely stealing that 20k line (with attribution of course).
      Good question too. I think for now with the other stuff going on I'm more interested in making an awesome ride. I'm thinking this year keep it as is, and depending on how it goes I'll consider the former option next year. That would give time to reschedule for late June and consider sponsors and outside involvement. I may however do the route as an ITT then follow your lead in not actually doing the R2G2 event...this year.

  3. yep, steal the 20k all you want.
    I'm doing the Pisgah Stage Race Sept 17-22, so I'll join you for the ITT plenty of time before or after that.

    May be a plan to just get a group this year to try it out and crank it up for next year July/August timeframe.

  4. Personally, at this point in my life riding 200 miles on gravel and riding in the dark (which would be required for my slow ass) do not appeal to me at all. 100, yes. 150, possibly. 200, pass. Same for night events and 24 hour races. Once I make my way further down the rabbit hole this may change, but for now I'm more interested in conquering hundos.

    I know we all have a tendency to want to go farther and do more but 200 miles and 18k feet just doesn't sound fun to me. (Key word being "me." I'm sure there are many people to whom it would be appealing.)

    1. Thanks man. The idea of whether this stuff is "fun" is a whole can of blog fodder. Asked if I had fun at the AntiEpic inspired a decent conversation. Roller coasters are fun, a sweet flowy singletrack descent is fun, but 200 miles of bumpy gravel? Well, you get something out of it (self knowledge, challenge, saddle sores) but "fun"...only in the masochistic XXC fun hurts sort of way. (which reminds of a Portland based team called team S&M!)