by ALP Coach Patricia Schwager
This blog is about the inaugural ALP Cycles Tour of Colorado - Big Mountain Passes. Our first Tour of Colorado was limited to 3 days of riding big mountain passes through beautiful scenery.
The staff included coaches Alison and Paddy plus van driver Kristen. We traveled together to the tour start in Carbondale. We stopped on the way for some big Costco shopping. The van got loaded with lots of ride snacks and food. Cyclists eat a lot especially as we would spend 5-6hrs riding our bikes every day. In the evening we met with our 19 athletes and gave them instructions and info for the next 3 days. For each of the 3 days we handed out route cards to make sure everyone knew the directions.
Day 1: Carbondale - McClure Pass - Kebler Pass - Crested Butte Mountain Resort 77,5mi and 7570ft of climbing
The first day wasn't the longest day but it included the most amount of climbing. We started the ride in 2 groups; a slower group and a faster group. The van stop to refill bottles and grab more ride food was at the bottom of Kebler Pass. The heat was a big challenge today....we went through a lot of water. The 23,5mi climb up Kebler Pass on gravel roads was tough for everyone, which wasn't surprising because Kebler Pass was the longest climb of our tour. After the nice descent down to Crested Butte we still had to climb up to Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The wine, crackers and cheese we offered before dinner was well deserved!
Day 2: Crested Butte Mountain Resort - Cottonwood Pass - Buena Vista 71,0mi and 4988ft of climbing
After the experience from the day before, we decided to ride in 3 different groups today. The ride started with a nice downhill to Crested Butte. The route then followed Taylor River up to Taylor Park Reservoir. That was also our van stop and turn off up to Cottonwood Pass. The road up to Cottonwood Pass was again a gravel road but with 13,5mi it felt a lot shorter than the long climb the day before. Upcoming thunderstorms and strong side winds made the 2nd part of the downhill to Buena Vista tricky. Everyone made it safe and sound to the hotel though. We finished the day with more wine, crackers and cheese followed by a nice Thai/ Sushi dinner.
Day 3: Buena Vista - Independence Pass - Carbondale 91,2mi and 5114ft of climbing
This was the longest day of riding. We again had 3 groups (slow, medium, fast) to make sure that everyone found a good pace. A challenge was the strong headwind from Buena Vista all the way up to the turn off to Twin Lakes/ Independence Pass. The weather on top of Independence Pass wasn't great, clouds and rain reminded us why we had those rain jackets in the van. The long descent down to Aspen was fun; some parts are very fast, narrow and technical. We used the Rio Grande Trail (bike path) for the final stretch from Aspen to Carbondale. Everyone made it to the finish. Some people were faster, some people were slower. Our goal for this Tour of Colorado was to have 3 days of great riding in the mountains but also challenge people and to make them understand that they can accomplish a lot more than they think.
Thank you to everyone for coming to our first ALP Cycles Tour of Colorado! We are already thinking about the next edition in 2017. With all the experience from this year's tour it will be even better and we may extend it to more days.