In two days time, I will embark on the longest and most difficult bike ride that I've ever done. I am doing a short "taper" this week to get ready, so yesterday I did a brief 1 hour ride on my tri bike. Now it's down time until the event. Generally, before a "race," I'll come up with a detailed plan for the event so that I'll have a strategy mapped out in advance. These plans help me to mentally prepare, and they're designed with some flexibility so that I can adapt based on course conditions, the type of race I'm having, etc. For this event, I've decided to create more of a "ride plan," since it isn't a race, and I have absolutely no experience with a formal century ride. More than anything, this plan will help me to review the course for the race, and to make my best "guess" about how I need to be riding. As with the CPTR that I did in May, I have no real goal in mind, other than to finish.
|Looks to be acceptable weather for the event.|
According to the event web site, the ride I will be doing is 106 miles, although some of the mapping shows it to be closer to 110 (Hey what's another 3-4 miles when you've ridden that far right?). It also claims about 10,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of the ride with the biggest climb occurring between 10-35 miles or so. In terms of climbing they break down as follows (classifications are based on what Map My Ride says):
Cat 5: Two climbs (easiest)
Cat 4: Six climbs
Cat 3: Three climbs
Cat 2: Two climbs
There don't appear to be any Cat 1 or HC climbs (HC meaning too steep to classify). That said, it doesn't mean that there won't be some gradients that are at least that steep, they just won't have that classification listed because they aren't long enough. Shucks!
The course is basically broken into sections based on the distance between rest stops. There are 6 total rest stops, and century riders hit some of them more than once. As a result the ride can be divided into 10 sections total. Each of these sections varies in length ranging from 7 miles, all the way up to nearly 20 miles.
Section 1 (Start to rest stop # 1 along CR1): With a length of 9.5 miles, this section begins with a gradual climb right from the beginning. At the nearly halfway mark, it switches to an equivalent down hill. The rest stop at the end marks the turnoff point for century riders who do a loop through the towns of Cripple Creek, Victor, and Goldfield. I will be riding this section a little after 6 in the morning and so it will be the warm-up. I'll need it for section 2.
Section 2 (Rest stop #1 up to #2): The next portion of the ride is only 7 miles long. That said, it appears to have two of the steepest climbs in the event each appearing to be somewhere between 2-3 miles in length. I'm going to take my time on this part. It's still very early in the ride so I don't want to finish it exhausted yet having covered only 16 miles total.
Section 3 (Through Cripple Creek to Victor): Shortly after leaving the second rest stop, the ride passes through the town of cripple creek and winds up in Victor, Colorado. This should be an interesting part of the ride given that I've never visited either Cripple Creek or Victor. It's always nice to see new scenery. This section is about 7.3 miles in length with a slight uphill. Again, I think the key here will be to take my time and conserve energy for the riding later in the day.
Section 4 (Through Victor, Goldfield and back to stop #2): A 9.8 mile section that continues to climb up to the course high point at just under 10,000 feet in elevation. Looks like a steep climb, a short downhill, followed by a more gradual climb. More climbing= more taking it easy.
Section 6 (County road 1): The next 12.6 miles also appear to be a gradual downhill (leading up to the next climbing section of the ride towards the end. At this point, the course passes from Teller County into Fremont County to the south. More down hill= more recovery.
Section 7 (Rest stop #4 to Rest stop #5): This is a 10 mile section that looks to be a gradual to moderate climb (looks a little steeper at the end). There is still some climbing left but this one appears to reach about 9000 feet, the last to do so. I will be nearing the halfway point for total distance at this point.
Section 8 (Long descent to Rest stop #6): At 14 miles long, this section is entirely downhill and looks to be the longest descent of the entire ride. There are a couple of risers along the way, but the end of this section reaches the lowest point on the course (about 7200 feet). Good place to recover and conserve energy for the last portion of the ride.
Section 9 (Guffey area back to Rest stop #1): This is a 19.3 mile chunk that starts near Guffey, and involves a fairly steep section of climbing at the beginning. The rest of the section is a mix of ups and downs along CR's 102 and 112. Hard to say what I'll be doing here as I cross the threshold into a distance I haven't done before. Hope to be feeling well. With a steep start and a long ways to the next station, I will at least be hanging on.
Section 10 (Rest Stop #1 to Finish): This is the final stretch of 9.5 miles back to the finish area in Florissant. Just like the first section, only in reverse. I'm sure by this point, I will be counting the miles!
It's difficult to estimate the amount of time this experience ride will take. I'm hopeful that even with the climbing, I'll be able to keep an average pace somewhere between 12.5 to 15 mph across the whole ride. That would be somewhere between 7 to 8.5 hours total which would be in line with some of my longer rides in the mountains. The big "X factor" is how much slower I will ride after 70 miles since that will be uncharted territory. I will also need to be mindful of the time I spend at each of the rest stops. That's an easy way to add an extra 30-45 minutes if one lingers too long.