Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Manitou Incline

Yesterday, Melisa and I took a trip up to Manitou Springs to do the "Incline."  For the uninitiated, the Manitou Incline is an abandoned rail line that runs up the side of a mountain just west of Colorado Springs.  For several years, it became an unofficial trail (it was actually trespassing) that has lured hikers, endurance athletes, and just about anyone else who wants a challenge.  It is a little over a mile long and gains 2,000 feet.  The average grade on the incline is 40%.  You can read all of the nitty, gritty details here.
I found this graphic which demonstrates nicely the height of the Incline relative to some other tall locales.

We got a late start and didn't wind up getting onto the trail until mid-morning.  By this point it was fairly hot which added to the challenge of the climb.  Fortunately, as we gained altitude, we were greeted by a refreshing breeze which helped a great deal.  Still, an early morning or a cooler day would be preferable.  As you climb, you will see all kinds of folks on the incline.  Some are running, others are hiking, and plenty are just plain sucking wind.  

A couple of climbers making their way up the last few steps.
The trick to the incline (in my opinion) has to do with pacing.  It's important to find a steady climbing rate that allows you to keep moving forward without pushing the cardiovascular system to the brink.  If you go too fast, you will be forced to stop every 20 feet just to catch your breath.  This will add a great deal of time to your climb.  If you move at a steady pace however, you may not rocket to the top, but you also need fewer breaks.  Even pausing for 10 seconds usually does the trick if you are gong slow enough.  Here's a very short video of what the climb looks like (this is about 1/2 way up).

For our trip, we took our time and stopped along the climb.  It took us well over an hour to make it to the top, but we weren't in any rush either.  Instead of climbing back down the incline, we took the Barr Trail.  The trail is about 2.9 miles (the sign says different) but involves more switchbacks and fewer steep descents.

All Smiles after reaching the top!
We are planning at least one more trip this summer up the incline.  I'd like to try to see how fast I can get to the top the next time we go (the record is 16:42, but I'd be happy with a sub 40:00 minute time).  If you have the opportunity to make this trip, and you're up for a challenge, I highly recommend it! (Note: The incline will be closed for repairs later in August.  They are anticipating a four month closure).
Looking back down the trail from the top