A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Ride at the Air Force Academy

The dramatic spires of the Cadet Chapel are an iconic symbol of the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.
I remember visiting the U.S. Air Force Academy many times as a kid. My grandparents lived in Colorado Springs and we made many trips out here to visit and often drove through the Academy. But in recent years I've only driven past it on I-25 thinking it had been closed to the public post-911. Then, several weeks ago my daughter's rugby team (yes, you read that right) played in a tournament on the grounds of the Academy and I learned that visitors, including cyclists, are welcome to enter via the North Gate (with proper photo ID) with access to several scenic overlooks, the Cadet Chapel, Falcon Stadium, and the Visitor Center.

Me and Woody at Air Force Falcon Stadium.
So this past weekend I made plans to meet up with fellow Ride the Rockies Team Bar2Bar member Woody for a ride on Memorial Day. It just seemed fitting to pay tribute to those who had given their lives for our freedom on the hallowed grounds of the Academy. I downloaded this Air Force Cycling Team road race map on the internet and met up with Woody on Monday morning at 0700 at the North Gate. We entered through security with no problem (they will ask to check your trunk, which can be tricky with a loaded bike rack!) and parked in the lot near the start/finish line on this map (you can also park in a dirt lot outside the North Gate and ride in).

The B52 Bomber is an imposing site as you enter near the North Gate of the
U.S. Air Force Academy .
Following the arrows on the map we set off on the 12.5-mile road race loop. Turning on Stadium Drive (look for the imposing B52 bomber) we rode past Falcon Stadium and soon ran into a security checkpoint where we were informed by a stern female cadet that only military personnel are allowed past this point. Not ones to challenge authority (she was carrying a gun) we doubled back to Academy Drive and headed West up the serious climb to Pine Drive. Meeting back up with the course we hung a right past the visitor's center and completed the shortened loop (about 9 miles) back to our cars.

We did this loop three times, with several variations. All of the roads within this area, including Interior Drive and Parade Loop, are open to cyclists and offer some nasty hills (if you like short but steep climbs the Cross Drive cutoff between Interior Drive and Parade Loop hits 12% grade!). In total we rode 31 miles (with 2,500 ft. of elevation gain).

Cheyenne Mountain, in the distance over my left shoulder, is the home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The roads are very nice, with little traffic and great views of the Front Range from the Academy to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) facility on Cheyenne Mountain. Of course we also stopped for pictures at the Chapel, Stadium and B52.

If you are ever in the Colorado Springs/Denver area I highly recommend going for a spin at the Air Force Academy. It was well worth the extra effort to load up my bike and drive the 30 minutes from Castle Rock for a change of scenery from my normal routes. And it was great to catch up with Woody, a friend I met on my first Ride the Rockies in 2005 and look forward to seeing again in two weeks on RTR 2012!

Ride on!



  1. interested in a team beef shirt. erniem@paulreedconstruction.com

    1. Ernie, visit the Team Beef website (teambeef.org) and send me a note with the size and style you want. We will be placing an order soon!



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