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!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ride the Rockies 2016 Route: I'll Pass

That moment when you realize the Ride the Rockies 2016 route has been announced and you haven't blogged since the end of last year's ride! Yeah, that just happened. Where have I been? Struggling with injuries (right IT band/hip/knee and left foot/metatarsal nerve pain) and lack of motivation (to ride or to blog). I've even decided to sit out this year's RTR, but not because of that.

The RTR 2016 route includes some epic climbs but also one of the worst days I have ever experienced.

For the uninitiated, the RTR 2016 route includes two epic Colorado rides -- Aspen to Copper Mountain over Independence Pass and Grand Lake to Estes park over Trail Ridge Road. If you haven't done these rides they should be on your bucket list.

Unfortunately, the ride also includes one of the worst rides I have done in my nine RTRs. The 85-mile slog from Copper Mountain to Grand Lake on Day 5 is not tough, it's just no fun. So-called "Ute Pass" bears no resemblance to an actual mountain pass. Because it isn't. It's actually just a road near Ute Peak. The real Ute Pass is west of Colorado Springs on Hwy. 24.

But that's not the worst part. After riding past Ute Peak the road takes a nasty turn. According to the RTR website, "At the bottom of the pass, cyclists will test their handling skills on a 13-mile stretch of compacted dirt as they navigate their way through the open range of Grand County." I call bullshit. This stretch of road, as I described it after we did it on RTR in 2012, is "unsuitable for skinny tires and put the cyclists in a no win situation of either gutting it out and risking a fall, walking or SAGing the 15 miles." When I complained to Ride Director Chandler Smith that year he claimed that many riders loved the "Roubaix style" ride. BS. It was awful. I would never subject myself (or a decent set of rims) to that nonsense again. I'll pass. Good luck to this year's riders. I hope the road has improved and there are fewer accidents and injuries.

So now I'm looking for a new ride to tackle in 2016. My brother plans to join me and we are looking for a well-supported ride with great scenery, a little less elevation gain than RTR, and lots of fun! I've looked in RAGBRAI but am not sure I want to deal with 30,000+ riders. I'm also looking into Ride Idaho and Cycle Oregon. Has anyone done these rides? Other suggestions?

UPDATE: My brother and I have settled on Cycle Oregon! It looks like an amazing route in southwestern Oregon, skirting along the coastline on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway with a two night stay in Gold Beach, the sunniest spot on the Oregon coast, followed by an epic climb from sea level to 5,000 ft. over the mountains in the Rogue River-Siskayou National Forest.

I feel like I've already found my Pot of Gold after discovering Cycle Oregon!
This will be my first weeklong ride other than Ride the Rockies -- and my first with my brother -- and I have all summer to train!

Ride on!



  1. Having suffered through that same Ute Pass day on RTR 2012 I shared your concerns. However this year the unpaved section was well graded, had almost no loose gravel or dust due to a decent mag-cloride topcoat.
    Overall 2016 was the most fun route of the eight RTR rides we've completed!
    Still, variety is good and I'm sure you'll enjoy Cycle Oregon. Report back and perhaps some of us RTR vets will give it a try next year.

    1. That is great to hear. Glad you enjoyed the ride. I have to admit I was jonesing for RTR last week :)

      I will definitely blog about Cycle Oregon! Guess I should post a progress report on my training. I'm a bad blogger!

  2. Take a look at 109West.com great supported ride, amazing route this year!

    1. Thanks for the tip! That does look like a great route -- including the Million Dollar Highway and Red Mountain Pass. Will keep it in mind as an option to Ride the Rockies (check out my latest post at http://darenwms.blogspot.com/2017/02/ride-rockies-2017-route-announced.html)


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