The following is a guest post from Jeff Higham, who woke up early on Monday August 2nd to watch the start of the Colorado Trail Race—a 470+ mile unsupported race from Denver to Durango. Jeff lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado with his wife and 4 kids. He currently rides for the Natural Grocers / Vitamin Cottage Cycling Team competing in regional XC and endurance mountain bike events. For more from Jeff—and I highly recommend adding him to your regular reading schedule—visit his blog.
I woke up early today to join some hard bodies for the start of the Colorado Trail Race, a self-supported mountain bike race that starts just west of Sedalia, Colorado and ends near Durango, Colorado some 470 miles later. Those that complete the race will have climbed over 65,000 vertical feet (how many feet are in a mile? 5,280?). The race is 100% self-supported with no entrance fee, outside help, aide stations, food drops, course markers, first aide stations, team cars, etc. Just the riders and what they can cary.
Unlike the rest of those lining up at the starting line—a parking lot at the intersection of Colorado Highway 67 and Rampart Range Road in the Pike National Forrest—I was planning to sleep in my own bed tonight. I was just there for a small sample of the whole experience, a meager 5 miles of the course. Everyone else will be sleeping under the stars, clouds, lightning, snow, hail, or whatever nature throws at them tonight. As I write this at 9:30PM it looks like the leaders will be sleeping the first night just west of Breckenridge or possibly near Copper Mountain. Follow the race in real-time.
My “pretend racer” plan was simple and took all of 5 minutes to dream up this morning on my drive to the trailhead. I was going to snap a few photos at the start and then strap a POV camera to my helmet and ride the first 5 miles of the race and then venture back up the trail to my car. Then I would drive home, take a quick shower, and head into the office to spend the rest of the day dreaming what it would be like to have kept riding. Much like my pretend CTR race plan my bike pack was extremely simple and took about as much time to get ready. Cycling clothing, helmet, glasses, shoes, gloves, 2 tubes, 2 water bottles, 3 gel shots, a Flip Ultra, and a POV cam attached to my helmet. This is my usual setup for 1-2 hours of riding which is all I ended up doing (excluding the camera equipment). At the starting line I had some comments by real racers on how light I was packing for such a demanding race. Jokingly I asked them what they needed all of that stuff for. I got a few puzzled looks but mostly a lot of smiles.
Many of these racers have been planning, training, testing equipment, and doing weekend bikepacking trips to prepare for the demands of the race. Just browse the 2010 posts of Topeak-Ergon pro Jeff Kerkove to get an idea of the kind of commitment and preparation required to RACE the CTR.
Perhaps someday my pretend dreams will turn into reality and I can ride on past Lenny’s Rest and into the 465 miles of singletrack heaven. Maybe next year, or the year after that, or even the year after that I’ll be among those lining up with a 40lb bike and a huge smile.