Endless Curiosity

May 7, 2012

Boulder Fearsome Five

Filed under: Cycling — Alec @ 12:40 pm

The Fearsome Five

This weekend I did a ride called the Boulder Fearsome Five, or Los Cinco Diablos. It’s a ride put on by Rocky Mountain Cycling Club as part of the Challenge Series Short-Course Events. Here’s a map of the route.

It’s a lovely looking ride, cycling Super Flagstaff, Magnolia, Sugarloaf, 4 Mile Canyon to Gold Hill (dirt road between Salina and half-way down Sunshine Canyon), Lee Hill Road, and Super Jamestown. The web site says it’s about 100 miles and over 15,000 feet of climbing. Just the sort of ride I enjoy!

I joined RMCC this year as I love the idea of the long rides they put on, but had yet to do one of their rides. Part of this is because I seem to have had one injury after another this year – knee problems, hamstring problems, shoulder problems. I even asked my doctor if there is a virus that causes injuries to the body and he replied, “yes, the aging virus.”  😦  Darn.

After several months of trying to slowly recover I finally thought to hell with it, just go for the Fearsome Five. Then the problem became the weather. The ride was scheduled for Sunday but the forecast said that while Saturday would be nice, Sunday would be considerably colder with rain expected later in the day. By this time I was wanting to do the ride, so I decided to do it on Saturday.

I drove to 4th and Mapleton and parked my car there with some extra food and water that I could get before heading over to Lee Hill. Then I rode Super Flagstaff, riding too much of it in my easiest gear, so on the way back I went by my house and changed bikes for one with easier gears. Unfortunately I left my energy bars in the house and had to ride Magnolia, Sugerloaf, and 4 Mile Canyon to Gold Hill with no food 😦   Up at Gold Hill I went into the Red Store and asked if they sold food but the answer was no. Fortunately the owner took pity on me and found a chocolate bar that he sold me. Back down Sunshine Canyon and over rather more washboard that I would have liked, and I got back to my car where I downed coconut juice, a chicken breast, and a banana – and put some energy bars in my pockets.

Then it was slowly up Lee Hill Road, down Left Hand Canyon, then up past Jamestown to where the road tops out at Sparn Way. Finally after a long downhill there was just the final hill over Old Stage Road, where I was barely moving faster than a woman walking up the road.

RMCC had a cutoff time of 10 hours, which was meaningless for me since I rode on Saturday instead of Sunday, but I did at least finish 15 minutes inside the cutoff time.

The Boulder Big Eight

The Fearsome Five is quite similar to a ride I did back in 1998 which I called the Boulder Big Eight. The difference is that in 1998 I stayed on paved roads and instead of continuing on dirt up past Salina to Gold Hill then down Sunshine Canyon, I rode back down 4 Mile Canyon, then climbed Sunshine Canyon on the paved road. I also counted Lee Hill as a separate climb, and added the climb to Ward, thus doing 8 climbs.

I parked at 4th and Mapleton, leaving some water and food in my car so that I could refuel. I’ve no idea how far the ride is, as I don’t ride with any type of cycling computer but it must be more than the 100 miles and 15,000 feet of the Fearsome Five. Based on how I felt at the end of it, I would say the Big Eight is the hardest ride I’ve ever done.

Also, I came close to dying on it. I was descending fast down the steep hill above Poorman Road on Sunshine Canyon, a sweeping left-hand bend, and there was a big RV stopped in the uphill lane. Just as I reached it, a car coming uphill pulled out to overtake. I sat back, slammed on my brakes, and wondered if I could throw myself over the guardrail on the right and if so, how much damage I would do to myself. Then I realized there was perhaps just enough room between the car and the guard rail to get through so I released the brakes and rode through the gravel at the edge of the road. Once I was through and my heart had slowed, I realized my wheel was clicking so I stopped and discovered that the force of the braking (and probably the back wheel sliding) had buckled the rim of the back wheel – and this was a mountain bike with slick tires! I unlatched the back brake, then went home to put on another back wheel before continuing.

1.      Lee Hill. Out north to Lee Hill Road then up and over to Left Hand Canyon (make sure you stay on Lee Hill and don’t go over Olde Stage Road).

2.      Super-Jamestown. Down Left Hand Canyon then turn left up to Jamestown. Continue past Jamestown to the very top of the climb, at Sparn Way. Back down to Left Hand Canyon.

3.      Ward. Up Left Hand Canyon to Ward. Continue to the Peak to Peak Highway. Back down Left Hand Canyon and over Lee Hill Road back into Boulder.

4.      Sunshine Canyon. Back to 4th and Mapleton, then up Sunshine Canyon to where the dirt starts (at the junction where the road to Sunshine goes off to the right). Back down to 4th and Mapleton.

5.      Four Mile Canyon. Up Boulder Canyon to Four Mile Canyon. Up this to the end of the paved road past Salina. Back down to Boulder Canyon.

6.      Sugarloaf. Up Boulder Canyon to Sugarloaf Road. Up this to the very top (to where the road starts descending and where the road to the Switzerland Trail goes off to the right). Back down to Boulder Canyon.

7.      Magnolia. Down Boulder Canyon a few hundred yards then turn right up Magnolia Road. Climb this to the very top, where the road turns to dirt and it starts a long gradual descent. Back down to Boulder Canyon, and back to Boulder.

8.      Super-Flagstaff. Up to Baseline Road, then up Flagstaff Mountain to the mailboxes on top.  Back down to Boulder, to 4th and Mapleton.

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