My boyfriend, Dan, has been obsessed with the Colorado Trail Race (CTR) and flirting with racing this event since 2010. CTR is 500 miles with over 70,000 feet of elevation gain (yes you read that correctly) along the Colorado Trail between Denver and Durango. This is a self-supported bike-packing race with no entry fee, no prize money, no outside support, and is based on the honor system. Each year the grand depart start alternates from Denver at Waterton Canyon, or Durango. This year it started at Waterton Canyon where Dan and I watched the bad-ass, crazy racers gather. There were 69 riders of which 9 females were registered as of this morning. 57 riders were at the group start; 12 of the registered riders were individual time trial participants, which means it is a self-timed ITT and they are still able to utilize a spot tracker, typically starting within a week or so of the mass start.
We arrived in the parking lot of Waterton Canyon at 5:15am, the sun was barely starting to rise, I thought to myself that Cheri Felix would call this dark-time. The parking lot was almost full with riders and their family and friends. 6am is when the mass start took off and Stefan Griebel, the race founder, gave a quick speech and review of the rules. This year marked the tenth year of the race and the first comment Stefan made was that ten years ago there were only ten participants. He reminded that while there is no entry fee or purse, participants are encouraged to donate to the Colorado Trail Foundation as they are the group responsible for maintaining the trail for all of us to enjoy.
- No pre-arranged support -100% self-supported
- If there are trail closures or forest fire use best judgment for re-route
- Do not leave any gear on the trail
The guys and gals took off into the sunrise. Dan and I left to eat some breakfast, then headed up to Buffalo Creek to ride segment two backwards. After I donated a little blood to the mountain bike gods (nothing broken or requiring stitches) we continued up until we saw the leaders come through. Ben was in first place, a first-timer from Fort Collins hoping to finish in 5 days or less. Then Neil, owner of bike-packer magazine and who also set a course record in 2014, was in second place but his shifter broke and he dropped out to fix it (he’s going to restart on Monday and do an ITT start instead now) . We captured several photos and enjoyed cheering for the crazy ones this morning! Maybe next year Dan will be one of them J To track the participants you can go to http://trackleaders.com/ctr16; to donate to Colorado Trail Foundation go to http://www.coloradotrail.org/ and to learn more about CTR go to http://www.climbingdreams.net/ctr/