Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Event Procedures - Read Carefully

These procedures cover:
  • Check-In and Inspection
  • Ride Start
  • Bagdrop Locations and Controls
  • Ride Finish
  • Après-Finish Dinner

Check-In and Inspection will be 4:00 - 5:30pm on Sunday 10 July at the Quality Inn in Louisville. If this time will not work for you, please let me know in advance.  Time will be limited at the ride start, so only limited inspections and packet hand-out can be accommodated.

For inspection, you will need to show your:
  • lighting system mounted on bike and backup lighting system,
  • reflective gear for your bike and yourself (legbands and reflective vest or equivalent)
  • dropbag (no need to fill it - just show it's within size limits)
I will hand out rider packets including brevet card, helmet number, and cue sheet. After inspection, you may wish to join other riders for dinner at a neighboring restaurant - there are several within walking distance.

Ride Start
Sign in between 3am-3:30am at the Quality Inn.   Deposit your drop bags at the front of the motel. As in years past, the Quality Inn staff is making provisions to store guests' bicycle bags and other luggage during the event.

En Route

Overnight Accommodations & Bagdrops - The controls at Saratoga, Steamboat Springs, and Walden provide motel-room accommodations and dropbag availability during periods:

  • Saratoga: evening of July 11 to morning of July 12 (day 1-2)
  • Steamboat Springs evening of July 12 to morning of July 13 (day 2-3)
  • Walden: evening of July 13 to morning of July 14 (day 3-4)

Dropbags and rooms will be available starting late afternoon.  Dropbags will be transported to the next location early morning.  Volunteers will assign you to a room.  They will try to accommodate rooming with certain other riders, but that's not guaranteed.

Food will be available in a common area.  There will be evening items and then breakfast items in the morning including items to take with you.

Walden Transit Control - The Walden control will also be staffed parts of July 11 and 12 for riders transiting Walden outbound to Saratoga and heading to Steamboat Springs.  There will be some food and drink.

Sign-In/Sign-OutIMPORTANT - When you arrive in Saratoga, Steamboat Springs, and Walden, sign in on the sheet provided. Then remember also to sign out when you leave, whether your stay is half an hour or overnight. This allows us to keep track of the riders and post rider progress on the website, for those following the event. You also must have your brevet card validated by staff.

Unstaffed Checkpoints and Texting – Checkpoints mentioning a store or "Any Store" or "Any Establishment" have no event staff: have any store clerk note your time of passage and initial the card or, if during the night when all establishments in the town are closed, note your own time (should not occur).   You may optionally send a text when you transit an unstaffed control - this lets us and those following the event keep better track of your progress during the day.  Text to 720-295-8751 and include:
  • Location of checkpoint (e.g., Laramie)
  • Your name  (and optionally of those riding with you)
  • Time of Passage

Ride Finish

Finish is at the Quality Inn.  We'll be there starting mid-afternoon until dinnertime (see below).  If you finish when there is no event staff present,  have motel staff validate your finishing time, and retain your card.  Give it to an event official at the dinner or during the time the finish line is staffed, or contact us.

Drop Bags will be available starting Thursday afternoon at the Quality Inn.

Après-Finish Dinner
We've made our traditional arrangements at Carrabbas Italian Grill, in the next block north of the motel, starting 7:00pm on Thursday. Attendees pay their own way. Mention the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club as the group you're with.  Their back room has been reserved.  If we run out of room there, you can ask for a table in the main dining area. In past years, everyone's had a great time!

Jerseys and Vests
Jerseys and Vests are scheduled to be produced and delivered in September.  You may order through July 19.
Bonne Route!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Rusty Pines?

In North Park and some other areas, you may wonder about areas of rust-colored pines. 

This is evidence of pine-beetle infestation with which parts of Colorado and Wyoming have been contending the last few years.  The US Forest Service and private landowners have been removing the afflicted trees as time and budget permit.  So you may also encounter logging activity, at least in North Park.

On a brighter note, July is wildflower season in the Colorado High Country. 

You may see wildflowers including St. John's Wort, Foxglove, Columbine (Colorado state flower), and dozens of other varieties of alpine and subalpine blooms.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Early?

The High Country 1200 departs Louisville at 4am.  But what time should you head out from Saratoga, Steamboat, or Walden as your ride progresses?

At this time of year, it will start getting vaguely light around 5am (assuming clear skies) with sunrise about 5:40am. 

If it were me, I'd be on the road every day by 4am.  That's about an hour of darkness in the morning, usually the calmest part of the day, both in terms of wind and storms (which tend to build up as the day progresses then taper off at evening).

And, too, this gives a better chance to finish the stage in daylight.  While it may be ok descending Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat, or Willow Creek Pass to Walden, in darkness (while staying alert for wildlife and other obstacles on the road), wouldn't it be faster and more scenic in daylight?

If your pace is slower, or you're snapping lots of photos, or enjoying a sit-down meal at a cafe en route, you might consider an earlier start.  Specifics ...

Saratoga - The first hour towards the Snowy Range is a combination of gentle climb and some upward-trending rollers.  By the time you reach the climb proper, it should be light, and by the time you reach the Snowy Range highlands, the sun should be warming you for the descent.

Steamboat Springs - An extended mainly gentle climb through Oak Creek makes for a good start in darkness.  It should be light by the time you reach Oak Creek and the store there.

Walden - Thirty miles to Cameron Pass, but most of it in flat to rolling terrain in North Park.  By the time you reach the main climb, it should be light.  And as with the Snowy Range, you should be facing into the warming sun for your descent.  The balancing act with the Poudre Canyon descent is an early descent can be chilly, but the longer you wait, the more time for up-canyon winds (headwinds) to build up, making more work for you in the lower canyon (and more traffic).  So generally, earlier is better.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Your Volunteers!

It takes a lot of people working together to bring off a challenging event like the High Country 1200.  We are fortunate to have a passel of folks who've stepped forward - most are veteran randos like you - and all are dedicated to a great rider experience.

A few of our gracious volunteers:
Dick Wiss (HQ), Tammie Nakamura (Walden), Charlie Henderson (everywhere), Kay Covington (Steamboat), Rick and Sherrie Isham (Saratoga), Jim Kraychy (Walden).
Front: Susan Plonsky (AZ), Buster (HQ), Tim Foon Feldman (Walden)

I know you will appreciate their efforts.
Remember, they've been in your shoes (except for Buster!).


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Accommodations? Support? What to Expect ...

  • Places to Sleep - Overnight accommodations are provided at Saratoga (evening of July 11), Steamboat Springs (evening of July 12), and Walden (evening of July 13).
  • Sleeping Arrangements - These are in motels.  Riders will be assigned to rooms as they arrive, generally double occupancy, depending on the room size.
  • Dropbags - Your dropbag will be available by late afternoon of the day when overnight support is offered at the respective motels.  You'll need to return the bag to the common area before leaving.
  • Food at Overnights - Hot and cold food items will be provided in the evening and the next morning, including items suitable for taking with you the next day.  Remember that the first leg of succeeding days can include several hours of riding before encountering any stores or cafes.  Examples:
    • Saratoga over Snowy Range to Centennial (47 mi.)
    • Walden over Cameron Pass to Rustic (57 mi.)
  • Other Food at Overnights - There are also supermarkets, convenience stores, and fast food and other restaurants in these towns.  (The Saratoga motel is next door to the supermarket, for example.)
  • Not Following the Stages? - If you plan not to follow the recommended stages (not sleeping at the overnight venues), let us know.  You should be aware that there are long stretches with no towns, or no facilities open overnight, and cold temps at altitude, and our course monitoring is oriented to riding the suggested stages.
  • Course Monitoring - You may encounter staff monitoring the course, but for every stretch - especially the challenging ones mentioned in the Hydration post - you should prepare, hydration-wise, etc., as if you won't.
  • Phone Reception - As in many remote and scenic areas, cell-phone reception can be spotty, and can vary from carrier to carrier.
  • Personal Support - If you have personal support, a reminder that (1) they may only meet you at checkpoints and (2) you must identify them to us at inspection or sign-in so they can be registered and oriented.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Cattle Guards (aka Stock Gaps)

    I refer to cattle guards in the rider info.  There aren't many on the route: a couple descending from the Snowy Range, and a couple descending Gore Pass.  Here's one on our Stove Prairie 200k:

    You may be familiar with cattle guards.  For those who are not ... these are devices (in coordination with fences, as in the photo) to hem in cattle in Open Range areas (see sign in photo), where cattle may be on the open road.  Some are signposted, but not all.  So keep an eye out.

    Riders out West routinely ride over them, but with care.  You should be at right angles to the bars, and avoid any gaps or uneven places along the width of the cattle guard.  In wet conditions, they could be slippery.

    If you feel at all uncomfortable at the prospect of riding across, simply dismount and walk across.  The five-second walk will do you good.


    Wednesday, June 8, 2011


    As I've mentioned on the rider info page and in the Altitude post, hydration is at least as important here as on other events.  While heat in general may not be an issue, that doesn't mean hydration takes a back seat.

    Official Event Hydration in Quebec on Boston-Montreal-Boston 2006

    A few route segments deserve special attention:
    • Walden to Saratoga (Day 1) - 67 miles - Exposed, with a number of rollers.  (It's only 49 miles to Riverside, but their store closes at 7pm).
    • Walden to Steamboat Springs (Day 2) - 57 miles - Including the climb to Muddy Pass and over Rabbit Ears Pass.
    • Granby to Walden (Day 3) - 55 miles - Including the climb over Willow Creek Pass.
    All of these segments are the final ones on their respective stages.  So:
    1. At the start of those segments, make sure you're well-hydrated, not depleted - more of a challenge later in the day.
    2. Consider extra liquid-carrying capacity, and not count on staff presence somewhere along the way.  (In my case, that would mean two large water bottles plus a hydration pack, rather than the one large and one small bottle I normally carry.)
    If your prep and equipment cover these cases, you should be set (hydration-wise) for the route as a whole!


    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Altitude Effects - What to Expect?

    A number of you have asked about altitude effects on the High Country 1200.  Here are some considerations:
    • Highest Points - The HC 1200 route reaches 10,000 ft. three times - at Cameron Pass (twice) and over the Snowy Range.  By comparison, the Colorado 400k, 600k, and 1000k brevets reach 9,200 ft.  The track record of riders from lower elevations (California coast, Texas, Maryland, etc.) on those events has been good.  Most of these riders have reported more fatigue at elevation, but have otherwise performed well.
    • Extended Altitude - One difference from the 400k/600k/1000k brevets is that more of the HC course is at altitude.  The third overnight control, at Walden, is at 8,100 ft.  (Saratoga and Steamboat Springs are lower.)  Assuming you're reacting well to the altitude per se, you should still allow extra time for a slower pace and more rest.  And stay hydrated. 
    • Acclimatization - True acclimitization takes weeks or even months.  However, true acclimitization aside, some folks report they feel better after spending an extra couple of days at the start (5,300 ft.).  There is also a theory in recent articles that it is better to arrive a couple days in advance, rather than a week in advance.  Most non-local riders last year arrived 1-3 days in advance and most seemed to take the altitude well.
    • Altitude Sickness - Data suggests that altitude sickness is very individual and hard to predict.*  You're advised to do some research as to symptoms and treatment.  While it may not be common across the population, you need be alert, know the signs of altitude sickness (a serious condition) and react to it quickly.
    • Tips for Altitude - It's especially important to monitor your hydration at altitude.  This is more of a challenge because the arid climate makes perspiration less obvious (and draws more water out of you).  And of course mind the sunscreen, as the clear, dry (and somewhat thinner) air lets more radiation through.

    Descending from 9,254 ft. on last Saturday's Lefthand Canyon 400km brevet:

    * Some years ago, I came from Charlotte to ride a solo bike tour in Colorado, crossing a 12,000 ft. pass a couple days after I arrived and climbing to 14,000 (Mt. Evans) at the end of the trip.  I experienced no altitude sickness, and am not an isolated case.  However, as I said, it's hard to predict how a given individual will react.