Pikes Peak South Slope Finally Opens for Few Days

October 3rd, 2014

Mason Reservoir On Pikes Peak South Slope

Pikes Peak South Slope open to public first time in 100 years this weekend and next Thur-Sun before it closes for the winter. A permit must be purchased before going or they won’t let you through the gate. Permits are $15 per vehicle for up to 8 people. Get the details on the Colorado Springs website.

I did a guided hike 4 years ago and have Pikes Peak South Slope photos and post here.

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Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb Photos

August 28th, 2014

Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb 2014

I now have my 2014 Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb photos online. Prints or digital downloads can be purchased. For more about the race and ride, see my post from a couple days ago.

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Bone Chilling Pikes Peak Hill Climb

August 25th, 2014

Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb 2014

Yesterday was the Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb. The Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb includes both a USAC race and a timed citizens ride. The cycling hill climb starts the same place as the auto hill climb. The course climbs over 4,700 feet in 12 miles to the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,115.

I helped hand out timing chips at the start line and then shot photos up on the mountain once the USAC race started. The weather at the start was similar to the past years but ominous clouds were building over the summit.

Once I headed up the mountain, I encountered strong winds and it got worse the higher I drove. Clouds were blowing throw so I was having trouble finding a well lit spot for shooting photos. Riders were getting blown around on the road by the wind gusts.

When I was shooting photos, I was shivering and kept jumping up and down in an attempt to stay a little warmer. At the last spot I stopped to shoot photos just before the summit, there was fog and the rocks were covered in ice.

Although the riders were working hard going up, I could only imagine how cold they were as some of them were in shorts and short sleeves. Although many riders sent warm clothes to the top for the ride down, they didn’t have warm enough clothes and were concerned about get blown around on the way down. The race organizers and whomever could shuttled people back down to the start where the weather was a pretty typical August day.

In spite of the weather, I shot a large number of photos. Prints and digital downloads are available on my Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb photo page. You can also check out my 2013 Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb photos.

Top 5 Men Pro/1/2

  1. LeRoy Popowski 1:14:21
  2. Emerson Oronte 1:16:14
  3. Christopher Carr 1:17:32
  4. Ian London 1:19:54
  5. Kalan Beisel 1:21:36

Women Pro/1/2

  1. Annie Toth 1:32:28
  2. Lindsey Knast 1:37:21
  3. Sue Stokes 1:42:56
  4. Andrea Koenig 2:09:28

Complete results on BRAC website

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Pikes Peak Cycing Hill Climb 2013

July 22nd, 2013

Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb 2013

Update: Complete set of Pikes Peak Hill Cycling Climb photos are here.

Yesterday was the Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb. It climbed the top 12.5 miles of Pikes Peak and had over 4,700 feet of climbing. The fun ride started at 6 AM and the race started at 7 AM. LeRoy Popowski defended his title of king of the mountain. Results are here.

Back when the Pikes Peak Highway was still gravel, we used to race the top 8 miles on mountain bikes. Even that was a tough race but I liked it because of the uniqueness of being above timberline. Now that I’m not in great shape and the highway is open to bikes, I’m happy just to ride my bike up there without racing.

Although I didn’t race this time, I went up and helped with handing out timing chips and then went up above timberline and shot photos. I shot over a thousand photos so it’ll take me some time to get through them all. A few of them are down below.

Once I go through them, I’ll post them on the photo page. As with most of the photos I take, they’ll be available for purchase both as prints and digital downloads.

Update: Complete set of Pikes Peak Hill Cycling Climb photos are here.

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Input on Biking Pikes Peak

November 7th, 2012

Pikes Peak Summit by Bike

Cyclists got a chance to bike the Pikes Peak Highway during September. I took advantage of it and rode from my house to the top of Pikes Peak and then down Barr Trail. I know lots of people who also rode. The’s no reason for it to not be open all the time the Pikes Peak Highway is.

The Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is taking input on allowing bikes on the Pikes Peak road in the future at their meeting tomorrow, November 8th. The meeting starts at 7:30 AM. Bikes on Pikes Peak is fairly far down on the agenda so if you can’t arrive until a little after 8 you should be there in time and give input. The meeting is at parks headquarters, 1401 Recreation Way.

Hope to see you there! You can check out my Pikes Peak photos and ride report here.

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Ring the Peak Race 2012 Photos

October 7th, 2012

Ring the Peak Race 2012

Ring the Peak started and ended frosty with icy drizzle as we started. It was chilly but pretty nice in between with even some blue skies and sun. I had asthma issues the second half and had to keep stopping to warm my fingers from Elk Park down to Pipeline. I had frost on my eyelashes and my bottle froze on the decent. It wasn’t as cold from Pipeline down but still plenty cold. I was 1:25 faster than last year with 10:50. I was still slow but headed in the right direction.

Here’s a few photos until I get a chance to write up more on the race.

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Pikes Peak by Bike

September 29th, 2012

Pikes Peak by Bike

Bikes have long been banned on the Pikes Peak Highway but there have always been people interested in riding it. Until last year though, parts of it were still gravel so it wasn’t road bike friendly.

There have been a few opportunities to ride up the Pikes Peak road over the years. Back in the 90s, there was a mountain bike race up the top 8 miles. The last couple years, Assault from the Peak started in Manitou and went to the Summit. This year it was called Pikes Peak Cycling Hillclimb and the start was moved up to Crystal Reservoir.

Back around the year 2000 when most of the road above Crystal Reservoir was still dirt, there was a trial of letting cyclists ride bikes on their own during September. Because of the dirt, it meant either riding a mountain bike or cross bike.

The thing that made it tough during that trial was the gate opened at 6:30 AM and bikes had to be off the road by 9 AM. The lowest you could start riding was Crystal Reservoir but even for a fit rider it was tough to ride to the summit and back in that time. I rode it with a friend. We parked a vehicle in Manitou and on the way down took the Elk Park Trail to Barr Trail. Even then I think it was nearly 9 by the time we got off the road.

This month, September 4-30, there’s finally another trial of allowing bikes on the Pikes Peak Highway. This time bikes are allowed during normal highway hours and can start at any point. Riders are required to sign a special waiver form. It’s $12 per person or $8 for groups of 4 or more.

Pikes Peak from Garden of the GodsLast Sunday the weather forecast was great and it fit in my schedule to ride up Pikes Peak. I rode from house and hit a trail through Garden of the Gods on my way to the Pikes Peak Highway gate. It was an absolutely beautiful morning!

It was after 10 when I got to the tollgate and by the time a group of 10 cyclists signed the waivers it was nearly 10:30 by the time I got through the gate. If they do allow bikes on the Pikes Peak road after this trial, I definitely wouldn’t start up that late during the summer and it’s pushing it even this time of the year.

The first few miles climb fairly steep before moderating. There’s even a little bit downhill at Crystal Reservoir. After the halfway picnic area, it’s up, up, up until well above timberline. Around Devil’s playground, there’s a slight downhill that gives a break before the final push to the summit.

Since I was going to ride down Barr Trail, I was riding my Santa Cruz Tallboy. It certainly doesn’t make for a fast ride on pavement and I took advantage of the low gears and plodded along. I was in no hurry and enjoyed the great views and stopped and took plenty of photos along the way.

It was a warm day for late September and it wasn’t until I was above timberline that I put on my arm and knee warmers. I didn’t need my vest until after I reached the summit.

Pikes Peak Summit by BikeAfter hanging out with friends for a bit at the summit, I headed over the edge to start the ride down Barr Trail. I haven’t ridden Barr Trail down from the summit in a long time because it’s so tough. It was even tougher after riding the bike for over 6 hours.

I rode very little of the first 1/2 mile down the 16 Golden Stairs. After that I was on and off the bike a lot. I could see a couple bikes below me as I headed down. I caught up to them after a little while. One of them was another local Leadville 100 racer that I know.

Below Barr Camp, Barr Trail is all rideable and I made better time. As late as it was, there probably wouldn’t have been many Manitou Incline hikers and runners on the trail but I still cut through Experimental Forest and down Long’s Ranch road to US 24.

According to my Garmin Edge 705 download, I rode 55.56 miles and climbed 10,945 feet. The vertical seems a bit high however. My elapsed time was 10:54 with 9:06 of ride time. Riding from my house made a tough ride even tougher but it certainly was a great day on the bike.

Some photos of my ride are below and there are more Pikes Peak Highway/Barr Trail bike ride photos here. You can also check out my ride on Strava.

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Ring The Peak Trail

July 17th, 2011

Ring the Peak Trail

Over the years I’ve ridden my bike around Pikes Peak several times. The route I’ve done the most often has been on my mountain bike up Gold Camp Road and then back the pavement on CO 67 and US 24. From my house that route is over 90 miles. I’ve also done the mega-mile road loop through Divide, Guffey and Canon City and if I remember correctly it is about 170 miles with a ton of climbing.

The Ring the Peak Trail around Pikes Peak is a shorter but true mountain bike or hiking route that has been mapped out. There’s a section missing in the area of the Pikes Peak South Slope reservoir area that requires using CO 67 and Gold Camp Road. Over the last couple years, I’ve had a couple friends ride the Ring the Peak Trail and they’ve all said it was really hard.

I’ve been wanting to ride Ring the Peak but haven’t felt I’ve been in good enough shape to enjoy it. Late last year a mountain bike race on the Ring the Peak Trail was announced and I promptly signed up. Although I was far from in shape, it was more than 9 months away so I’d have plenty of time to train.

Fast forward more than 6 of those months and I’m still not in shape. In between we decided to move to a different house and that has been a long, time consuming ordeal. The Leadville 100 is only a month away, we’re in our new house and I’ve got to get in shape quickly.

So when when Ryan invited me a few weeks ago on a recon ride of the Ring the Peaks Trail so he could get a GPS track for the race, I started thinking about going along. Even though my longest ride this year had only been 4 hours, I found myself in Manitou Springs just after 5:30 AM Saturday July 9th prepared to attempt to ride an expected 10+ hours.

I was running a little late and had underestimated just how bad the parking has become with all the people hiking the Manitou Incline. By the time I figured out where I could park for more than 3 hours and rode up to the Ring the Peaks trailhead, it was nearly 6 o’clock. Unfortunately I had missed Ryan and PJ but could see their fresh tire tracks on the trail. Even though it would have been nice to start with them, I didn’t expect to be able to keep up with them and had planned on riding most of the day by myself.

Soon the UPT trail became a hike-a-bike but it wasn’t long until I was at the top of the steep section. From there the route follows the UPT until dropping down to the gate at US 24 across from the Waldo Canyon trailhead. Fortunately at that time of the morning the traffic wasn’t bad on US 24 and I was in Cascade soon enough.

View from Mount Esther TrailSoon after riding past the turn to the Pikes Peak Highway, it was time to head for higher elevations. After I turned onto Picabo Road, it just kept getting steeper and steeper. By the top I think it was the steepest paved road I’ve been on.

A left turn From Picabo Road on to Mountain Road brought me to the Mount Esther Trail. Mountain Road wasn’t much of a road and looked more like a dirt driveway. Except for a couple very short sections, Mt. Esther Trail was about a 30 minute hike-a-bike that climbed high above Chipita Park.

South Catamount ReservoirThe reward for climbing up Mt. Esther was some great riding through the trees on a mix of singletrack and access roads. I passed Crystal Reservoir and South and North Catamount Reservoirs. A bit of the route used part of the Sand Creek Series Catamount course that I raced back in the mid-90s and hadn’t ridden up there since.

After riding through more beautiful areas, the route popped out onto the graded road just below the Crags Campground. I rode into the campground and used the pump there to get some water. I thought I had at least close to enough water left to get me to the Gillette Flats spring but didn’t want to run out. I only half filled my 100 oz bladder because I didn’t want to carry more weight than I needed to.

In between the Crags campground and the descent from Horsethief Park down to CO 67, there are couple climbs with a fun descent in between. By the 2nd of this climbs, I was definitely feeling the ride and wasn’t too happy to be climbing. It didn’t take long though to get over the top and do the fun descent through Horsethief Park and down to CO 67.

CO 67 is a gradual climb and has quite a bit of traffic with people going to Cripple Creek but isn’t too long. I started feeling a couple twinges of cramps soon after getting to the road. I stopped, took some Endurolytes and sat down for a short break the first time on the ride. After a few minutes, I continued on to the spring along CO 67 and filled up the full 100 ounces.

Cathedral Rocks along Gold Camp RoadFrom there I had a few easy miles on Highway 81 and Gold Camp Road. I spun easy and tried saving some energy because I had an idea of what was coming up.

All too soon I was at the left turn to start up the Beaver Creek access road to the Pikes Peak South Slope reservoirs. I had never ridden it before but I was up it in a car last summer when I hiked on the Pikes Peak South Slope. I remembered it as being steep and the GPS track from Scott Morris’ ride report also showed it as a steep climb.

I stopped to get something from my pack and 2 guys that were bike packing rode by. They told me Ryan and BJ were just behind them. I was surprised to hear that and wondered where I had passed them.

It wasn’t long before I heard someone call my name and looked back to see Ryan with BJ not far behind him. It turned out they had stopped at the KOA on Highway 81 for a snack. Apparently I rode by while they were stopped.

Just after joining with Ryan and BJ, it started raining. It poured but fortunately only for about 5 minutes and the lightening wasn’t too close.

We rode up to the gate that blocks access to the Pikes Peak Slope reservoirs. From there the Ring the Peaks route heads up a steep, washed out jeep road. The bike packers were stopped there and we all took a short break.

Pikes Peak from Old Seven Steps RoadThen we started the hike-a-bike on up to the 11,300 high point. I was feeling low on energy and as we went up the other 4 slowly pulled ahead. Then I totally bonked and it was all I could do to keep moving forward. As I neared the top, it wasn’t as steep and I should have been able to ride but it was all I could do to just walk. Once over the top, it was a quick descent down to Elk Park.

Just after starting the short climb up from Deer Park to the Almagre Road, I meet a big Ram truck coming toward me on a narrow rocky section. He stopped so I could go by but the truck pretty much took up the whole road. I thought I could ride up on the bank a little to get by.

My rear wheel slid out when I was halfway past the truck. I had trouble un-clipping and pretty much fell over before I got out of my pedals. Just as I slid out, the guy decided to pull forward to try giving me more room. I watched in horror as my rear wheel slid in front of his back wheel and he rolled on to it.

He saw it happening and stopped. There I sat squatting on the bank of the road looking at a big, heavy truck with it’s back wheel covering my tire, rim and a couple inches of my spokes on the edge farthest from me. I had the guy back up so he wouldn’t drive over more of my wheel.

I was amazed to see that my rim wasn’t crushed but didn’t know how much it would be bent. I pulled the bike up and gave the wheel a spin. It had a pretty good wobble to it but not bad enough for the tire to hit the rim. The guy felt really bad and I think would have given me a ride but I told him I thought I’d be able to ride it.

I was a bit cautious as I started riding but everything felt Ok. It wasn’t long until I was up to the Almagre Road and ready to start descending nearly 5,000 feet to town below by way of the Jones Park downhill.

It didn’t take long until I was down to the 701 trailhead. A thunderstorm was moving in and lightening was closer than I liked. I had thought maybe the other 4 guys would wait at the trailhead but wasn’t surprised to see they were gone with the storm so close.

Columbin Along Cheyenne CreekAlthough one way to get to Jones Park is to stay on the 701 trail, the Ring the Peak route quickly turns onto the 668 Trail for some steep descending. The 668 Trail then becomes the Pipeline Trail and is fairly flat most of the way over to Jones Park. Once at Jones Park, the trail turns downhill again on Captain Jacks and then on down the 666 Trail to High Drive.

After going a short distance down High Drive, the Ring the Peak Trail turns onto the Palmer Trail and then uses Section 16 and Intemann over to Manitou. The Ring the Peak 100(ish)k race can’t use this section and so we weren’t planning to ride it. I had nothing left in my legs for it anyway and was happy to continue down to Old Colorado City and then spin easily back into Manitou Springs.

It certainly was an epic day on the mountain bike and every bit as tough as I’d been hearing. I ended up with almost exactly 65 miles and 9 hours and 40 minutes of ride time on the GPS. It kept auto pausing on the hike-a-bike sections so I was probably moving a little more time than that. Total elapsed time was nearly 11.5 hours. Cumulative climbing came in at 10,885 feet.

I’ve put the Ring the Peak map and elevation profile over here.

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Assault on the Peak in 3D

February 14th, 2011

The inaugural Assault on the Peak, the bike ride from Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak, was filmed in 3D by Convergent Design. I talked to the 2 guys shooting the video briefly at Crystal Reservoir. They said they were shooting it to show off some 3D capability which I’m guessing is their nano3D product.

I don’t have any 3D glasses laying around so I’m not sure how it looks in 3D. If you have some blue and red 3D glasses, take a look at it and leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look they got any footage from above timberline. In the version I embedded above, Peak Region Cyclist added in a few still photos.

Registration for the 2011 Assault on the Peak opens tomorrow and has a reduced entry price of $150 through April 30th. After that it will be $180 and day of ride registration will be $200.

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Draft Manitou Incline Plan to be Presented Tomorrow

October 20th, 2010

Manitou Incline

The next public meeting on legalizing hiking the Manitou Incline is tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 21st) at 7 PM at Manitou’s City Hall. The draft Manitou Incline plan will be presented and people will be able to give their feedback. The plan is based on input from the Incline meeting in June plus 3 focused workshops held in July.

The Forest Service had estimated that about 70,000 trips were made up the Incline a year. To get a better count, the task force put an automated counter on the No Trespassing sign. In September it counted 23,562 hikers. I don’t know if it was sophisticated enough to count just those going up or if it also counted people when they came down.

I know the couple times I was on the Incline in September there were probably only about half the hikers that I saw in June and July. The winter months see much lower usage so it’s possible that’s close to the average over the year. That would mean there could be 300,000 or more trips up the Incline a year.

The plan lays out 3 different stages, A, B and C. Stage A proposals are low cost for the most part and ares limited to management requirements for legally opening the Manitou Incline and critical improvements.

Proposed Changes in Stage A

The Incline crosses Colorado Springs Utilities, Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Forest Service land and about the bottom half is within Manitou Springs city limits. In order to simplify management, a single management entity is recommended. Only Colorado Springs and Manitou have expressed interest. The proposal is for Colorado Springs to be the management entity in partnership with Manitou. A special use permit will be needed for Colorado Springs to manage the trail within the National Forest.

Manitou Incline from Pikes Peak Cog Railway Parking LotTo make the Barr Trail parking lot more available to people hiking Barr Trail, the access to the Manitou Incline from the Barr Parking lot will be closed. The official trailhead will be at the true bottom of the Incline in the Pikes Peak Cog Railway parking lot. The Cog will lose 10-15 parking spots but be given designated spots on Ruxton in exchange.

The Barr Trail parking lot will become a paid parking lot. A gate activated by a credit card will collect the fee. The shorter the stay in the parking lot, the more it will cost to encourage it to left for those doing longer hikes on Barr Trail.

Parking is already an issue for those hiking the Incline and the proposed plan will make it even worse. Because residents haven’t been able to park near their houses, 59 parking spaces will be reserved for residents. In the narrowest section of Ruxton where I thought it wasn’t safe to walk up, 8 parking spaces will be removed to make it safer for pedestrians. These changes along with discouraging parking in the Barr Trail parking lot will remove about 100 of the 200 parking spaces that have been available. To offset some of it in the morning, the Cog will make 40 spaces available until 9 AM.

Eroded Steep Part of Manitou InclineFor safety and to reduce environmental degradation, the center part of the Incline will be stabilized and drainage controls put in place. The worst sections will be worked on first. Later phases will address sections that aren’t as eroded.

The social trail that connects the top of the Incline to Barr Trail will be rerouted to reduce erosion since parts of it currently are considerably too steep. They are also proposing a new trail to the north from the summit down to the Ute Indian Trail to reduce the use of Barr Trail. It seems the Forest Service is pushing for the new trail but it seems pretty ambitious for Phase A.

Minimal signage will be placed that will have a map and rules of use. Most of the rules are common sense things like use at your own risk, stay on the trail and carry out your trash. I have issues with 2 of the rules though. They are dawn to dusk use only and no pets.

City Lights from Top of Manitou InclineI think the dawn to dusk rule comes from complaints from residents about car doors slamming too early in the morning. I can understand that since I’m not a morning person. In the summer dawn to dusk may not be too bad but during the winter it would prevent hiking it after work even though it’s not that late. I think they should have a rule against parking in residential areas outside of certain hours but not have designated hours for the Incline. At a minimum they should allow hiking until 9 PM whether or not it’s light.

Manitou Incline in Snow StormDogs on trails seems to really get some people worked up even though in general Colorado is very dog friendly. I always hike the Incline with my dog because he loves it and needs the exercise. In the past I let him run free and the other dogs on the Incline were friendly and I didn’t have any issues. This summer when it became so crowded there were aggressive dogs on leashes that would lunge and snap at my dog when he walked up to them so I ended up keeping him leashed.

I think dogs should be allowed but they could require them to be leashed and prohibit the dangerous 15 foot or longer leashes. Owners should also pick up after their dogs.

For the most part the draft plan is reasonable and balances the needs of the Manitou Incline hikers with those of the residents and the Cog Railway. There are a few things I don’t like and don’t think are needed. I plan to be there to give my input and I suggest you also attend.

You can find the draft plan and other Incline information on Manitou Springs website.

For more information, please contact Aimee Cox at 719-385-6532 or aicox@springsgov.com.


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