07/16/2006 – Ring Around Pikes Peak, by mountain bike
A few years ago I heard about a group, Friends
of the Peak, linking up about 65miles of trails AROUND Pikes Peak for a “tour de Pikes”
called Ring The Peak. It piqued my interest immediately since I knew most of the
trails and it would be a nice change going around Pikes instead of up and down
Pikes. Guy Babbitt (easy to talk into anything that’s potentially a
suffer-fest) and I have talked about mtn biking this for a few years but always
got side tracked (drunken trips to Cripple Creek, giving up the ride at Cascade,
weather, etc etc etc). We were going to give it a try once again last Sunday,
but Mother Nature had different plans for us and we were determined to ride it
this past w/end counter clockwise.
6:15am Sunday morning came and it was already freakin’ warm. We started from
Guy’s house down in Cheyenne Canon with tons of food, 100oz Gatorade each, and
hopped on Trail Section 16 then the Intemann Trail which took us over to Manitou
Springs. We’ve both ridden these sections hundreds of times and love ‘em.
All single track, some technical sections, ear to ear grinnin’ fun. From
Manitou, it’s a loose utilities double track trail along Ute Pass Trail with
plenty of hike-a-bike and short downhills. Once you get to Cascade it’s
confusing and we got lost where we’ve been lost several times before around
French Creek and ended up on highway 24 (Ring The Peak=1; Us=0) riding to
familiar territory. In Cascade you follow roads to Mt Ester Trail which
switch-backs up and over a steep ridge. This was pure suffer-fest and not a
chance to ride. We gawked at it and counted down the switchbacks with smiles on
wishing it was longer and steeper (Ring The Peak=1; Us=1). Gettin’ hotter and
hotter! A brief section of not so steep single track through Aspen groves and
tall grass before waving goodbye to Green Mtn Falls way below. More utilities
roads towards Catamount Reservoir where we refilled our empty CamelBaks and
cooled off in the chilly water. So far it had been 5hours, we’ve averaged
3.5mph, BUT we can finally see the north side of Pikes. (Ring The Peak=2; Us=1).
More utilities road, a super fun section of single track on the Limber Pine
trail then another brutal and humid uphill as we got closer and closer to the
Mennonite Camp near the Crags Campground on the west side of Pikes Peak. At the
Crags CG we refilled empty CamelBaks once again and figured we were at the high
point (Ring The Peak=2; Us=2). There are some private property issues from here
so we came up with a plan after studying the Pikes Peak Atlas (my favorite map).
We got to the end of FS383 and attempted to find some trails in Horsethief
Park…another area that I’ve been lost in several times. Bushwhacking up a
hill of fallen timber (Ring The Peak=3; Us=2) got us where we needed to be then
fun and rocky downhill to highway 67. This was some of the only pavement of the
ride and we rode it towards the mining town of Victor, near Cripple Creek, and
turned onto Gold Camp Road, excited to peel away a bunch of miles on RxR grade.
This was about 9hrs into the ride and we were SO ready for it to be done….but
still having fun, of course! A mis-calculated shortcut and we were once again
dragging our bikes up a slope of fallen timber to the road (Ring The Peak=4;
Us=2), why do we keep getting into these situations every time Guy and I ride
together?! Oh well, makes for good stories! After 15miles or so of RxR grade, we
got to Rosemont Reservoir and our final hill up to Frosty’s Park. This was
just as brutal as the other hills, but this time we were about to pass out from
being so worn out and beaten up. We
smiled and joked through it knowing that we had about 4,000ft of sweet downhill
(Ring The Peak=4; Us=3). The downhill started but a lot of it was walking due to
washed out trails and giant rocks everywhere! D’oh!!!! Progress was happening
though….Nelsons Camp, Jones Park, Trail 666, views of Colorado Springs. The
riding was great, there was no pedaling, and we were close to being done.
FINALLY after 12hrs and 2mins we were pulling back into Guy’s driveway beaten,
bruised, and dirty….but ear to ear grins that couldn’t be wiped off our
faces! (Ring The Peak=4; Us=4)
We figure it was almost 70miles (my computer decided not to work) and an
absolute retarded amount of elevation gain (later trips reports show 12,000ft of
Any mountain bikers out there that love epic long days….do this! It wasn’t
epic trails the entire way, but seeing all sides of Pikes Peak makes up for it.
Another great way to ride it would be to bike half and have friends meet you at
the Crags CG for the night, then do the second part the following day.