Ring The Peak
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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 elevation gain).
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.