Sanity Returns

So the addition of a second child has been a wonderful experience, but as expected it has cramped my style a bit. Sleep has been compromised (no real surprise there, right?). With the diminished sleep has come suppressed energy levels and thus motivation to ride. Of course all of this is temporary and a very small price to pay when you factor in the joys of parenthood. Fortunately, time, sleep, energy and motivation have become a bit more abundant in my life so I decided to return to riding with a bang.

I’ve lived in Colorado Springs for over ten years now and most of that time I’ve heard stories of this legendary ride from Colorado Springs down to Penrose, up Phantom Canyon and through Victor and Cripple Creek before descending back down to Colorado Springs. To add fuel to the fire, the boys from Rapha tackled this ride last summer. You can check out their short film if you’re interested in seeing some images of the area.

From my starting point on the Westside of town, this is a 122-mile loop, which amounted to 7 ½ hours of riding, 4100kj, and about 7,200 feet of elevation gain. You top out at 10,160 feet as you climb up out of Cripple Creek, another mining town from days of yore. Phantom Canyon is old railroad bed that winds its way up an absolutely amazing canyon, through a few tunnels and over several bridges (including one that has the wooden planks parallel to direction of the bridge and it has two turns in it, pretty amazing).  And yes, those gaps are wide enough to swallow a road tire.



Said Canyon also involves 24 miles of dirt road climbing, taking you from 5,332 feet up to Victor at 9695 feet. Since it is an old railroad bed, the grade is pretty mellow at 3-4% most of the way. While this would seem to be pretty mundane on a paved road, after a couple of hours on a rough surface and ever increasing elevation, I was more than happy to see the once boom town of Victor.

As we made our way down Highway 50 towards Canon City, I spotted a Roadrunner along the side of the road. This is only the second one I’ve ever seen in Colorado, so I took it as omen that we were in for a good day.

We gathered a small group, four of us in total, so we would have some shelter from the wind, but we would also be able to minimize the likelihood of delays from flats, mechanicals, etc. For the most part this approach worked pretty well, but we did have one emergency bowel evacuation partway up Phantom Canyon. Luckily there are two small rest areas along the climb, so crisis was averted and we were on our way. After about halfway up the climb, we had separated into four small groups, our own little armies of one. Misery loves company, but sometimes misery loves solitude. We trickled into Victor in hopes of finding a 7-11 and all the wonderful gifts that it has to offer, but we quickly learned that Victor is not the type of town to cater to the corporate establishments. After a quick glance down both streets of downtown Victor, we quickly settled on The Fortune Club, not necessarily because it looked like the best choice, but because it was the only choice. Turns out The Fortune Club makes a some mean pies and an equally delicious cinnamon roll. In the men’s room they even have a wash basin and hose, which made for an excellent impromptu shower.

the fortune club

pie and cinnamon rolls

After way too long in Victor, we plunged down to Cripple Creek at 9,508 feet. A quick stop there to grab some Gatorade and we were on our way. After a short climb up above Cripple Creek we were treated to a 13-mile descent back to Divide and the final push back home down Highway 24 through Woodland Park.

I arrived home tired yet satisfied. It had been a while since I’d pushed through a ride like that. Amazing ride shared with great friends and full of laughs as we remembered some great times and created some new memories. Along the way, I was also presented with the opportunity to tackle La Ruta de los Conquistadores this year and this has definitely helped renew my motivation to get my ass in gear.  I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in, but I think this one is going to require a little something extra.

If you’re ever in the Front Range, I highly suggest you give this ride a shot-Phantom Canyon won’t disappoint.  Check out the route for more details.

In case you haven’t wasted enough of your day aimlessly searching for the end of the internet, here is a nice little distraction for the day. Don’t be a twatwaffle, know the rules as laid out by the Velominati lads.  I’m not sure I’m in full agreement with all of the rules, but I do find most of them amusing and applicable.

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About Legs

Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

25 thoughts on “Sanity Returns

  1. I’ve did some part of that ride years ago when visiting the springs… up the hill out of CS, through 3 tunnels i believe it was, almost to Cripple Creek then some single track back to town if i recall correctly. then i seem to remember a titty bar over by another titty bar…. oh well.

  2. @mitch that was most likely Gold Camp Road, which is also another railroad bed and will lead you into Victor but from the east rather than the south. prior to arriving in Victor you turn off on a forest service road and connect to the trail head. that is a great mountain bike ride and a local favorite as well.

  3. Legs, what can I say? I like your style and I like your challenges. After seeing the shots of the Rapha boys on that route, it makes me miss the mining country here in AZ. Seems we share similar roads then, Co & AZ. And so I’d give a tank of gas for a ride like that, Thus, I will. Soon. On my next free day.

    Thanks for the inspiration, and good luck with your prep for La Ruta. I’ve heard that one kicks you in the taint pretty good.

  4. Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?

    Wait?!? All 79 of them?!?

  5. currently in violation of at least 3 of those rules…going to have to try a little harder

  6. Holy shit! The rules are awesome. Funny how you realize how much of that shit matters, but never seen it articulated thusly.
    Funny, though, no mention of yam stuffing and bib shorts.

  7. Just re-read this post.


    Pull that off with kids and shit ?

    I have a cat and can’t find the time or energy for that.

    Good on you man.

    If ya’ll will excuse me. I’m going off to contemplate how weak and worthless I am.

    Getting stronger everyday tho. Cue the Rocky theme.

  8. I’ve been reading the rules. I like the rules. I have only minor complaints. 1) I have mtb pedal on my road bike because I have a badass set of mtb pedals and zero road pedals that I can use with my current road shoes (i.e., they’re not SPD-R compatible). 2) Family does come first. The only men who make claims otherwise do not have families. Or, alternatively, the only men who make claims otherwise are shitty fathers to their children. There I said it. I’ve been going out pre-dawn so I can be back to make waffles for my daughters when they wake up. That’s what I do. I am harder than you. 3) Shaving your legs when you’re a fat, useless, topped-out-at-Cat-4, 40 year old third year law student is substantially more pathetic (i.e., lamer) than anything on the entire list. I shall not shave. And, I shall not suffer complaint regarding my choice of action. 4) Saddle bags are appropriate on a road bike when one has all three pockets stuffed with either, a) clothes, b) food, c) clothes and food. 5) My preferred choice of pump, for both road and mountain biking applications, is a Zefal road pump mounted below the top-tube with one black velcro strap. CO2 cannisters are appropriate only in MTB racing. The use of CO2 to inflate a tire on a training ride is for the weak. If you cannot handle inflating your tires like a man, the only acceptable alternative is to utilize the system.

  9. bj – werd. I don’t have kids, but if I did, that’s exactly what I’d say about the family rules.

    Zefal HPx. Period. Couple of drops of Phil Wood in the barrel once a year, and it’ll last decades. If you can’t pump your tire up by hand, whether it’s either 25°F, 105°F, or anywhere in-between, then you are a pussy and you need to harden the fuck up. CO2 is a waste in anything but a race situation.

  10. Big Johnny, “the system” writeup is one of the finer expositions I have come across in a while.

    Legs, that looks like a beauty ride. That awesome write-up almost compensates for the Rapha site visit you invoked.

  11. Couldn’t make it all the way through “the rules”. Everything that makes sense, most people already know. The rest-Well I suppose the blogger has an audience now, for whatever it’s worth.

    But I have time on my hands and my second (or is it fourth?) drink of the day at hand, so idle curiosity compels me to ask-What do “the rules” say about a man who rides anywhere and everywhere, in whatever clothes he happens to be wearing, on whatever bike (almost always fixed gear) that happens to be available?

    Not that I give a fuck. Just curious.

  12. The system sounds like the equivalent of riding in the sand…probably hard to stay on the ground once you put your light wheels back on and a quick way to harden the fuck up.

  13. “when cycling rules are outlawed, only outlaw cyclists will have…something, something, something”

    …awww, fuck it, who knows ???…lotta those rules are absolutes but just like anybody else, i’m gonna pick n’ choose as i damn well please…

    …great fun read, though…

  14. The System is the worst. I tried it for about a month while livig in Tucson, and while it made the regular wheels feel incredible, nothing was worth the depression that I experienced while riding The System.

    I suppose BGR can take credit for exposing us to that during our Domenic’s days, or who is to blame?

  15. elSid, I built my first fixie about seven years ago. Was reading Sheldon Brown and figured it was what middleaged curmudgeons rode; so being one myself, I did. Nothing I have done before or since has captured that euphoric sense when one is eight years old and all the world is new.