August 23, 2008 at 3:58 am #58584
2008 Colorado Classic 1000!
Denver to Cripple Creek, the long way around…A thousand miles in a day!
August 16-17, 2008
Ken Krumm, RA #27812
The 2008 Colorado Classic 1000, hosted by the Colorado BMW Motorcycle Club, is an annual long-distance riding event which asks participants to ride 1000 miles in a day! This event is sanctioned by the Iron Butt Association® as an official SaddleSore 1000 endurance rally and is limited to 125 entrants. This year’s route departed the Denver area for the historic gold rush town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, the long way around! It followed scenic, two-lane highways across the Colorado high country, climbing mountain passes totaling almost 100,000 feet in vertical elevation and crossing the Continental Divide at four locations.
I participated in this year’s event were two other riders from Kansas. We departed Kansas for Lakewood, CO on Friday, August 14th. We arrived later that afternoon at the Lakewood Holiday Inn and registered for the event. The route was unknown until we signed in. After signing all the release forms, we were issued the route for this year’s event. Before registration, I was convinced the route would travel north to Cheyenne, Wyoming and then west on the fast Interstate 80 to western Colorado. Unfortunately, the event organizers had other ideas. This year’s route was very aggressive for a Saddle Sore 1000, with very little interstate and twelve continental divide passes. When you’re attempting to cover 1000 miles in less than 24 hours, fast straight interstates are desired. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Adding to the complicated route was unseasonable weather. On Friday night, the weather forecast called for statewide rain and the Eisenhower Tunnel was already having problems with snow and slush. It became obvious that the Colorado Classic 1000 was not another Iron Butt ticket punch event.
The event began at 5:00 AM Saturday morning when we departed the Lakewood, Colorado in heavy rain. Our first big hurtle was getting over Berthoud Pass. As we gained altitude on Interstate 70, the temperatures dropped into the 30s-40s with a very cold rain. After turning north, we passed through Empire towards Berthoud Pass. At 9,000 feet, the road turning into a couple inches of slush. It became evident that Crossing Berthoud Pass at 11,000 feet was out of the question. Unfortunately, while discussing our options standing in two inches of slush, my BMW K1100LT center stand sunk into the mud and fell on its right side, causing minor damage. The road down to Empire was very treacherous, but we turned around and rode back to the interstate, passing through Eisenhower Tunnel to Dillon with more slush and snow. Luckily, truck traffic kept two tire tracks open.
At Dillon, Colorado, we stopped for gas and the rode Highway 9 to Waldron, Colorado to get back onto the original designated route. This detour added about 50 miles and over an hour in time. Just north of Dillon (about 10 miles) the road without warning turned to slush and we came upon two bikes down. The first bike was a Honda Goldwing that went down on its left side, in the middle of the road. About a half dozen folks were attempting to get this behemoth vertical. The second bike was a BMW K1200GT that went off the road into a ravine, and was wedged between two trees. Needless to say, it was totaled and needed a wrecker to retrieve. Both riders were ok. The Honda Goldwing rider mounted his bike and continued on.
We continued north to Waldron and fortunately, the skies began to clear and it warmed into the 40s. Thank God for electric jacket liners and heated grips. As we passed into Wyoming, the roads dried and we started to make up time. However, we were behind schedule and the roads had a lot of curves. By the time we arrived at Baggs, Wyoming, we were only 250 miles into the event and 5½ had already passed. We needed to make time.
Fortunately, the roads from Baggs all the way to almost Cortez, Colorado were mostly straight, wide open and fast. Our only concern was a large amount of open ranges with cattle on the roads. Meeker, Colorado was our first designate gas stop. The weather warmed into the 80s by the time we arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado, with beautiful blue skies. We were able to push the speed limit a bit arriving at the 500 mile mark in 9 1/2 hours. So we took our first 15 minute break at Grand Junction. Before this time, it was just gas and go. South of Grand Junction, we rode Highway 141 through Gateway, Colorado on one of the most beautiful roads in the U.S.
We continue to push our speeds knowing the last 400 miles would be all mountains. Near Cortez, Colorado, we were back in the mountains and rode Highway 145 to Rico, Colorado, our second mandatory gas stop. After our second 15 minute break, we departed Rico for Placerville, Colorado, then onto Montrose, Colorado. It was now dark and we were on Highway 50 heading towards Gunnison. The mountains were slow, and we were quickly loosing the time we made up from Baggs, Wyoming to Cortez, Colorado.
We had one major hurtle that had worried me all day: Monarch Pass. We were on schedule to cross Monarch Pass at 11:00 PM and rain was on the mountain. We took a gas stop at Gunnison, Colorado and pushed on under a full moon. But that was short lived. By the time we arrived at the top of the mountain, the temperature dropped to 36 degrees. Fortunately, we were 30 minutes behind the rain and were able to watch the thunderstorm continue moving away. We crossed Monarch Pass with steaming wet roads and plenty of deer.
With Monarch Pass behind us, we continued through Salida, Colorado to Highway 9 and traveled north, where we picked up a county road to Cripple Creek, Colorado. For me, this was the most dangerous road of the day with open range (cattle near the roads), plenty of deer, new wet chip & seal, tight curves and hills, cold temps, tired bones and light rain.
We arrived at Cripple Creek at 1:18 AM with plenty of time to complete the event (end time was 5:00 AM). This event was limited to 125 participants. However, the word must have gotten out from last years event (the route changes every year) on the difficulty of the mountains and only 45 registered. With the rain and cold, eight participants decided not to start and 12 did not finish. Out of the remaining 25 participants, the best time arrived a 11:30 PM. I doubt he actually completed the designated rally route, since you only had to return with a 1000 + miles and gas receipts for Meeker and Rico. It really didn’t matter. It wasn’t a race. It was an individual rally within a time limit.
When you consider the damage to my bike, dangerous road conditions, near misses with cattle and deer, cold wet rain, and fatigue, I was left with the feeling that this was one of the dumbest rides I have ever completed. But oddly, I will probably do it again sometime in the future. I’ve participated in Iron Butt rides before. However, this route was designed for accomplished Iron Butt competitors, and not a group of volunteers as advertised. Even with all the difficulty, I enjoyed the event. Events that push your limits teach you a little about yourself, both good and bad. Nonetheless, participants need to understand the risk involved and their own capabilities.August 23, 2008 at 3:58 am #60815
Colorado Classic 1000 Route
North of Empire, Colorado – Saturday, 6:00 AM
[IMG]http://i205.photobucket.com/albums/bb12/kenk_bucket/CopyofPicture013.jpg[/IMG]August 23, 2008 at 3:58 am #60821
Glad you made it OK Ken. It is not an easy 1000 mile rally, and this year it was compounded by the cold, moisture laden weather visiting the state at the same time.
Great report.August 23, 2008 at 3:58 am #60837
Here’s a couple starting line photos of my K1100LT taken of me by the event organizers.
Here’s the Colorado Classic 1000 Website with more photos.
[url]http://coloradobeemers.smugmug.com/gallery/5710285_xcpxS#358255543_pXjzP[/url]August 23, 2008 at 3:58 am #62173
I know this is a couple years old now, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This is my back yard and I’m familiar with most of the route. However you got me excited to see route 141 so I’ll be heading there soon. Very well written, enjoyable report. Thanks!
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