ring the peak

Yesterday me and 4 other single speeders did the entire ring the peak trail system (well as much of it as is open currently). This ride has in some ways been in the works for years. Everyone has been talking about doing it but we have sort of hoped that they would open the missing sections of trail and allow access to the sections that are off limits right now. I think eventually Jon grew tired of always talking about doing that loop and never actually doing it so he nailed down a date and let everyone know. I was pretty on the fence about it at first because I wasn’t sure I was up for it or not but Joey talked me into it. The more web research I did about the trail the more excited I became. It seemed like it would be a really fun adventure and it would be nice to check that ride off my list of rides to do. We met up at Jon’s house at 5:30 in the morning. The group was me, Jon, Paul, Joey, Doug and Eric. The only person I didn’t know was Eric and he was from Denver by way of North Carolina. We were all on single speed mountain bikes but Eric was riding a vicious cycles motivator set up as a fixed gear with only a front brake. I have ridden with a few fixed mountain bikers and watching them ride technical stuff was never very pretty so I questioned how he would do at first. He quickly proved he was more than up for it. I rode behind Eric on a bunch of really technical stuff and I was beyond impressed with his technique and ability on that bike. Here is a quick run down of every ones bikes.

My indy ti deluxe

Jon’s ground up 650b

Eric’s fixed gear vicious motivator

Doug’s 88 marin

Paul’s coconino

Joey’s redline

We left Jon’s at 5:30 sharp and by the time we reached the Ute pass trail Joey had some bad luck with the sidewall of his tire and hand to boot it and change a flat. It was still pretty cold at this point. I remember when we stopped I noticed steam rising off everyone.

After fixing waiting for joey to fix his tire we reached a split in the trail. Technically the ring the peak route follows the Ute pass trail the whole way but there is a single track to the left that stays a little more level and is way more fun to ride so we opted to take the single track.

Once we reached Highway 24 we made pretty good time up to green mountain falls and easily found Picabo Road which was much steeper than any of us expected. The Mt. Esther trail head was pretty over grown and could be easy to miss if you weren’t keeping your eyes peeled. It is a pretty intense hike all the way to the top. Most of the reason we left so early was so we could get that hike out of the way while the sun was still pretty low. The hike came and went and wasn’t as bad as I had expected. At the top we stopped and ate for a few before taking a right on the single track at the top.


The section of trail from the top of Mt Esther to the crystal creek reservoir was great. It was a little over grown from all the rain we have been getting but all the climbs were doable and the downhills were techy and fun. Once it spit us out on the road we had some rolling service road climbs over to the Catamount reservoir. Once we reached Catamount we were faced with another option. We could either stick to the service road or take the single track that goes around the the reservoir. We again opted for the single track instead of jeep road. It was not a choice we regretted. The single track around the north side of the reservoir was fast and fun. It eventually dumped us out at a feeder pipe for the reservoir that was was spewing air and water about a foot into the air.



After that the trail dumps you out on some double track that rolls for a while through some meadows. We reached the base of the climb and decided this would be a good place to filter water, eat lunch and consult the map.




The climb after we stopped picked up pretty steep in spots and was a pretty hard push up and over the top. We had rollers after that and soon enough we were descending down into the Crags camp ground. The Pikes Peak hill climb was going on that day so the side of the road was lined with parked cars from people that were hiking up the Crags to watch the race. Once we reached the trail head at the top of the crags camp ground we ran into a family camping with a screaming child. She was standing near the edge of the trail screaming at the top of her lungs. I remember being able to hear her for a good portion of that climb. It wasn’t very pleasant sound to hear when you are already in your pain cave.


After that climb on one of the descents I noticed one of the largest uprooted trees I had ever seen. I got a bee in my helmet and had to stop so I figured I would snap a picture of it.

After that we had a bit more climbing ahead of us. We stopped just before the switch backs and ate. Doug and I relaxed on this really soft moss next to the trail. I felt temped to lay down and take a nap but that whole area was swarming with mosquitoes so I am sure that would not have worked out.


After we ate we had a gut buster of a climb that was a good mix of smooth and technical single track.

After we crested the top of that climb we had a really fun rocky descent down into Horsethief Park. After the rocky section we passed through this meadow that had an amazing view.

After that section we quickly dropped down to 67 and started the dreaded road section up towards Gillett.

Gillet has an awesome spring on the side of the road and we filled up and got water. I drank a full bottle in no time and filled up my other two bottles and we headed out.

We then headed up 67 to the turn off for 81 and took that for a while until we hit the turn off for gold camp road. Gold camp was mainly flat with some slight downhill sections. It was a fun little push. Everyone was in good spirits and we joked and talked the entire down to the turn off for FR 379. We turned left and started the death march climb up to 7 steps road.



The Climb up 379 starts off mellow and soon gets really steep and doesn’t give you an inch of breathing room until you crest out a mile or two from the turn off for 7 steps. I was in deep into my pain cave up that entire time. I kept thinking about how nice it will be when the full ring the peak trail is finished and we can connect pancake rocks over to that area and bypass 67 and gold camp. I hope that land swap goes through soon because it would add some much needed single track to the loop. We stopped and at at the base of the climb and rested and ate. The jeep road climb up from there was a brutal loose hike. I was cursing my rock filled sidi shoes the entire way up.



After a few miles of hike a bike the road mellowed out and rolled in the meadow at elk park near Alamgre. At this point the air was pretty thin and you could feel it in your legs and lungs. We all rode pretty mellow through that section. After that we sort of traversed the side of Almagre and then hit the jeep road down to Jones park.

It was nice to be on familiar ground at this point. We sat on the log we always sit on and ate and talked for a little before heading down pipeline. we all warned Eric about how rocky it was but he proved me be a much better technical rider on that fixed gear than any of could have ever expected. He rode that whole trail like a champ. I rode behind him on the rockiest section and watched him pick his way through the boulders like he had ridden that trail a thousand times. I also watched him air it out off a decent sized drop pedaling in the air and landing smooth. I have never seen anything like it. I am not really into the whole fixed gear thing but Eric is a impressive rider for sure.


By the time we reached the 666 trail I was super happy we were on the home stretch although I was quickly reminded we still had to climb Palmer trail up to Section 16.

We stopped and filtered water near High drive and then headed on down to the Palmer trail climb. I have never walked that climb and I didn’t plan on it that day but it took everything in me to keep the pedals turning up that climb at the end of the day. By the time I reached the top I was super tired and was ready to put the ride to bed. We ate headed down the Section 16 trail towards the Intemann Trail.


We rode the Intemann trail back to crystal park road and headed back into the springs. We stopped for a minute and said goodbye to everyone and headed back to the downtown area with Joey and Doug. It was a great day and I think it was my favorite ride of the year. Joey kept my spirits high by riding with me when I was hurting. I am glad I am glad I decided to go. We are already talking about doing it again next year.

I have no clue on exact mileage or time. I sort of lost track of time but when Paul downloads the info from his gps I will update this with all of that info.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted July 21, 2009 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    “Impressive” would be a severe understatement. Very cool trip and report.

  2. Posted July 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see more MTBers riding this beast of a loop. Thanks for the writeup and link.

    I agree that it’ll be awesome when the full loop is available as (mostly) singletrack. It’ll be harder though…

    I have a page about the route here:

    http://www.bikepacking.net/routes/ring-the-peak/

    I’ll get a link to your writeup here, and let me know what your time was so I can log all completions of the loop.

  3. Steve Crosby
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Nice ride guys… it looks like the very definition of an epic ride!
    Steve

  4. Posted July 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Super Sweet!

  5. Joey
    Posted July 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Boyer, cool pix! Good write up. It was fun, wasn’t it? Paul’s stats are something like 9 hours ride time, two hours sitting and stuffing our faces time, 72 miles and 10800 feet of climbing.

    Got your email. No problem. Glad you went, and really glad I was back in town for that weekend! In Canada now, and it appears we’ll be having a crazy-rainy World Cup weekend… blech.

  6. Posted August 14, 2009 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Hey scott,
    That seems like an amazing ride. Thanks for the great words.

  7. Posted August 20, 2009 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    rad


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