If you want to experience one of the most beautiful century rides in Colorado, I would recommend the Colorado-Eagle River Ride (CERR) sponsored by the SOS Outreach. Now in its 11th year, the CERR is the major fund raiser for SOS which is a youth-based program that engages at-risk and underprivileged youth in winter and outdoor sports-based education programs. So, not only do you get to experience a challenging ride through stunning scenery that is extremely well supported, you also help to support a worthwhile cause.
It is considered a moderate century ride with shorter distances also supported. But, the reason I would recommend the century or metric century route is to be able to experience the beauty and remoteness along the Colorado River Road with an organization supporting you along the way. I have encapsulated my experience below along with a map and elevation profile with hopes you will join me and 800 of my closest friends in doing the ride this year on July 28, 2012.
The ride starts in Avon at the Beaver Creek parking lot and rides west along Highway 6 to Wolcott. At Wolcott, you turn up Highway 131 for the most challenging climb of the day. It is a 9 mile, 1,400’ climb to the top of the gap made easier by the cool of the morning air. The first rest stop is at the top of the climb and then it is a screaming descent with sweeping turns down into State Bridge. You are on Highway 131 for about 21 miles. It has a decent shoulder and, being out so early, the traffic is manageable. At McCoy you turn off of 131 onto the Colorado River Road. This is the road that held me off from ding this ride for so long. I had always heard there was 18 miles of dirt road on the route and didn’t think that was manageable on a road bike. It is a shame because the dirt is very hard-packed and the road is just rolling hills so you can maintain a good pace even on skinny road tires.
This is the heart of the ride and the whole reason to do the route as a supported ride. You are on the back roads of Colorado riding along the river and going through towns with populations in the double-digits. The ride is extremely well organized with rest stops that are plentiful and well-stocked. They have more than just the typical water, Gatorade, pretzels, and PBJ but also energy chews and Clif Shots.
The Colorado River Road is about 38 miles and comes out at Dotsero just before Glenwood Canyon on Highway 6. This is the lunch stop for the ride and the metric century mark. The highlight of this stop is the Ice Cream Lady who hands out free ice cream to all of the riders! Some may choose to end their ride here as the organizers have arranged for buses to take you and your bike back to Beaver Creek. For the full century ride you take Highway 6 for a gentle climb back to the finish line. Not a bad road. There has been a lot of recent work to expand the shoulder and, if you are lucky, there is generally a prevailing tail-wind from the west to carry you home.
The post-ride party is hosted by the Dusty Boot up in Beaver Creek Village. A bit disjointed as you have to take a bus up to the village from the finishing line, but the food is worth the trip and you are rewarded with a free local beer.
Don’t make the mistake I made for years by passing on this amazing ride. The scenery along the Colorado River is captivating and best-experienced from the seat of a bicycle. The remoteness is the draw and to have the chance to experience it with a support crew makes it an opportunity not to be missed.