RIDERS NOTE: As of 9/12/22 course is 95% final but some adjustments may occur through final permitting. Everyone loves a surprise, right?
At about 85 miles and 10.4k climbing, the course offers challenge enough for the hardest grinder and a great opportunity for intermediate riders to challenge themselves with the best gravel Telluride and the San Juan’s has to offer. This course is not for the beginner or untrained. The course starts in Telluride at 8750’ and for a warmup will start with a short climb toward Aldasoro Ranch followed by a fast descent to IIium road that climbs along the South Fork of the San Miguel River in the direction of Ames where the counties first commercial use of AC power was deployed. This stout gorgeous climb continues toward Ophir Pass Road and beyond as it makes its way through towering peaks and a mix of coniferous and aspen trees toward the stunning Trout Lake area and topping out near 11,000’ close to Lizard Head Pass. AID STATION #1 will be set at Lizard Head Pass. From there riders will track the flowy and astoundingly scenic galloping goose single track descent tracing the old narrow gauge rail road tracks. Riders will then have a reprieve as the trail turns west along the meandering San Miguel River. Take it in because riders will then climb Wilson Mesa the iconic plateau at the base of the Wilson Massif made pop-culturally famous by Wilson Peak being on the Coors light can along with the primary setting for the Hateful Eight and its epic snowstorm sequence. Down a silver bullet and enjoy the undulations and views on Wilson Mesa (AID STATION #2 will be set at on top of Wilson Mesa) on your way to an enjoyable descent back down to the San Miguel River. At this point you may want to hit up the Sawpit Mercantile for snacks, but don’t pack too much, the climbing will be sharp, long and hard from this point on as you scale the epic Sawpit 58p road to reach Hastings Mesa. This climb has 17% grades and will put a dent in the hardest. Upon reaching Hastings Mesa you will once again cruise along another one of the many mesas that are the hallmark of the area. The undulations will lead you to the big daddy of the race, the Last Dollar Pass. As you climb this pass you can think back and imagine that 140 years ago this was the only route to Telluride from the North, every person, and trinket had to be pulled by draft animal over this densely forested beauty of a climb. LDP will top out at about 10,500’ and it may be time for something stiffer than a silver bullet, perhaps a dousing of tequila, one of nature’s best energy drinks and pain diffusers (AID STATION #3 will be set on top of LDP or at intersection of 58p and Last Dollar Pass Rd). The banzai descent down LDP will be rocky and steep and long. Your neck will tighten and your legs will go cold as you drop and drop and drop toward Telluride across the historic and famed Aldasoro Ranch area where basque shepherds were among the earliest settlers providing much needed food and clothing material for the area. Climbs will come in short bursts but you are almost there. Next up riders will meet the highway (must observe traffic rules as no closures exist) and will enjoy the last few miles cruising or hammering for time up one of the world’s most iconic box canyon valleys all the way to Telluride, save some fumes for the finish line climb, or just limp in, either way know that an amazing afterparty and libations await.
At about 45 miles and 4.5k’ of climbing the short course is the perfect course for all riders. Beginners will enjoy the fact it’s hopefully over by the time they are totally spent, intermediates will relish the challenge and speed freaks will be able love the full gas flow of this course. The course will be similar to the long course but will skip Silver Pick climb to Wilson Mesa and Fall Creek descent. It will flow first down Telluride Valley to a welcome warm up climb through Aldasoro Ranch where basque shepherds’ generations ago flourished. A fast descent down Deep Creek will end at the San Miguel River and from here rides will start the stunning Ilium Rd climb toward Ames where the countries first commercial use of alternating current electricity was deployed. This climb gets steep toward its junction with Hwy 145 and keeps ascending toward Lizard Head Pass and the scenic aspen groves surrounding Trout Lake. (AID STATION #1 will be located at the top of Lizard Head Pass). Fuel up or fly by the aid station and take a well-earned short breather coasting down Hwy 145 to the single-track Galloping Goose section that is flowy and visually stunning. This section flows down the same valley just ascended but on the opposite side on the old rail road grade (a pretty standard 2%). Enjoy the views if you are proficient enough to ride and gawk at the same time or just lock in on the single track and fly! You’ll definitely be feeling the stoke and will be mentally charged for your last significant challenge of the day, the Galloping Goose climb up to the Telluride Valley. This is a single-track ascent on the old rail road grade but this time ascending (also a pretty standard 2 to 3% the max trains could handle). The single track has some moderate exposure but no cliffs and some quasi-technical sections so feel free to walk any part that seems a bit much - most folks with moderate fitness and skill will be able to ascend the entire single-track climb. Riders emerge onto the valley floor and it’s time to either put the hammer down to the finish or shift into cruise control for an enjoyable and scenic pedal up one of the most iconic box canyons in the world. Riders for time should save a bit for the short punchy finish line climb, the others can simply revel in your accomplishment knowing that a great après setup at the gondola plaza start/finish and Oak restaurant await!