Thursday, April 18, 2013

Will You Join Me on the F5?

One of the most intriguing rides for me on the RMCC calendar is the “Boulder Fearsome Five”, part of the RMCC Challenge Series. Those who know me will say, “No kidding—it's a crazy climbing ride. Of course you'd be interested, Mark!”

We claim that this is one of the hardest, if the not the hardest, century rides in the country—it climbs 15,000 feet in 100 miles by taking in the five hardest climbs in Boulder Country—Flagstaff, Magnolia, Sugarloaf, Fourmile, and Super Jamestown. Just to add further interest, a couple sections of dirt are even thrown in for good measure.

Okay, so this article is supposed to talk you into doing the ride, not out of it! Here is why I want to do it and why I hope you'll join me as well:

First, it's an epic challenge that doesn't involve huge amounts of mileage. Most of the big special-event type rides that the RMCC runs involve distances of at least 200 miles. Quite simply, that's not the direction I'm headed as a cyclist at this point. Doing a hard century—I'm in! For me, being able to complete an event like this one would be truly satisfying.

Second, as I live on the south side of town, these are simply not climbs I do on a routine basis. We do a lot of club rides that go up Lefthand Canyon, but the climbs on this course simply don't otherwise show up much on our calendar. I'm always on the lookout for a ride that is different, and this fits the bill.

Third—it's run at a sensible time of the year. Doing lower-elevation climbs like this day all day in July or August could get miserably hot. Riding in the cooler temperatures of early May sounds much more appetizing.

Fourth, the ride has “bailout” options. Honestly, I'm skeptical as to whether I can complete the whole course. Like many, the spring weather this year has meant that I've got fewer miles in than I had hoped. It's been a couple of years since I've done anything remotely in this ballpark. That's not an obstacle with this ride however. If I get to where I can't go anymore, simply point the bike downhill, coast back to the finish and I'm done. Nice!

Moreover, the event is structured such that everyone gets “credit” for the number of climbs they complete within the eleven-hour time limit. If my legs are finished after 3 climbs—I'll get credit for that; if I complete all 5, I'll be credited for that too. The point being that you won't be listed as “DNF” because you couldn't complete it all. The only losers are those who choose to “DNS” (did not start).

In short, for such a hard ride it's very non-intimidating!

I'm sure most of the “super-riders” in the club will be out for the ride as they were last year. I'm just a “regular rider” however. Hopefully more of you “regular” folks will join me for the fun!

If you do come out, please keep a few things in mind:

These climbs are steep. If you have a choice, use the bike with the low gears. Compact or triple cranksets and pancake-sized rear cogs were invented for rides like this.

We do have to ride Boulder Canyon for a few miles, which carries a lot of traffic. There is also a short tunnel. As such, use of a rear taillight is required.

The Fourmile Canyon/Sunshine loop does have several miles of dirt. This section is very rideable on standard road tires, but do be aware that it is there.

The club offers limited support on this ride. We'll go by our cars a couple of times which provides a good opportunity to refuel. There are plenty of stores in and around Boulder. And there'll be a support vehicle that will most likely be located at the base of the Fourmile Canyon climb. In short, you'll be able to get the services you need on the ride, but this is not a fully SAG supported event (which also means there's no ridiculous entry fee either—if you're a member, you can ride).

Hopefully I've sparked your interest and I'll see you at the start line. Looking forward to riding with you!


  1. Hi Mark,

    When and where is the start?



      Eben Fine Park, near Highway 119 and Pearl Street in Boulder.

  2. Thanks for this post, Mark! I'm in! I've never ridden Magnolia or Flagstaff, so this is a good opportunity.

    1. I'm out! :) Did the Lyons ride today instead! Have fun!