Photo Gallery: Ride the Rockies Tackles Wolf Creek Pass

Photo Gallery Race Coverage

Riders at the 28th annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour faced their toughest test yet, the long haul from Pagosa Springs to Alamosa on Wednesday. Total distance: 92 miles. Total elevation gain: 4,678 – almost all of it during the slog up Wolf Creek Pass, peak elevation 10,856 feet.

This came a day after the ever-rolling run from Durango to Pagosa Springs (86 miles, 3,635 feet of climbing), and overall it was the fourth stage of this seven-day, 515-mile ride that started in Telluride on Sunday and concludes Saturday in Colorado Springs.

What happens between now and then for the event’s 2200 riders has suddenly been thrown up in the air due to a pair of wild fires burning further east around Colorado Springs and near the Royal Gorge. On Thursday, the tour heads from Alamosa to Salida. But the next day’s ride – Salida to Canyon City – will definitely be altered.

Already event officials have ruled out the possibility of crossing the Royal Gorge as originally planned. The highest suspension bridge in the U.S. has been temporarily closed and evacuated due to the nearby fire. One alternate possibility would be to connect Salida and Canyon City via Highway 50, but that road is currently closed, too.

RoadBikeReview will update with further details as they become available. In the meantime here’s a look at Wednesday’s ride up Wolf Creek Pass.

The Ride the Rockies caravan includes three 18-wheelers, which haul luggage for all 2,200 riders, plus the bikes of riders not able to ride on any given day.

Boulder-based bike shop Sports Garage is one of several Colorado shops providing mechanical support during this weeklong event.

Participant ages range from 6 to 84. This guy is definitely one of the youngsters.

The real work of the day started about 15 miles into the stage. From there it was a steady eight-mile grind to the summit – which is also part of the Continental Divide.

It’s a long and winding road to the top of Wolf Creek Pass. It took most riders about two hours to reach the top of the climb.

We’re going to venture a guess and say it took this guy a little longer than most to get to the top. But that’s what happens when you load your bike down with camping gear and several extra liters of water…

The heart of the Wolf Creek climb is 8 miles long, with 2,655 feet of vertical gain and an average gradient of 6.4 percent.

Big climbs require lots of fuel. This guy opted for a plate of pancakes at the Treasure Falls aid station about 7.5 miles from the summit.

Even while in the pain cave, most of the riders in this charity-benefit event manage to keep it positive.

Roads like this have a tendency to bring out the best in suffer faces somtimes.

And making it to the top elicits celebratory photos, hugs, high-fives and kisses.

The scene at the top of Wolf Creek Pass included a host of vendors, a DJ, hydration stations, and a lot of happy cyclists.

Instead of bars and gels, the Ride the Rockies peloton indulges on real food – and real condiments.

Calling Feedback Sports. Your services are in need.

Not everyone opts for traditional cycling garb.

From the top of the pass it was all downhill to Alamosa. Let’s just hope there wasn’t a huge headwind.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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