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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks to those of you who replied with advice about this Easterner's impending trip to Vail. (http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=128845). To recap breifly, I'll be out there for my son's lax tourney in a couple of weeks, and I need to do relatively short rides (15-30 miles). I think I'm going to send my bike out ahead rather than rent.

I'm used to doing rides here in Maryland with 80-100 feet of climb per mile. Last fall I rode the Civil War Century, which has about 8400 feet of climb total with two fairly long "mountain" climbs -- one is a 7.5 mile climb with 1350 feet of climbing.

As many of you suggested, I think I'm going to do Vail Pass. Here are my questions about that ride.

How many miles is the ride from Vail town to the top of Vail Pass?

How many feet of climb in the ride up?

I ride a 53/39 with a 12/27 cassette -- is that doable?

How long will a round-trip take would you say?

Thanks for anything you can give me.
 

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The climb up Vail Pass from Vail starts at 8728 feet and tops out at 10,600. That's 1872 feet of climbing over 9.7 miles (starting at Gore Creek Campground), for an average grade of 3.7%.

Gore Creek Campground is as far as you can drive a car, about 2 miles from the East Vail exit on I-70. If you start in the middle of Vail, it'll add about 6 miles of gentle climbing to the one-way distance.

Your gearing is probably fine, but I don't know you that well so I cannot say for sure. There are some short steep parts that you will be standing for.

Round trip time depends on your fitness level and descending ability. If you average 6 MPH going up and 25 MPH coming down, that would take about two hours, plus stops. If you average 10 MPH going up and 35 MPH coming down, that would take about 75 minutes, plus stops. If you start in the middle of Vail instead of driving to the campground, it will add 12 miles round trip and take an extra 45 miinutes or so.
 

· Yo no fui.
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It is that little?

Like with all climbing, the trick to to pace yourself, so it's of course doable. It's easier to pace yourself by yourself, so you'll be fine. I thnk I remember it being harder becasue I rode it with a friend--we rode the Copper Triangle route solo and we're pretty much trying to drop the otehr guy the length of every climb.

There's a short middle section when you go from Old Vail Pass road (now, essentially a frontage road to the freeway), under the freeway and onto the bike path that is really quite steep. Other than that, it's just a grind.
 

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Pablo said:
It is that little?

Like with all climbing, the trick to to pace yourself, so it's of course doable. It's easier to pace yourself by yourself, so you'll be fine. I thnk I remember it being harder becasue I rode it with a friend--we rode the Copper Triangle route solo and we're pretty much trying to drop the otehr guy the length of every climb.

There's a short middle section when you go from Old Vail Pass road (now, essentially a frontage road to the freeway), under the freeway and onto the bike path that is really quite steep. Other than that, it's just a grind.
You'll see race paint on Old Vail pass...I think left over from the Coors Classic days if I'm not mistaken.
 

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Rode the Copper Triangle last year - according to the profile the climb distance was 14.5 miles.
That little wall after you get on the bike path is a bugger. As noted it's a grind.
There are also a few other areas around there that are good for riding as well.
 

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Vail Pass

I've done Vail Pass the past couple years at the end of the first day of the Courage Classic (charity bike ride for Children's Hospital in Denver.) I am not a fit or experienced rider and after already haven ridden from Leadville, stopping for lunch in West Vale and then riding through the city of Vail it is a grind going up over the pass. Definitely keep an eye out for that "wall" the other speak of after going from the left (North) side of I70, down a short little hill with a short little backtrack and then turning left, now on the other side (south side) of I70. That place is nuts during the Courage Classic because no only are you struggling to get up it there are likely people walking it because they had to bail. And when you get to the top of that short steep part (50 yrds?) it is still fairly steep up to the hills.

If you are in for some extra work ride down the other side to Copper Mountain. Take a break. Maybe eat lunch. Then go back over. The ride on the Copper side is steeper but shorter.

The last two years I road a Specialized Tricross with a compact up front and a Deore XT mountain dr in the back - largest ring was 32. That helped. This year I am trying a Specialized Roubaix Pro with a compact up front and a SRAM 11-28 in the rear. We'll see if the lighter weight, stiffer frame and most importantly better fitness on my part can get it done. I must admit I spent a lot of time in my granny gear last year - and did a lot of stopping! (I'm 55, about 20 lbs overweight and only ride 1-2 times per week.)
 

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i live in breck, and ride the vail pass once a week or so. i ride the same gears you do, and have no prob on the pass. for the most part, the ride is not very steep, it just keeps going. pace yourself and stay out of the red and you will be fine.

advise i will provide is choose tires carefully. the entire rocky mtn area is full of small sharp rocks. especially if they get wet it can be treacherous to tires/tubes. i ride conti 4000's and have no probs

also, i carry arm warmers on just about every ride. the temp on top of all the 10,000 feet passes isnt ever much beyond 60. riding down covered in sweat from the climb at 30-40 mph has a way of getting cold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
success on Vail Pass

If anyone's still following this thread, I wanted to thank you for your time and advice, and let you know that I did the Vail Pass ride last week, 1.5 times.

First, my son and I went about half way up (22 miles roundtrip from Lionshead Circle in Vail). He's 13, and this was his third road ride, and we had to get to a function related to his lacrosse tournament, so we cut it short -- I think he was glad.

Two days later, I went all the way up myself while he played paintball, again starting at Lionshead, a total of 33.2 miles roundtrip. From where the barrier is to keep cars off the road, I clocked it at 8.9 miles to the top and I did it in 1:04:33 -- 8.22 MPH. You were right -- the tester was the stretch after the trail dipped under I-70. Other than that, it was a long slog, but not a ball-buster. A lot of the hills I do around here in Maryland are steeper for short distances -- it's just that the downhills come more regularly!

If any of you guys are in the DC -- Baltimore -- Philly area, looking for a good hilly ride, let me know and I'll set you up with something in Northern Baltimore County-South PA.

 

· Yo no fui.
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Good work! I need to get up there.
 

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vail pass is a grind, but not the steepest around. i think hoosier and boreas (take baldy road half way up) are steeper, but they are not as long, and hoosier isnt a road i like sharing with cars either.

congrats on making the ride
 

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tour said:
vail pass is a grind, but not the steepest around. i think hoosier and boreas (take baldy road half way up) are steeper, but they are not as long, and hoosier isnt a road i like sharing with cars either.

congrats on making the ride
The last 4 miles of Hoosier are surprisingly steep, but I made it with a 39x26. Was riding about 7.5 MPH.
 

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hoosier is my road, i live in blue river off highway 9. if i only have an hour to ride that is where i go. the first few times were a shock, but it isnt so bad now. i have an R3 with 53/39 in front and 12/27 in back. i use every tooth of the 27, but it isnt too bad. starting from the first switchback, it only takes 40 min if i really pedal to get bottom to top, and back down again.
 
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