3rd Edition. September 19, 2020
GETTING TO THE TOWN OF ELBERT
The event starts and finishes in the town of Elbert, Colorado. Ulysses Everett McGill might have said about Elbert “this place a geographical oddity. An hour from everywhere!” Simply put it’s an easy drive from most anywhere on the Colorado front range.
For those out east we’re pretty sure you all know the way. For northern Coloradans — find your way to Franktown via I25 (Castle Rock exit) or 470 (Parker Rd Exit) and drive east to Elizabeth then turn south to Elbert. You can also use the Kiowa-Bennet Rd and come down the Elbert Hwy 10-15 minutes south from Kiowa. For the southerners — do the same and find Franktown… Or use Hwy 24 east to the Elbert Hwy just past Falcon hang a left and drive north. For those of you who are already familiar with our little neck of the woods living in and around Black Forest, Monument, Greenland, Franktown, or Larkspur take any of the back groads you prefer that will get you to the starting line on time.
Please park at the track and ball field on the east side of the road.
There are no facility in Elbert to accommodate overnight stays so you will need to make arrangements to lodge elsewhere. The cities of Castle Rock and Parker are the closest choices to search for hotels and eateries for the outta-staters.
In our first event and a 9:am start we drew riders from as far south as Pueblo and as far north as Cheyenne who managed to make it down for the day so perhaps that bit of info opens up the options for places to stay.
NO CAMPING ALLOWED
FOOD & DRINK
Those who choose the registration options “With Meal” will be in for a treat! Lunch provided by Elbert’s finest restaurant The Naked Goat Cafe, just across the dirt street from the start of the race.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
The High Plains Gravel Grinder is mostly a self-supported event, so plan on bringing enough water, food, and any tools you may need to get you in back to Elbert; roughly 40 miles between loops. For the long course we will have water and snacks at 2 checkpoints where riders can get their feedzone fix or/or leave a clearly labeled bag, or as the French say musette, to grab on the way on to the second half of the course at Fondis.
Last year we got some feedback from the sheriff posse and our volunteers sweeping the course, that it would be way easier if everyone rode the same route for a few more miles instead of splitting so early on. Which for riders that didn’t bother to install a GPS file caused some irritating confusion due to our lack of signage, etc.
So we think we have an even better courses for riders this year. Just be sure you are aware there is still a split in the 2 groups at Cty Rd. 82 but we’ll do our best to mark this as obvious as possible. Maybe Salsa will bring their swank chaise for those super cool photo ops? Ha! But don’t count on it this year 🙂
Although both courses are fairly easy to follow for even the most directionally challenged (pro tip: the mountains are west) we will have course markers in key spots. We still do encourage the use of a bar mounted GPS with the ability to load the pre-mapped routes and it’s even better if it can bark our turns. So make sure that’s all loaded up and the device battery is 100% charged. This isn’t a ultra-endurance ride like the Dirty Kanza so you should be good to go on one charge while using directions.
Currently this is not an officially timed event but we will be issuing numbers and giving away prizes to the top finishers who legitimately cross the line 1-2-3 for the two courses for both men and women open and 50+ riders. In the future we definitely want to have a more serious endurance race element but for this first year we want to gauge what the interest for that would be.
Every type of cyclist is welcome to ride the High Plains Grinder on either course at their own pace. We’d hope this event is for folks who simply want to ride and have fun with other like minded cyclists. Just remember, the event ends at 5:pm so do what you can to finish by then.
THE ROAD SURFACE, WIND, & RECOMMENDED GEAR
Elbert County has an abundance of dirt roads that are often times in far better condition than the few paved ones. Our gravel is for the most part hard packed, with a few exceptions on or near “Puncheur” type hills where there might be runoff that can make the shoulders a little sandy and even rutted in some spots. There are no giant sharp rocks to worry about ripping your tires apart or breaking a wheel, but there are a few of the more traveled segments that are prone to some pretty severe washboard, or what we like to call Colorado Cobbles; none of these secteurs are very long and their severity depends mostly on when the last road grading was done and the recent weather — dry dry dry is when they get the most harsh. All told, in late September the roads will most likely be in really good shape, but again it’s highly variable and impossible to say.
Another nemesis for any cyclist is wind, which has also been known to pick up out this way. In some spots there’s little-to-no shelter for a cyclist struggling in no man’s land. Then there’s the mystery here in Colorado where wind can some days shift to a headwind no matter which direction you’re riding.
Anyhow. Don’t let wind discourage you! Weather is out of anyone’s control, but we think the chance of wind is worth mentioning for some. But anyone who seriously rides in this great state normally just embraces the challenge and are thankful they aren’t in Wyoming — where it really blows. So here’s hoping that if it does happen to get a little gusty you have the fortitude to endure these conditions or that it magically remains at your back the entire day. With any luck the wind won’t be a factor; and typically when it does blow it’s out the south which means a nice tailwind down the home stretch.
CX and Gravel drop bar bikes are no question the best choices, but the kind of bike you choose is entirely up to you. We welcome the “steel is real” crowd on a classic celeste green Bianchi straight out of Eroica ; ride your full carbon race bike; pedal a fatty; pull a kid trainer; all the same as someone taking out a generic MTB that’s sat buried in the shed for the last 25 years. We really don’t care what bike you ride!
We do, however, strongly recommend something rolling tires between 30’s to 40’s if they suit your frame; 38’s would be ideal. You can get by with something as small as 28’s but it might get a little bumpy in spots and they’d be far more likely to flat and most likely get pretty sketchy on fast descents; they are absolutely rideable but just not the best choice or one we’d recommend.
Frame geometry is 100% a personal preference.
Aero bars? Sure. They can help the strong ride faster. Just please be safe and don’t take anyone down if your hands should be on your hoods! If you are inexperienced using these contraptions on gravel roads, or you don’t know this course? Then we strongly suggest you don’t bring them to this event — especially if you come to race. Again, this is not a mega-miles-multi-hours death ride where you may actually need the another position to finish.
E-Bikes? Sure. If it gets you outside and riding then great.
In the end we’d hope you’re wise enough to ride something that is comfortable so you to complete the course smiling. If you’re new to this kind of gravel course we hope this info give you enough to make an educated decision. If you have fun and finish then we’ve accomplished one of our goals for our event and we hope you consider that a win.
Be courteous and respectful at all times and encourage other riders on the course! Participants must obey all city, county, and state laws, and the rules of the road. Your safety is up to you. We will have feedzones but bring plenty of your own food and hydration.
Download the course from Ride With GPS if you have a head unit. Cellular service may be spotty for some carriers but we still highly recommend taking along a mobile phone in case of an emergency. Of course, the chances of this “emergency scenario” are unlikely so take along the smartphone so you can snap photos and capture videos and share the memories.
DO NOT LITTER YOUR GEL PACKS AND ENERGY FOOD WRAPPERS ALONG THE ROUTES!!
If you have to shorten the route for reasons like “it’s just not your day” or “your legs quit on you” which can happen, there are bail out points to cut the route short. If you cannot finish the route we will have a broomwagon sweeping up later in the afternoon. If you do cut it short please go to the finish line and let us know, then go get some lunch and try again next year.
Participants are solely responsible for any accidents in which he or she may be involved. No responsibility can be accepted for participants getting lost, stranded, injured, or worse.
EVENT SPONSORS, ORGANIZERS, PROMOTERS, VOLUNTEER STAFF OF THIS EVENT ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SAFETY OR WELL BEING DURING THIS EVENT. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF.