Author Topic: Berthoud Alternate Loop  (Read 2305 times)

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Offline roadmaestro

Berthoud Alternate Loop
« on: June 05, 2018, 01:18:47 pm »
Hello All!

I'm planning a tour this summer using the loop created by the Berthoud Pass Alternate on the Great Parks South route. I'd begin in Idaho Springs, ride north to Estes Park, west (up, over, and down) to Granby, then south using the alternate and finishing in Idaho Springs.

Anyone done this route? I live in New Jersey, not exactly a hotbed of high altitude mountain cycling training. I'm confident I can get the leg fitness for the massive climb up and over the continental divide, but not sure about the lungs.

I'm also curious about weather and camping. Thoughts? Tips? Warnings? Hoping to do the 195 mile loop in five days, camping every night.

Thanks in advance!

Offline CMajernik

Re: Berthoud Alternate Loop
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2018, 05:17:13 pm »
Being from New Jersey you will have to contend with the altitude. You might need to take a few days before your trip to acclimatize. Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park reaches 12,183 feet. Here's what the map says:

  When climbing steep grades at high elevations, be constantly aware of your exertion and energy levels. Overexertion can lead to dehydration and hypothermia; at the least it will cause you to ride erratically.
  Altitude sickness can occur at any elevation above 7,000 feet, but it’s more likely to occur above 10,000 feet. Brought on by continuous exertion in the low-oxygen environment of high altitudes, its onset can be quickened by dehydration and tiredness. Symptoms of mild altitude sickness include headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, sleepiness, and apathy. As conditions worsen, the pulse speeds up and lips and nails turn blue. Further exertion at this stage will cause considerable stress, and symptoms can worsen to the point where the condition becomes life threatening.
  To minimize altitude effects, slowly acclimatize yourself to high elevations. Keep your pace slower than normal and take frequent breaks.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Berthoud Alternate Loop
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2018, 04:41:40 pm »
I live in CO at moderate altitude and I think it'll be tough. In my experience it's not possible to acclimatize by coming in a few days before the tour. That said, some people seem to adjust much better/quicker than others so if you put yourself in that category you might be ok. Here's my experience in this regard:

I was about 4400 miles into a 4800 mile tour and had to leave the tour temporarily at Lake Tahoe for 8 or 9 days to go to sea level. I was in excellent touring shape and in my mid 20's. We had ridden probably 15 big mountain passes in the Rockies, Cascades, etc throughout the previous 2.5 months. When I arrived back at Tahoe I was toast on the climbs. I even had to hitchhike up Tioga Pass (10k ft). My tour partner, who rode in my wake the entire tour and didn't return to sea level, was way ahead of me and had no issues getting over Tioga Pass.

Your proposed tour sounds like a nice loop. I just think you might get beaten up a bit by the altitude. I'd plan accordingly. Good luck and enjoy the scenery.

Offline bigK12603

Re: Berthoud Alternate Loop
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2018, 12:50:02 pm »
at the literal high point of my 1989 "Rocky Mountain High" tour (road) I rode Trail Ridge Rd. in Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park - prior to RMNP I rode up to Hoosier Pass on the ACA Trans Am route - when doing the climb on TR rd. I stopped for an 'air break' I would like hyperventilate doing heavy breathing like a woman giving birth - also you should be prepared for cold - icy conditions  - my RMH tour was in mid July and at the alpine visitor's center in RM NP it was 42 deg - my eyes were seeing snow and ice and my skin felt cold but my brain told me it was mid July - you will have to dress for early spring in NJ for the climb then at the valley say 8,00 feet will have to take off heavy cold weather gear - at Estes Park it was like 75 deg

PS: I used to live in NJ - for a practice long uphill climb I suggest riding SR 23 to NJ High Point SP