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It’s not a professional sporting event, nor is there any prize money, nor is there any reward beyond bragging rights and having done it. Yet the 500-mileColorado Trail Race (you can watch a narrated slide show with last year’s second-place rider Doug Johnson HERE) is, in our humble opinion, even more fascinating than the Tour de France. It’s entirely self-supported (i.e. you can’t have any help beyond what you encounter along the way, e.g. you can stop at the grocery store in Buena Vista to buy food, but you can’t have someone meet you and bring you food); it’s ridden on mountain bikes along single-track trails mostly in the Colorado backcountry; and it covers, “65,000′ of elevation gain winding through the Colorado Rocky Mountains from Denver to Durango… at elevations ranging from 5500′ to a gasping-for-breath 13,200′”. To put the CTR in perspective, The Tour de France covers 2,200 miles over a period of three weeks and the mountain stages have only slightly more elevation gain at lower altitudes.
All that said, even though you can’t watch it on television or listen to it on the radio, you can follow the racers, all of whom have GPS SPOT Tracking devices, on the map above, or HERE at the official Spot Tracker page, which also has standings for each stage. There are great features on the page that allow you to isolate individual riders and see their ride history, see different views of the terrain. You can also see the current weather at the Spot Tracker page.
If the map isn’t enough, there’s a thread of running commentary by the race organizer Stefan G. with reader comments HERE at bikepacking.net and you can also listen to voicemails called in by the riders from the towns along the trail HERE at MTBCast.com.
Be sure to root for the riders from SoCo: Jon Csakany (JC) and Jesse Jakomait (JJ) (sadly, we just learned that Doug Johnson (DJ) had to bail out due to the rain and lack of sleeping bag), both of whom are doing quite well. For an added sense drama and excitement, keep in mind that sometimes the spot trackers don’t work/won’t refresh for many hours or will show that someone has gone way off course when they haven’t. Also keep in mind, that because the trails are not always clearly marked, that sometimes people DO go way off course and/or have to bail out because of mechanical failures or injuries.
Enjoy. It’s addictive and it’ll keep you hitting the refresh button all day.