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Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC)

colorado bicycle tour
Beautiful Countryside Experienced During a Colorado Bicycle Tour

This is an annual tour that is challenging, but fun, well organized and well supported. If you are a fit cyclist who is looking to raise the bar, but maybe concerned about the support level provided by the tour operator, have no fear about the latter- this may be the tour for you. The bicycle tour of Colorado has been run for almost 20 years- always through the mountains of Colorado around the third week of June, but the route varies each year. This provides a caliber of cycling that you can count on, but with enough variation that you won't be bored with the same old route each year. One thing that makes this tour very appealing is that bicycle tour of Colorado offers the cyclist an array of options such as meals, bicycle camping/indoor bicycle camping or hotels, and sag service, to name a few. bicycle tour of Colorado is a loop tour, so you end up where you started a week before. bicycle tour of Colorado carries all your gear each day as you ride, as well as provides all the logistics, maps, route markings, and bicycle camping arrangements, as well as an array of options such as hotels and meals which will be discussed below.

colorado bicycle tour
Many Climbs on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

Colorado is not a flat state. The whole purpose of the bicycle tour of Colorado is to ride through the heart of the impressive high country of the Rocky Mountains, escaping the heat of summer. Therefore, you will be climbing every day. If you don't like hills, this is not the tour for you. But if you enjoy challenging cycling through beautiful scenery, read on.

colorado bicycle tour
Many Summits to Cross on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

Bicycle tour of Colorado runs for a week, with 6 days of cycling and 1 rest day somewhere in the middle of the week. BTC is challenging enough that for most, the rest day will be welcomed. But for the ambitious, even the rest day has ride options. Usually the rest day will be in or near a resort area of interest so that one can either do some hiking nearby, or just stroll around town taking in the sights of the old west or maybe a ski resort, enjoying a latte.

colorado bicycle tour
Many Climbs on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

Typically the bicycle tour of Colorado will involve about 450 miles of riding over the 6 riding days, averaging about 75 miles per day. But there may be at least one long day - maybe even a 100 miler, somewhere during the week thus, another day or two, shorter than the 75 mile average. Bicycle tour of Colorado will average about 25,000 to 30,000 feet of climbing over the week- typically scaling at least one, maybe two passes per day. So you're looking at an average of 4000-5000 feet of climbing per day. So you need to be comfortable with not only substantial climbing, but also some steep descents. You will get your money's worth out of this tour!

colorado bicycle tour
Many Climbs on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

Size of bicycle tour of Colorado

colorado bicycle tour
1000 - 2000 Folks Can Sometimes Show Up for a Colorado Bicycle Tour.

Over the years bicycle tour of Colorado has included from 1200 to as many as 2000 participants. So this tells you that bicycle tour of Colorado is quite a large group of riders. If you like small and intimate, getting to know everyone over the week- not bicycle tour of Colorado. But so many riders makes for quite a spectacle- like a roving circus, riding through small towns where the riders may outnumber the citizens. But if you're put off by large crowds, keep in mind that everyone on bicycle tour of Colorado is doing the same thing you're doing- enjoying cycling, so right away you have something in common with everyone. It's not like trying to meet people on the street; you may have to make the effort some of the time, but there are plenty of people right alongside you with whom you should have plenty in common.

colorado bicycle tour
Colorado Bicycle Tour is for Many Skill Levels

The cycling ability level you can expect to see will vary from those who are hopeful they can even finish the tour, to those you may suspect of being professional racers.

colorado bicycle tour camping
Colorado Bicycle Tour Daily Briefing

Bicycle Camping/Hotels

colorado bicycle tour camping
Colorado Bicycle Tour Camping

Basically bicycle tour of Colorado is a bicycle camping tour. That ‘s what makes it such an affordable tour. Typically this massive group of cyclists usually camps on school grounds such as a football field, or on occasion, the base facility of a ski resort. But there are some alternatives to bicycle camping, if you're not so much into the great outdoors. For one, you can pay an extra $50 and do what's called "indoor bicycle camping" that is, sleeping inside a school building, usually in the gymnasium. Exercising this option means you don't have to set up and take down a tent every day, nor do you particularly care about the weather overnight. If everyone is quiet and goes to bed at a reasonable hour, you'll get a good night's sleep. You bring your own mat and sleeping bag. Another option is the contract service provider that will for a fee, provide tent and mat, as well as set up, transport, and take down this bicycle camping gear for you each day. Sometimes the contractor will provide a little entertainment and refreshments for you. This can be a great option for those who don't have the energy and/or interest in dealing with bicycle camping gear after a hard day's ride. You just ride into camp and there's your tent, already set up for you. Time to relax and check in with the people around you to see how the day went.

colorado bicycle tour camping
Colorado Bicycle Tour Group Camp Site

Note that hot showers are provided at the end of the ride each day, as well as outdoor toilets and sinks/toilets inside the schools. Also consider the fact that bicycle camping keeps you connected with the main part of the group. If you buy the meal package for the tour, your meals are never far away- usually prepared and served in the school cafeteria by the tour caterer.

colorado bicycle tour camping
High School Sports Field Used for Colorado Bicycle Tour Camping Site

If bicycle camping is just not your thing, the tour organizer offers a link to a hotel package that is fully detailed on their website. You can ride your bike straight to the hotel at the end of the day's ride or, shuttle service from the camp to the hotel may be offered. If you need to soak in your own private bath and sleep in a bed each night, you make your own arrangements to do that from the information gleaned from the bicycle tour of Colorado website. This can make all the difference for you. But keep in mind that this option does separate you from the main body of the tour each night, and that it is your responsibility to wake up on time and either get to the campsite to join the group or get on the course for the day. But if it rains during the night, you can definitely say "who cares!"

Consider this- how about enjoying the low cost of bicycle camping then treating yourself to a hotel room for a night mid-week?

colorado bicycle tour camping
Hotels and Social Clubs are Available on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

Colorado Bicycle Camping Meals/Food Stops

Meals are available in any combination that suits you, from the full package of 3 meals a day to just breakfasts, or just dinners, etc. The pricing is all on the bicycle tour of Colorado website. The food is catered and is very good considering the challenges of catering to 1500 people along the road. Both quantity and quality is good. After everyone is served, there may even be seconds available. Consider the convenience of meals being served on the premises, in that you have to get up each morning, tear down camp, get your bike clothes on, and eat, before riding. A short walk brings you to your breakfast in the cafeteria. Those staying in hotels can choose to eat at their hotel, buy a meal ticket to eat back at camp, or eat out at cafes in town or along the route.

colorado bicycle tour camping
Dinner at a Colorado Bicycle Tour Camping Site

For the sake of convenience, the breakfast/dinner option keeps you fed every day while in camp. The lunch offered by the tour operator is usually along the course. That lunch is offered only to those riders who have prepaid for the lunch option- your wristband must indicate that you have paid; you can't just decide that you want the tour lunch at that time. But you can always get lunch on your on the route or in the town where camped, as some people don't want to eat a full lunch and then have to get back on the bike again. So many custom options is great!

colorado bicycle tour camping
Colorado Bicycle Tour Camp Site

Food/rest stops are about every 20-25 miles and well stocked with fruit, energy foods and liquids, and just plain water. You can always rely on food and liquids along the route each day- even for those wanting an early start or that don't ride so fast and fall behind. This high level of support should give you the confidence and nutrition you need to keep pedaling!

Sag Services

colorado bicycle tour camping
BTC Sag Service is Available

Some cyclists may feel fairly confident about being able ride the whole tour yet, may have some concern about being able to finish the course in a timely manner. Or maybe even about being able to finish at all on the harder days. Look at the details of the route for each day (including the profile). You should already be able to ride this today, or if not, at least be planning on doing some serious training before the tour begins. If you are there or will be after training, you're probably game for bicycle tour of Colorado. If you're a little unsure, consider the fact that bicycle tour of Colorado offers daily sag service- that is, vans with bike racks that will stop and pick up signaling riders that are too tired to complete the day's ride. Or even just part of the route- say just up the hill about 5 miles to the pass, so you can then coast down the back side. Knowing the sag vans are out on the course may bolster your confidence to keep riding when you are tired or, just simply use them when you need to. Realize that if you jump in the sag, you don't have to ride it all the way to camp. If you're feeling better after resting in the van, stop and get back on your bike and see if you can make it to camp.

Entertainment

colorado bicycle tour camping
Spontaneous Entertainment at a Colorado Bicycle Tour Camp Site

Each evening after your ride bicycle tour of Colorado provides some type of entertainment that is either at or near the camp, or free shuttle service will be provided if it's not within walking distance. Usually you can count on some live music and a beer garden to quench your thirst. If you're too tired to be entertained but feeling sociable, there are many friendly people just relaxing on a summer evening at camp. Most participants retire for the evening when the sun goes down in order to be prepared for another fabulous day of riding.

Weather

colorado bicycle tour camping
Weather is Unpredictable on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

The weather in Colorado in mid to late June can be anywhere from occasionally rainy and chilly to hot and dry. The Front Range, or the eastern-most Rockies around Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs, tends to be wetter and cooler in general, while the western part of the state is warm and dry. Most of the riding days are sunny to partly cloudy, warming as the day goes on which can lead to thundershowers late in the afternoon. Cycling through the Rockies on a sunny day is some of the best cycling you can expect to experience. Bring some layering because mornings can be chilly. If you're hotelling it, indoor bicycle camping, or have hired the contractor to provide tent service, all you have to worry about if you see the clouds gathering is to get to the destination before it rains on you. The showers usually don't last long so if you're still out on the route, just pull over until the shower is over, then continue on. Don't forget your rain gear! If you're bicycle camping, try to get your tent set up as soon as you get to camp. Not only will you get the best real estate the camp has to offer but just in case it rains, you're set. Latte time!

Training for Bicycle Tour of Colorado

colorado bicycle tour camping
Training for a Colorado Bicycle Tour

You're not likely to be riding anything on the bicycle tour of Colorado that's less than 5500' above sea level. Some of the big mountain passes can be over 12,000'. It's good to get excited about experiencing the scenery at that elevation, but don't take it too lightly- especially if you live at or near sea level. Lowlanders will need to train vigorously to be prepared for bicycle tour of Colorado- not only for all the climbing, but to avoid altitude sickness. Climb as many hills as you can. If you need to, put your bike in your car and drive to higher elevation and ride there. Ask Lance Armstrong and he will tell you that the best training is that which best approximates the area in which you intend to ride. If your area is flat as a pancake, find an overpass to ride up and over, over and over a gain. Get some vertical! There's no point in coming out to Colorado only to bonk.

Colorado Bicycle Camping Cost

colorado bicycle tour camping
Incredible Scenery on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

The cost of bicycle tour of Colorado varies depending on what options you choose. The basic cost starts at about $400- actually even less than that if you decide early, as there are discounts for early registration. Add on $200 for the breakfast/dinner ticket and you've got yourself a week long tour with most meals for about $600! It's hard to believe that you can ride a supported tour for less than $100 a day. Not many of those anymore! There are a few minor incidentals like parking (if you drive to bicycle tour of Colorado), bike box storage (for those flying). But that's pretty much it. Staying at hotels will increase your cost quite a bit, but you make those arrangements on your own.

Summary

colorado bicycle tour camping
Meet Many Friends on a Colorado Bicycle Tour

A well-supported, well-organized bike tour with world-class alpine scenery, at a very fair price. Support also includes a medical and mechanical team. bicycle tour of Colorado is fairly strenuous, so it's for those who stay in shape or are willing to train to get there. Be sure to be honest- if you don't like bicycle camping, it may be worth the extra $ to sleep in a hotel room. bicycle tour of Colorado is a must do to round out your cycling experience!

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