Location: Trinidad, Colorado USA
Las Animas County: 37° 10′ 15″ N, 104° 30′ 23″ W
Earlier this week we made a trip to Trinidad, Colorado. Sitting at 6,000ft above sea level, Trinidad is tucked up against the Spanish Peaks to the northwest, Fishers Peak to the southeast and the New Mexico border 13 miles to the south. Diverse views in every direction right from town make this a very interesting place.
The reason for our visit was to scope out the town, the courses and meet some locals that will be playing host to The Rad Dirt Fest Presented by Wahoo, October 2nd & 3rd. Moots is the official bike sponsor of the event, and we are excited to participate in this new event and we think you might love what you find.
Red bricks and gravels roads
In town we found many brick streets that run throughout. Embossed with the name Trinidad they invoke a sense of craft and history. The race itself will start at Main & Commerce Street which is the center of town with racers rumbling over the brick Main Street that heads north to the gravel course proper. The start/finish is surrounded by historic buildings with art murals, and just a short walk away from the Holy Trinity Church that dates to 1885 and is made of local sandstone. The church parking area will serve as packet pickup on Friday of that week.
Once out of town the course turns east and has a pavement run into the gravel, we’ve all come for. The two long courses are divided by I-25, with the east side serving as the early miles and finale of the day. Beyond the east side racers will cross over I-25 and head west into a long gradual climb that will top out at 8,937 feet above sea level for the “Stubborn Dolores” 162-mile course and 7,778 feet above sea level for the “Antelope” 94.4-mile course. Pinyon, Ponderosa and Aspens will greet riders as they climb the low grades on approach to the steep kick up and over the high point of the day. As you climb the shallow grades to this point you get amazing views of the Spanish Peaks that rise to 13,500 feet and almost feel that you can reach out and touch them. Open valleys along the way are dotted with ranches, hay fields and rock outcroppings. If you are out for a scenic ride, you’ve come to the right place.
A short pavement section for a reprieve as you climb towards the Spanish Peaks.
As the two long courses descend away from the high points of the day, small punchy climbs make sure you’ve fueled correctly along the way. As our experience went, there is a lot of pedaling to be done, even on the long run down back towards I-25. As you emerge out of the foothills the miles are dotted with ghost towns from the long history of mining in the area. Flowy gravel roads then pass under the railroad track and towards the overpass of I-25 to link you back to the finishing loop.
Several ghost towns dot the course throughout the day.
Once back on the east side of I-25 the long courses retrace some of the early miles and bring you to Frijole Hill with a sharp right turn off gravel onto pavement into the bottom of this 1.5km paved hill. If a final lead group comes to this point together attacks are to be expected to possibly spring the winning move. If not broken up here the final group could be in for a sprint at the line as much of the last miles are paved rollers and leave little places to get away from your “friends.” The finish is a final mile of Main Street back on those red bricks.
The two of us had very different set ups for our recon ride. Jon used a Routt RSL and 38mm Panaracer SS tires, double chainring set up (46/33 upfront, 10-33 cassette), using road pedals and shoes. Nate used our Routt 45, 50mm Panaracer Gravel King SK tires, a wide range single ring and mountain bike pedals and shoes. At the end it was clear that for tire choice the 50mm tire was overkill and the 38mm tire would be much faster and enough traction and cushion to cover the course. Single ring vs double really didn’t matter much, nor did shoe/pedal choice. Go with what you know and works best for you, this is just an example of two ends of the spectrum on tire size. There really wasn’t anything on the course that a 38mm tire could not handle and the 50mm tires just made things more taxing.
There’s always food, right? While in Trinidad we ate at a few places of note. First was Rino’s Italian Restaurant. Good food and famous for its singing wait staff. Something you must experience to believe it. Housed in a converted church that dates to the late 1800’s, and since many of the early immigrants to the area were Italian, this made our first night there a memorable one. For vegetarians and something quick and delicious we visited Sita’s Kitchen, also good food and great service. Each morning for our coffee fix we hit up Perkatory Coffee that is just steps away from the start/finish line on Main Street. Great coffee, smoothies, and sweet treats. Our last night there we sat down at Las Animas Grill and enjoyed a diverse menu and drink selection. Good hearty food and super wait staff. Once we worked through post-dinner photo shoot, we returned to Commerce Street and had a night cap at The Lounge. The front of the building does not really convey how awesome this place is. Pool tables, long bar and massive back area make this a hit. The owner was behind the bar and greeted us as if we were long time friends.
Ben Pickel (R) of LifeTime Fitness and Nate Bradley of Moots (L) roll along the short course on the east side of I-25. Note the Spanish Peaks in the background….the long courses take you right by the base of these 13,500ft giants.
See you there!
Early October in Colorado is typically peak colors, and this course will run through oranges, reds and those famous yellow aspens throughout the course. Temps should make this the perfect fall classic gravel race to finish off the season. Check out the event and we hope to see you there!