101 Bobtail or Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 Phone: 970.728.5891
Email: info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com
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Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic

Lizard Head Cycling Guides combines two great Colorado cycling tours into one! Picking the “best of the best” from our Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes tour and our Colorado Cols tour, this audacious two week adventure weaves it’s way through the majestic peaks of Colorado’s most mighty 14’ers. See the state of Colorado at “Bike Speed”.

Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic: Highlights

Riding pass Molas Lake

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Red Mountain Pass Switchbacks

Red Mountain Pass Switchbacks

East and West Spanish Peaks

East and West Spanish Peaks

Colorado Rocky Mountain High!

Colorado Rocky Mountain High!

Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic: Tour Dates

Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891.

Summer Tour Dates:

Note: Ride all 2 weeks, the 1st week only or the 2nd week only.

  • June 18 to July 1, 2017: Full 2 Weeks – Colorado Springs to Colorado Springs
    TOUR A GO! 3 provisional spots remain. Contact us for details.
    • June 18 to 24, 2017: Week 1 Only – Colorado Springs to Durango
      TOUR A GO! 3 provisional spots remain. Contact us for details.
    • June 26 to July 1, 2017: Week 2 Only – Durango to Colorado Springs
      TOUR A GO! 3 provisional spots remain. Contact us for details.
  • July 16 to July 29, 2017: Full 2 Weeks – Colorado Springs to Colorado Springs (Book Now!)
    • July 16 to 22, 2017: Week 1 Only – Colorado Springs to Durango (Book Now!)
    • July 23 to 29, 2017: Week 2 Only – Durango to Colorado Springs (Book Now!)
  • August 6 to August 19, 2017: Full 2 Weeks – Colorado Springs to Colorado Springs (Book Now!)
    • August 6 to 12, 2017: Week 1 Only – Colorado Springs to Durango (Book Now!)
    • August 13 to 19, 2017: Week 2 Only – Durango to Colorado Springs (Book Now!)
  • August 27 to September 9, 2017: Full 2 Weeks – Colorado Springs to Colorado Springs (Book Now!)
    • August 27 to September 2, 2017: Week 1 Only – Colorado Springs to Durango (Book Now!)
      TOUR A GO! 5 spots remain
    • September 3 to 9, 2017: Week 2 Only – Durango to Colorado Springs (Book Now!)

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Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Arrival/Departure Airport: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Meeting/Ending Location for Two-Week Tour: Colorado Springs (COS). Fly into Colorado Springs on a Saturday (the day prior tour start) and out of Colorado Springs on Saturday (tour ends on a Friday).

Don’t Have the Time to Ride Both Weeks? Riders can choose to ride either the 1st or 2nd week.

Logistics for Week #1: Days 1 thru 7 of itinerary below. Fly into Colorado Springs (COS) on Saturday (the day prior to tour start) and out of Durango (DRO) on Sunday.

Logistics for Week #2: Days 8 thru 14 of itinerary below. Fly into Durango (DRO) on Sunday (the day prior to tour start) and out of Colorado Springs (COS) on Sunday (tour ends on a Saturday).

Tour Length: 13-Days Cycling with 1 Layover Day (Ride 2-weeks or just 1-week)

Total Miles: 700 to 1,130 miles, additional mileage options available. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Daily Mileage Range: 40 to 154 miles

Ability Level: 3/4 (Advanced to Challenging)

Two-Week Epic Tour Cost: $4,650 per person. Deposit is $1,500 per person. Includes: 13-nights (increased from 12-nights) of lodging (Sunday to the second Friday), meals (except for 2 dinners & 2 breakfasts), energy food, liquid refreshments, a great jersey, socks, bottles, forest service fees, shuttles and mechanical support. Single Room Supplement is $950 for a private room each night of the the tour.

Week #1 Spanish Peaks Tour Cost: $2,790 per person. Includes: 7-nights of lodging (Sunday through Saturday), all meals except for 1 dinner & 1 breakfast, guide service, energy food, liquid refreshments, a great jersey, socks, bottles, forest service fees, shuttles and mechanical support. Single Room Supplement is $595 for Week #1. If cyclists are willing to share a room with a same sex cyclist and none is available, single room cost is reduced to $300.

Week #2 Colorado Cols Tour Cost: $2,850 per person. Includes: 6-nights of lodging (Sunday through Friday), all meals except for 1 dinner & 1 breakfast, guide service, energy food, liquid refreshments, a great jersey, socks, bottles, forest service fees, shuttles and mechanical support. Single Room Supplement is $695 for Week #2. If cyclists are willing to share a room with a same sex cyclist and none is available, single room cost is reduced to $300.

Alcoholic beverages, bike rental and massage are additional.

Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

Road Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.

Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.

Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.

Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free bike high performance rental per couple ($250 value).

Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.

Lodging: 12 nights lodging (subject to change)

Meals On Tour

Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! :) Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.

Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!

Overall Route Map

NOTE: During the tour Lizard Head Cycling offers a few short shuttles to avoid undesirable car clustered sections. Riders are welcomed to ride these sections if they want to E.F.I. the tour.

Click image for larger map.

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a “bump” via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is “off the front” and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They’ll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.

Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we’re well known for in our business. Daily shuttle options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy our tours through mileage customization.

Slow or Fast?
PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour. Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they’re surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people. Speed does not matter as long as you are moving on the bike.

Like we say to even the most reluctant cyclists: “You will be ready for a Lizard Head Cycling tour when you are finished with a Lizard Head Cycling tour”.

If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!

Please also see this blog post for more information.

Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic: Itinerary*

*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.

Day 0: Arrival in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado

Guests either drive to or fly into Colorado Springs, Colorado on the Saturday prior to the tour departure. Colorado Springs is a bike crazy town and home to USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing in the United States.

For early arriving guests, a recommended great first day ride to help acclimate you to the higher elevations would be from downtown Colorado Springs to the majestic rock formations at the Garden of the Gods and then back. Or if you are feeling up to the challenge, take on the mighty Pike’s Peak offering a near relentless climb up to 14,000 feet and rewarding you with 100+ mile views.

Day 1: Florissant to Cañon City, CO
50-miles with approximately 2,850 feet of climbing

We begin our tour from deep within the front range with inspiring views on well paved roads along rolling terrain as we plummet nearly 5,500′ during the course of a 50-mile trek from Florissant to Canon City. Beware! There are some punchy climbs on the way down to Canon City. A treat near the end of the day will be a short section of narrow road called Skyline Drive that follows a ridge top traverse. The day ends in Cañon City’s municipal park.

En route to Cañon City

En route to Cañon City

Skyline Drive above Cañon City

Beauty alert!

Beauty alert!

Elevation Profile: +2850 ft / -5690 ft

Day 2: Florence to Colorado City, CO
60-miles with approximately 6,215 feet of climbing

Starting from Florence today’s route begins with gentle climbing into the Wet Mountains that soon turns to steep climbing between the 11 to 22 mile mark. After the turn south onto the Greenhorn Highway, we enjoy a tremendous piece of road. The views of the Wet Mountains and Sangre De Christos during the day are spectacular and to the east, it appears one can see all the way to Kansas! After a stop at the uniquely strange Bishop Castle, there are a series of rollers and then a screaming 13-mile descent down through the Huckleberry Hills to Colorado City to end the ride at Obie’s Fillin’ Station for BBQ. We shuttle to Trinidad, Colorado for our accommodations at the Tarabino Inn.

San Isabel Lake

Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway

Wildlife along the Greenhorn Highway

The view from Bishop Castle

The view from Bishop Castle

Elevation Profile: +6215 ft / -5605 ft

Day 3: Trinidad to La Veta, CO
66-miles with approximately 5,665 feet of climbing

Today ride The Highway of the Legends Scenic Byway around the Spanish Peaks. The route climbs up and over 9,995-foot Cuchara Pass and then quickly descends to the town of La Veta (7,013-feet) for tonight’s lodging. This is a big climb to Cuchara Pass with a real steep kick at the end. As a result there are big king of the mountain points to be gained on Cuchara Pass! From atop the pass it is a fast descent to end the day.

Highway of the Legends Scenic Byway

Sangre de Christos and storm in the background

Sangre de Christos and storm in the background

Elevation Profile: +5665 ft / -4710 ft

Day 4: La Veta to Great Sand Dunes National Park
61-miles with approximately 3,270 feet of climbing

From La Veta, Colorado we’ll ride up to North La Veta Pass (9,413-feet) and after the descent through the towns of Fort Garland and Blanca while traversing around southern base of 14,000-foot Blanca Peak. The riding from the 4-mile mark to the 13-mile mark climbs North La Veta Pass. At the top the pavement improves and the shoulder widens for the rest of the ride to the Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Hiking in the Great Sand Dunes

Hiking in the Great Sand Dunes

Elevation Profile: +3270 ft / -2195 ft

Day 5: Moffat to Gunnison, CO
Standard, 87 miles with approximately 3,500 feet of climbing
E.F.I., 129 miles with approximately 3,430 feet of climbing

Today we’ll ride across the 7,000-foot San Luis valley past endless fields of potatoes. From the town of Saguache the route follows Hwy 114 for 62-miles toward Gunnison. Highway 114 is a beautiful road that crosses the continental divide at North Pass and then descends nearly 40-miles into Gunnison. An optional E.F.I. ride from Great Sand Dunes National Park to Gunnison at 129 miles in length is also offered.

Cattle on the range

Along CO 114 on the way to Gunnison

Standard, 87 miles – Elevation Profile: +3500 ft / -3370 ft

E.F.I., 129 miles – Elevation Profile: +3430 ft / -3820 ft

Day 6: Gunnison, CO to Creede, CO – The Cannibal Classic!
106 Man-Eating-Miles with approximately 8,400 feet of climbing (Optional: 75-Mile ride)

The “Cannibal Classic” is one of the most challenging stages of the tour having earned its name from the infamous Alfred Packer, a miner who became snowbound on an ill-fated journey into the San Juan Mountains in the late 1800’s. Come spring, Packer was the only remaining miner alive from his party of six, looking pretty healthy. He had literally eaten his compatriots!

At approximately mile 58, you will take on one of the steepest paved mountain passes in Colorado – Slumgullion Pass at an elevation of 11,530 feet! This monster is a 6 mile climb that ascends nearly 3,000 feet; its average 7% to 9% grades feels particularly brutal coming at mile 90 of the Cannibal Classic.

At the top, you’ll descend 4 miles and then climb another 4 miles at a mere 4% grade to Spring Creek Pass and the Continental Divide. From Spring Creek, it’s just about a 30-mile descent to the wild west town of Creede.

Keep looking UP to relieve the suffering

Keep looking UP to relieve the suffering

Creede, Colorado

Creede, Colorado

Elevation Profile: 105.6 mi +8428 ft / -7288 ft

Elevation Profile: +8400 ft / -7300 ft

Day 7: Creede, CO to Pagosa Springs, CO or Durango, CO
Standard, 64-miles with approximately 3,400 feet of climbing
E.F.I., 131-miles with approximately 7,385 feet of climbing

Riding south from Creede, you’ll pedal across the remote headwaters of Rio Grande watershed. The largest wilderness area in Colorado, the Weimuniche Wilderness, borders this lush region. After climbing the impressive Wolf Creek Pass (10,863’) near the end of the day, you’ll have climbed over the Continental Divide for the second time in two days.

Thrill to a 4,000-foot descent from Wolf Creek to Pagosa Springs along the headwaters of the San Juan River. We’ll be in close proximity to New Mexico and get a whiff of the state’s famous and fragrant green chile. After arriving in Pagosa Springs, you will enjoy a much-needed and deserved soak in the hot springs followed by a fine dinner of New Mexican home cooking and finally, an evening shuttle from Pagosa Springs to Durango, Colorado to check into our accommodations for the next two evenings.

A 131 mile E.F.I. option from Creede to Durango is also offered on this day.

Atop Wolf Creek Pass

Atop Wolf Creek Pass

The Mothership is always near

The Mothership is always near

Elevation Profile: 64.3 mi +3399 ft / -5169 ft

Standard, 64 miles – Elevation Profile: +3400 ft / -5200 ft

E.F.I., 1301 miles – Elevation Profile: +7385 ft / -9650 ft

Day 8: Layover Day in Durango, CO
Optional Riding

With a layover in Durango, you will have an entire day to relax and recuperate before the second leg of our two week journey. Explore the historic downtown district, go shopping along the main street, check out the local art galleries, take a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, go for a short spin around town on the myriad bike paths to keep the legs loose, take a brisk hike on one the nearby hiking trails, wander over to the Mountain Bike Specialists bike shop and perhaps bump into mountain biking legend Ned Overend… or just kick back and do nothing but enjoy this bustling mountain village.

Today you’ll be on your own for lunch and dinner to enjoy one of Durango’s many fine restaurants or saloons, but breakfast at the Durango Diner is highly recommended! (Hint: Kitchen Sink Omelet with Green Chili Sauce)

Downtown Durango, Colorado

Downtown Durango, Colorado

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Day 9: Durango, CO to Ouray, CO
71-miles with approximately 7,700 feet of climbing

Outside Durango, pedal into the high San Juan Mountains past peaks that are the steepest and highest range in the state with more land mass above 10,000 feet then anywhere south of Alaska.

The route following the San Juan Skyway north presents three major cols; Coal Bank Pass (10,640’), Molas Pass (10,915’), and finally Red Mountain Pass (11,018’). The entire road surface was re-surfaced between the summers of 2009 and 2011 and as a result is in fantastic shape. After surviving the San Juan Skyway, the tour finishes at the Ouray Hot Springs Pools where cyclists can soak and relax after a hard days effort.

The Uncompahgre Gorge (a.k.a. The Million Dollar Highway)

The Uncompahgre Gorge (a.k.a. The Million Dollar Highway)

Climbing Red Mountain Pass

Climbing Red Mountain Pass

Elevation Profile: 71.2 mi +7705 ft / -6592 ft

Elevation Profile: +7700 ft / -6600 ft

Day 10: Ouray, CO to Gateway, CO
120-miles with approximately 4,600 feet of climbing

The Mountains to Desert (M2M) stage descends over 7,800-feet from Ouray to Gateway, Colorado! This is an inspiring 120 mile ride over Dallas Divide through the intimate confines of the Dolores River Canyons. The Dolores river canyon has been called by previous Lizard Head Cycling guests as the “most beautiful ride ever”. Come see for yourself! We call it is the most spectacular and least known road rides in Colorado.

The stage ending at the Gateway Canyons Resort has to be seen to be believed. There are few places in the world that can provide an experience and location such Gateway Canyons Resort. John Hendricks of the Discovery Channel built the resort in 2005. His love of Redrock Canyon country has created a destination that guests of Lizard Head Cycling Guides adore.

Big Turn of the Rio Dolores

Big Turn of the Rio Dolores

Gateway Canyons Resort

Gateway Canyons Resort

Elevation Profile: 120.2 mi +4619 ft / -7810 ft

Elevation Profile: +4600 ft / -7800 ft

Day 11: Gateway, CO to Paonia, CO
First Half: 43-miles with approximately 2,900 feet of climbing
Second Half: 69-miles with approximately 6,700 feet of climbing

After a relaxing morning spent in the beauty of Gateway Canyons Resort we will ride through the improbable beauty of Unaweep Canyon to Whitewater, Colorado. From Whitewater we shuttle to Mesa, Colorado from where the riding resumes for up a 5,000 foot climb to the 10,000-foot high Grand Mesa. From the summit, the ride descends to the Gunnison River through beautiful vineyards and peach groves and finally turns east pedaling around Hotchkiss ending at the Bross Hotel in Paonia, Colorado.

Lake on Grand Mesa

The Bross Hotel in Paonia, Colorado

First Half – Gateway to Whitewater, 43-Miles – Elevation Profile: +2900 ft / -2800 ft

Second Half – Mesa to Paonia, 69-Miles Elevation Profile: +6710 ft / -6700 ft

Day 12: Paonia, CO to Snowmass Village, CO
86-miles with approximately 6,800 feet of climbing

Rolling out from the Bross Hotel, cyclists soon pass Paonia Reservoir and then climb over McClure Pass topping out at over 8,800-feet in altitude. From here it a fast 3-mile descent down the other side of the pass and then a gradual downhill course along the Crystal River for the following 22-miles into Carbondale, Colorado.

From Carbondale we will ride on the car-free Rio Grande Trail for the next 23-miles before swinging south for the last push to Snowmass Village and to our evening lodging at the Stonebridge Inn.

Riding to McClure Pass

Riding to McClure Pass

Lizard Head support is always close at hand!

Lizard Head support is always close at hand!

Elevation Profile: +6790 ft / -3940 ft

Day 13: Snowmass Village, CO to Buena Vista, CO
91-miles with approximately 7,350 feet of climbing

Departing Snowmass Village we heads towards Aspen, Colorado, but not before a turn up into the magnificent Maroon Bells. Here we will take some time to admire the beauty of Maroon Bells, likely one of the most beautiful areas in all of Colorado, if certainly not one of the most photographed. Then it is screaming 10-mile descent back down to the valley turning right to pass through Aspen towards Independence Pass.

This stage of our 2-week odyssey reaches the highest elevation of the tour at 12,000-feet on Independence Pass. Independence is a long and beautiful climb that delivers above treeline views stretching across a landscape of alpine tundra and snow-capped peaks. From the pass a long descent to the finishing town of Buena Vista awaits. In Buena Vista we enjoy a cold brew and celebrate 2-weeks in the saddle. We continue the celebration to Woodland Park, Colorado for the final night of lodging. Tomorrow is the ascent of Pike’s Peaks!

View of the Maroon Bells: Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak.

View of the Maroon Bells: Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak.

Climbing Independence Pass

Climbing Independence Pass

Elevation Profile: +7350 ft / -7875 ft

Day 14: “Pike’s Peak or Bust!”
46-miles with approximately 9,200′ of climbing

Today is the final day of our 2-week Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic tour!

“Pike’s Peak or Bust” was a common refrain from gold seekers heading west in the 1800’s. This may be your refrain as you attempt to climb 7,000-feet in 162 turns over 18-miles to 14,110-feet. There are 10-miles of this climb with a 10% grade that are above 10,000-feet in elevation. But these are only numbers. 🙂  Pike’s Peak is consider perhaps the most arduous climb in North America.

This is a big climb; there will be suffering, doubt & elation. Cyclists will have all day to reach the top or not. NOTE: The Lizard Head Cycling vehicle is available for a bump to shorten this day. Cyclists do not have to ride the entire climb, but the views from the top are worth the effort!

Lizard Head owner John Humphries has this to say about Pikes Peak:

Pike’s Peak is the hardest road bike climb I have personally ever done, it is best described as unrelenting. The last time I made it to the top I felt as if I had been in a race and was struggling just to cross the finish line. All-in-all there is about 10-miles at 10% above 10,000-feet. Although the grade relaxes above 13,000-feet, there is so little oxygen that it does not feel easier. Pike’s Peak is a true accomplishment. It humbles good riders. With all that said these are only numbers… let us know how it feels cowboys and cowgirls!

Pike's Peak's Switchbacks

Pike’s Peak’s Switchbacks

Climbing Pikes Peak

Near the summit of Pike's Peak

Near the summit of Pike’s Peak

Elevation Profile: +8212 ft / -8210 ft

Elevation Profile: +8210 ft / -8210 ft

Spanish Peaks/Colorado Cols Epic: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.

Meals
Any dietary preferences or allergies should be noted on the registration form. Each of Lizard Head Cycling’s lunches contains gluten free options.

Ride Difficulty
This custom tour is designed for 3/4 (Advanced to Challenging) cyclists with various levels of fitness. Each day there are additional mileage options for advanced riders.

Tour Support
A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment will support this tour.

General Tour & Cancellation Policies

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides teams up with Seven Corners for travel insurance. Seven Corners offers:

  • Travel Medical
  • Medical Evacuation
  • 24/7 Assistance
  • Trip Cancellation

Be sure to go to our custom Seven Corners portal by clicking this link or by clicking the the banner on the right after confirming your tour with us to get a quote on travel insurance.