The Lake City Alpine 50 is an epic fifty-mile high-alpine endurance bike race starting in historic Lake City, Colorado. This is NOT a mountain bike race and it is NOT a gravel race. It is a high-alpine endurance bike race unlike anything else out there. This lung-busting race will take you by the iconic Lake San Cristobal before a long, steep climb to the top of Cinnamon Pass (12,640 feet). You then descend the steep, rocky, pass for two miles and start up the very tough, steep, four-mile climb to Engineer Pass (12,800) feet. Another very long, rocky descent takes you back to Lake City. The race features 6,000+ feet of climbing through some of the most iconic sections of the San Juan Mountains.
Lake City sits nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains at 8,671 feet. Lake City is named after the iconic nearby Lake San Cristobal, one of the largest natural lakes in Colorado. Lake City is located in a valley formed by the convergence of Henson Creek and the headwaters of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. Lake City has a year-round population of around 400 people but swells in the summer months as people flock to this beautiful town to play in the surrounding mountains. Lake City has five prominent 14,000 peaks in near proximity to the town.
Human Powered Endeavors is a Colorado company formed by John Coy and Michael Fleishman. Human Powered Endeavors, as the name aptly states, is focused on bringing human powered sporting events to Lake City, Colorado.
The race will start at 7:00 a.m.
The course record for the Lake City Alpine 50 was set by Peter Stetina in 2020 – 3:15:46. The fastest women’s time was established by Alexis Skarda in 2020 – 3:55:07. In 2020, our last riders came in a little over seven hours.
If you do not reach the top of Cinnamon Pass (approximately 25 miles into the race) by 11:00 a.m., you will be asked to turn around and head back the same direction you came back to Lake City. Obviously, if you do not think you can make it back to Lake City from the Pass, we will make provisions to get you back to town.
Lake City is located at 8,671 feet. The average high temperature in August is usually around 74 degrees and the average low around 43 degrees. It did not rain for the inaugural Lake City Alpine 50 but it sure did for the 2nd Annual race, with temperatures falling to the high 30’s on Cinnamon Pass. The sun rises at 6:36 a.m. and the sun sets at 7:54 p.m. The temperature at the start of the race will likely be in the mid-forties if there are no major weather systems coming through. One guarantee in the San Juans is that forecasting the weather is a futile effort.
Given that you lose an average of 3.5º F for every 1,000 feet you go up in elevation, it will remain pretty cool the entire race, so dress accordingly (keep those toes and fingers and core warm, especially if there is rain).
Remember, this is Colorado and the weather can change and change quickly – especially in the high country. So, it could rain, it could hail and it could even snow above tree line. It should be no surprise that lightning is hazardous, especially above the timberline where you are exposed.
Hypothermia can occur under the right set of circumstances – falling temperatures, wind, and precipitation.
You will riding above timberline in the alpine tundra. Everyone’s body reacts differently in this zone, so you need to listen to your body. Most importantly though, you need to hydrate along the way. It will be a very slow grind (for most riders) up to the passes and breathing at 12,000 feet is really tough. Take it easy and hydrate.
We strongly suggest you bring the following items:
- Rain gear
- Windbreaker (with hood)
- Polypro or wool socks, hat, and gloves
- Fuel (whatever you think you will need beyond what will be supplied)
- Lip protection
The Lake City Chamber of Commerce has great information on Lake City accommodations. From yurts to bed & breakfasts to camping, Lake City has a little bit of everything. Please visit http://www.lakecity.com/component/sobipro/2?Itemid=178.
Based on feedback after our inaugural race, it was clear that a FS mountain bike was the preferred bike choice for the top racers. The climbs and descents up to and down from Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass are tough, rocky, and very STEEP. Some riders crush the course on a gravel bike but beware if you choose a gravel bike (with anything less than a 2.0 tire), as this is high-alpine riding!!
In 2020, we awarded prizes for the top five men and top five women finishers. We also award prizes for the Fastest Town. The Fastest Town takes the top three men’s and the top two women’s combined times from a given town.
Carbondale (women) and Durango (men) were crowned the Fastest Town in the inaugural Lake City Alpine 50 in 2019. Boulder (women) and Durango (men) were crowned the Fastest Towns in 2020.
Lake City has its own medical center – The Lake City Area Medical Center located at 700 North Henson. (970) 944-2331. https://www.lcamc.org/
Gunnison Valley Hospital – 711 North Taylor Street, Gunnison, Colorado 81230. (970) 641-1456. Gunnison is located fifty-five miles to the north of Lake City.
Again, this is a USA Cycling sanctioned race. The rules may be accessed at this following link: https://www.usacycling.org/resources/rulebook
No. This race is self-supported. No neutral support. Choose your equipment wisely.
The course will be open to general traffic, including Jeeps and ATVs, so please be aware that you will not have the course to yourself. That being said, because the race will start early, the amount of traffic will be reduced. Many off-road vehicles will go down to Ouray or Silverton for lunch, which means that by the time you are making your way down from Engineer Pass (around mile 30) you will not encounter heavy traffic. We are encouraging spectators to stay off the course throughout the race. If you wish to watch from a great vantage point on the course, please try to stay there until all racers have passed before making your way back to town for the finish.
This is NOT a closed course and you will undoubtedly encounter OHV/ATVs on the course. While most will be courteous, there is no guarantee that you will NOT encounter the occasional driver that is simply not courteous. Additionally, because this is an open course, you must be mindful of your speed on the descents to ensure your safety. We cannot emphasize this enough.
We were able to successfully hold the Lake City Alpine 50 in August 2020 based on a number of factors. First, we limited the field to 125 riders. We had each rider fill out a Covid waiver, mandated masks at the start of the race, and staggered the start with waves of 10 riders separated by one minute intervals. We had an outside packet pickup appropriately spaced and we did NOT have an after-race party. Our awards ceremony was outside, spaced, and masks were mandated.
We intend to implement similar measures for 2021 depending on the scope of the pandemic.