Boulder Fearsome Five; Los Cinco Diablos
I’ve been training in Boulder now for a little bit over three weeks, and have quickly become familiar with most of the major climbs in the area. Last week I learned about a ride called the Boulder Fearsome Five, or Los Cinco Diablos; an epic ride with the sole purpose of completing the five main climbs from Boulder in the most efficient way possible. The result? A little under 170km with 4600 meters of climbing in 6 and a half hours in the saddle. Ok, I concede that this doesn’t come close to the realm of everesting, however once you incorporate the effects of altitude, this ride quickly turns into one of the most challenging I have ever done.
I completed the ride going from South to North. Here’s a breakdown of the climbs in that order:
Climb #1: Flagstaff. 7.3km @ 8%.
The first climb of the day is probably the most iconic climb in Boulder and was featured in the USA Pro Challenge. I doubt there’s been a cyclist who has been to boulder and hasn’t ridden up this climb. If you’ve been here, you’ll know why. If you haven’t, I recommend that you do. My old mate Stalder likes referring to KOM’s as either ‘low-hanging fruit’ or ‘fruit out-of-reach’. This climb is definitely the latter.
Climb #2: Magnolia . 7.2km @ 9%.
Steep. Switchbacks. Baw Baw. Those are the three words that come to mind whilst climbing this beast. The first three kilometres average 12%, and you can’t really get up them without working hard. Do not set auto-pause on your garmin, that’s what rookies do.
Climb #3: Sugarloaf. 7.5km @ 8%.
The start of this climb offers some pleasant views of the first couple of switchbacks from magnolia. I recommend taking in that view as long as possible for two reasons. Firstly, it justifies how steep the climb that you just completed really is (give yourself a pat on the back), and secondly, it makes Sugarloaf feel a whole lot easier. That feeling is shortly lived. Once at the summit just to add a little bit of extra climbing, the fearsome five demands that you descend the other side for 700metres at -10% until the road turns to dirt. Pull a U-turn and spend the next 5 minutes climbing back to where you once were less than a minute ago.
Climb #4: Fourmile Canyon. 13.9 @ 5%.
With 6km @ 8% of dirt, this climb takes you up to a little town called Gold Hill. Other than a handful of old buildings there’s not a whole lot going on in Gold Hill, but this means the climb is quiet… The town witnessed a large bushfire a few years ago (168 houses destroyed in 2010) and then a devastating flood in 2013 which caused some further damage to the town. Who would have thought you’d get a history lesson whilst reading my blog.
Climb #5: Super Jamestown 12km @ 5%. (Includes Lee Hill Climb 7km @ 6%)
Lee Hill climb isn’t included in the fearsome five. I guess the fearsome six doesn’t have the same ring to it, and cinco sounds better than seis in my opinion. For whatever the reason, spending 20 minutes climbing a climb that doesn’t count as a climb is mentally challenging, but at the same time knowing there was only one more to go was highly motivating… After descending the other side of Lee Hill, the climb into Jamestown is easy enough but becomes increasingly challenging towards the summit, with an 800 metre section averaging 15%. Ouch.
And there you have it. The fearsome five, or les cinco diablos. I don’t think you can really put into words what completing a ride like this feels like, but I can tell you it was one epic ride!
Thanks for reading,