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Boulder Fearsome Five; Los Cinco Diablos

13th July 2015
Los Cinco Diablos. Click to view strava activity.

Los Cinco Diablos. Click to view strava activity.

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.

Near the summit of Flagstaff

Near the summit of Flagstaff

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.

Switchback on Magnolia. You'll see this again soon

Switchback on Magnolia. You’ll see this again soon

Another switchback on Magnolia.

Another switchback on Magnolia. Ed Green gave me that scar on my knee.

Climbing Boulder Creek Canyon to reach Magnolia

Climbing Boulder Creek Canyon to reach Magnolia

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.

Views down to Boulder Creek Canyon. And Josh Berry.

Views down to Boulder Creek Canyon. And Josh Berry.

Remember that switchback on Magnolia? Here it is, as seen from Sugarloaf.

Remember that switchback on Magnolia? Here it is, as seen from Sugarloaf.

Same switchback. Colour version.

Same switchback. Colour version.

More views down to Boulder Creek Canyon

More views down to Boulder Creek Canyon

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.

Gold Hill; the summit of Fourmile Canyon

Gold Hill; the summit of Fourmile Canyon

Climbing Fourmile Canyon. Dirt.

Climbing Fourmile Canyon. Dirt.

Gravel switchback on Fourmile Canyon

Gravel switchback on Fourmile Canyon

Gravel grinding on Fourmile Canyon

Gravel grinding on Fourmile Canyon

Descending after climbing Fourmile Canyon down Sunshine Canyon. More dirt.

Descending after climbing Fourmile Canyon down Sunshine Canyon. More dirt. More views.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2877.

Colour version.

[wpvideo Bwr1pyB5]

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.

Cresting Jamestown. Too tired to take photo's during this climb.

Cresting Jamestown. Too tired to take photo’s during this climb.

The gentle climb leading into Jamestown

The gentle climb leading into Jamestown

Done.

Done.

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,
BC

9 comments

  1. Love the write-up. Looks like some incredible climbs. Just out of curiosity which climb would you Everest if you were to do one?

    1. Interesting question. I probably wouldn’t choose to everest Magnolia, although that would be pretty sweet… and the dirt climb up to Gold Hill is probably off the list too. Flagstaff, Sugarloaf and Jamestown all have their own strengths and weaknesses when considering an Everest. I would probably want to do it on Flagstaff due to it’s iconic nature, however the road can get busy and may result in a slow descent.

      1. Brendan Edwards

        Reckon I’d put money on you doing the fastest ever Everest……..

  2. Epic! Like you said, factor in the altitude and it’s nuts. Great write-up and pics.

    Also, who you calling old??? 😉

    1. thanks haha, I thought you would comment about old-mate! …I’m just poking the bear from wheres it’s safe 🙂

  3. Love the writeup, thanks for sharing. You’ve got to admit that it’s other territories than where we’re from that have the truly quality climbing terrain … hopefully you get the opportunity to have a quite prolonged stay in such surrounds at some stage in the future. 🙂

    1. thanks mate! I agree, there’s something special about these hills… I can’t imagine what it would be like riding through the French Alps. On the other hand, I also think Bright has plenty to offer in terms of epic climbs. Can’t wait to head up there this summer. It will have been almost a month training here in Boulder before I fly to Utah the Tour of Utah before flying back to Colorado for the USA Pro Challenge. All up just about 90 days in USA/Canada, and I think I’ll be ready to come home to Spring in Melbourne 🙂

  4. Hey Brendan, great to follow your exploits in the USA and Canada. Now that you’ve been on the Cervélo for a while, how do you rate it to the other bikes you’ve had. Were you on a Swift Carbon bike at Utah? I’m looking to upgrade and The Swift Ultravox TI and BMC SLR-01 are both bikes I’m drawn to.

    1. Thanks Alain!
      I must admit that I really do like the Cervelo S3, and our training bike, the R3 is also very nice. But to be honest, it’s hard to rank them. All three are top end frames and I raced them with top end groupsets, so they all felt nice to ride with subtle differences. I think fit is very important, so above all make sure the bike fits you nicely. All three can come in at 6.8kg depending on groupset and wheels if that’s part of your consideration. I know the above was probably unhelpful, but I hope it helps 🙂

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