The Big Three

A couple years ago my friend Rick told me about some area elite cyclist doing a ride that combined three obnoxiously hard hills and  into one monstrous workout.  I had a hard time believing him, when he said that these fellas even do this workout multiple times in one week.  Being impressed with all the successes of these riders (who were senior to my ability and my already ripe masters age of 36), I decided to adopt this ride into my training and even have some of my hill climbing inspired athletes work it into their training arsenal. The ride starts from wherever you want near Boulder and goes up Baseline rd or flagstaff mountain Rd. Personally, I start in Louisville about 30minutes from where I start my watch on Baseline and 17th. Flagstaff mountain road, AKA ‘Super Flag,’ is a 5 mile climb with grades ranging from 4% for a good stint up to 18% for a full 1/2 mile and tops out at around 7700 feet. The climb from 17th takes me at around 31-33minutes at a strong pace. Today was 32:45. I drop back down and work my way over to Canyon or Hwy 119 and casually work my way up to Sugar Loaf road. Sugar Loaf is a pretty steady climb at 8-12% grade that is harder than it seams because there is really no forgiveness or false flats and hardly any switch backs. From the turn off of Canyon to the top at Switzerland trail road at around 7800 feet takes me about 29-31minutes. Today was 29:30. I then descend back to Canyon in about 6 minutes and make the quick 200 meter jaunt over to Magnolia Rd which is only about 200meters from the bottom of Sugar Loaf.  Magnolia is a monster that starts off at 18% grade for 1/4 mile and then tapers off to a measly 12-15% for the next mile. There are two false flats that give you little rest but it keeps throwing steep 15-18% pitches at you until it finally tops out at over 8000 feet. I can get up this one fresh in about 30minutes and at strong but very tired pace in between 33-35minutes. Today was 33:50. I did the Big Three with a friend and athlete I coach, Nate Llerandi, and he rivaled me up each climb by Super Flag by 60 seconds, Sugar Loaf by 45 seconds, and Magnolia by 2 full minutes. …great to have a mountain goat out there suffering with me, keeping me honest and kicking my ##?&$$! If you are up for a challenge, give it a try and welcome the burning lungs, exploded legs, tired back and all the negative thoughts as if they were a gift from mother nature! …because on this most spectacular ride, they certainly are! Three big hills in under four hours of riding equals one big smoothie and a good lunch!

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Head Coach of TriEndurance. CSCS Strength and Conditioning Coach, Former Pro-Triathlete and current Endurance Enthusiast competing in short and long distance (on or off-road) cycling events.

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