Dangerously cold temps await participants of the Four Seasons of Horsetooth Mountain Bike Challenge and the Pennock Pedaling Powwow Gravel ride this weekend. Both events take riders into relatively remote locations within Horsetooth Mountain Park and Lory State Park for the 4SOHC and Buckhorn Canyon, Pennock Pass and the Poudre Canyon for the roughly 100 mile Pedalling Powwow.
4SOHC is a self timed mtb race that takes place over 3 specific days during each of the 4 seasons. The Winter stage will take place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday Dec 17th, 18th and 19th. Racers can ride the course whenever or however many times they'd like during those 3 days. Saturday conditions will be the worst with temps only ranging from 4 degrees to -7. Conditions for those who decide to ride 4SOHC on Sunday are only slightly better with temps ranging from 19 to -1. Temps on Monday will be the nicest bottoming out at 2 degrees and climbing all the way to a sunny 26.
The 100 mile Pennock Pedaling Powwow gravel ride is slated to take place on Saturday. Temperatures in Fort Collins will be bitterly cold, 4 degrees to -7 and much colder in Buckhorn Canyon, snowy Pennock Pass and the Poudre Canyon. Be ready to walk much of Pennock Pass.
Hypothermia and frostbite are real concerns. If you decide to embark on these events this weekend, please follow these safety tips.
- Tell several people your exact route and when you plan to return.
- Ride with someone at all times.
- Charge your phone and keep it warm and dry (ziplock) but don't depend on it. Cell coverage is spotty at best in these locations.
- Dress to ski, not ride. Hand and toe warmers are a great idea, pack extra.
- Bring a fire starter and enough clothes for you to survive a night in the elements.
- Dress in layers and modulate your core temperature so you don't sweat. It's better to be cold on the climbs than hot and sweaty.
- Make sure your bike is in good working order and your tires are setup for the conditions. Changing a flat in these conditions will be horrible.
- Be sure to let ride organizers if you head home or leave the course so they're not out trying to find you.
- 4SOHC riders, check in with Park Rangers before you roll out and when you get done.
- Bonus tip from cyclist and backcountry ski expert, Steve Stefko; Make sure you are eating and drinking (editor-alcohol doesn't help) a bunch. You'll need the calories as your body is not only working to ride, but working to keep you warm. Drinking in the cold is maybe more important. As we sweat we loose blood volume and our bodies work even harder to stay warm. If your hands and feet are getting really cold, it could be from dehydration (thick blood won't heat hands and feet). A trick I use is to take a thermos of hot electrolyte mix. Hits the spot on those really cold days.
- Plan to be home before dark.
- No one is responsible for your safety if you choose to take part in these events except you.
- Keep an eye out for safety messages from ride organizers via social media, email and YGR.