This is our personal “preview” of day 3 (Saturday) of the 2020 Pikes Peak APEX. Please keep in mind that this preview is not an official course description and the course is subject to change. Watch for information provided by the APEX race, and for course markings which may vary slightly from this preview.
Day 3 begins in Bear Creek Park and takes racers through the park on doubletrack until joining Gold Camp Road. Gold Camp is paved for just a bit, and then changes to a gravel road that’s open to passenger vehicles. At about four miles in, you’ll pass the Captain Jack’s parking lot, where an aid station will be available. (This is also is the finish line for this stage.)
Tunnel #1 is right after you pass the Captain Jack’s parking lot, and Tunnel #2 follows shortly after. Plan to remove your sunglasses in all of the tunnels! The road is pretty smooth through all of the tunnels, though occasionally there can be rocks or small potholes.
At the parking lot where Gold Camp Road meets Cheyenne Canon Road and High Drive, racers will ride through the parking lot and continue on Gold Camp Road, which is closed to vehicles from this point.
As a former railroad line, the grade on most of this climb is not very steep and averages around 4%. Keep in mind that on the sections that are closed to vehicles, there are many sections that have thick granite scree, so it doesn’t roll as smoothly as a typical gravel road.
Be ready for the short, steep climb that goes up and over Tunnel #3, which collapsed in 1988. There’s also a short technical downhill stretch as you go back down to the road. Just a little warmup for the techy descent later in the day!
Pull those sunglasses down: Tunnel #4 is over 500 feet long, and gets very dark in the middle – even darker than the video portrays. It’s a weird feeling see the light at the end of the tunnel, but be in utter darkness!
Continuing up the mountain, Tunnel #5 takes a curving route through the granite, and you can’t see the end when you enter, but it quickly appears. This one is not nearly as long as Tunnel #4.
At about mile 15, Gold Camp Road will detour onto Old Stage Road for about a mile. (This is to bypass Tunnel #6 and Tunnel #7, both of which are collapsed.) An aid station will be located at the intersection of Gold Camp and Old Stage. Old Stage Road is quite a bit steeper than Gold Camp, but you’ll only be on it for about a mile before rejoining the railroad grade of Gold Camp at the trailhead for St. Peter’s Dome. From this point until the turnoff to Frosty Park, the road is again open to motorized vehicles.
Once you reach St. Peter’s Dome, you have about three more miles on Gold Camp until you turn off the road and head up just a bit more to Frosty Park. The fun descents of Pipeline, Jones Park, and Captain Jack’s await! (With a big change in the type of terrain, we’re saving that description for another video.)
See you at the Apex!