Up for the Challenge – Deer Creek and Team Poppy

By Dian Trompler, Poppy Sports roving reporter


I certainly am! Should be after the last days of the Tour de France! What exciting and inspiring battles on the epic alpine climbs, and how about the tough determination demonstrated by Cadel Evans during each and every kilometer of his heroic time trial?

I love that the ride to the Champs-Elysees was one of jovial celebration of goals attained and hard work accomplished, smiles and joyous laughter after the grimaces expressing the pain of the previous three weeks!

The Challenge

As we go through Tour de France withdrawal it’s time to put the DVR remote away, at least until the USA Pro Cycling Challenge starts on August 22nd, and take on a challenge of our own. And, as fate would have it, we’re in luck! The Deer Creek Challenge, billed as the toughest century in the country is just around the bend on Sunday, August 21!

The number of women supporting the Deer Creek Challenge in the past has been minimal. This year, though, Poppy Sports has resolved to change that. As women cyclists riding in and training for a variety of events, we have something to prove! So, pull on the team uniform, comfy cycling shorts with a Poppy Sports Team retro cycling jersey, and join with the ladies of Poppy Sports Team to up the ante and support women’s cycling!

Deer Creek, here we come

Taming the beast

The Deer Creek Challenge rides out of Denver through the foothills into the Rockies. A distance exists for every cyclist from 33 miles to 62 to 100. All of the routes climb 4,200 feet out of Littleton to City View. The shortest course returns down High Grade Road at City View, while the other courses continue climbing.

Choosing the 62-mile route, you choose to climb about 7,000 feet into Evergreen. At the other end of the spectrum, the 100-mile route continues on to Shadow Mountain for an elevation gain of over 12,000 feet.

Should you happen to bite off more than you can chew, the 89-mile cut-off of the 100-mile route eliminates the return trip to City View. Well-supplied aid stations, nutritional and mechanical support, a BBQ post-ride, and commemorative t-shirts as well as free beer and massages make this a ride not to miss!

Team Poppy

Poppy Sports is one of the few women-only teams entered in the Deer Creek Challenge. You’ll find a team member going the distance in each category. Mention that you are riding with the team and receive $10 off your entry fee. Just use the special code DCCBIKE11 when you register. After the ride, re-hash the grades that made you grimace, caused your heart to pound like a drum, and celebrate your achievement with friends and teammates in the Poppy Sports tent, complete with private drink service.

Poppy Sports women's retro cycling jersey
Going retro

Check out the team uniforms especially designed for Poppy Sports. Melanie Mitchell, owner of Poppy Sports, says, “We’re going retro with a nod to the glory days of cycling for those that recall the Coors Classic!” The limited-edition jersey will ship before the ride from the Poppy Sports online store. Stock will be limited, so reserve your retro cycling jersey today. Even if I weren’t going to ride, I’d have to add this to my cycling apparel.

Thinking that it might be too long of a day in the saddle to aim for at this point?

Still a few weeks away, you have a couple of options to help you prepare. The Poppy Sports Denver Training Group is training for the grueling climbs and distance. Fun and supportive, this group of active women with children, careers, and more encourage one another to complete their goals. When you sign up with the group you’ll be notified of when and where they ride.

The second option, a free 5-week training plan, outlines a schedule to assist riders with sufficient conditioning for a long day in the saddle. Gradually increasing your time on the bike is crucial to building the confidence to endure the 62- or 100-mile courses. The neck, shoulder, and arm muscles that support your body and the gluteal and leg muscles that transport you up the mountains will adapt to the stress with increased time in the saddle recommended by this plan. Work on your climbing form by making hills part of your rides several times a week.

Additionally, some good solid core work two to three times a week will ease the strain on your back and shoulder muscles.  Some suggestions to strengthen your mid-section can be found at this great triathlon site.

Eating for Endurance

Nutrition and hydration should also be a part of your training. It’s important to learn what your body needs and when to eat it during a ride to aid the muscles to cover the distance you desire.

The goal of fueling your body on a long endurance ride is to keep a steady stream of carbohydrates transported to your laboring muscles. Gels, blocks, Cliff minis, and sports drinks with the proper electrolyte composition are the kinds of carbohydrates that will quickly assist your muscles to efficiently sustain their work.

Ingesting the right ratio of carbs and protein post-training facilitates repair of the muscle fibers before your next ride.

Register for the Ride Today

Remember to use code DCCBIKE11

and note that you are part of the Poppy Sports team on registration