Second Annual SufferFest (2009)

Description and Registration
The Route
Day of SufferFest
What to Pack?
On-the-Trail Expectations
Post-Ride Celebration
What If You Have to Bail?
Contact Us

Description and Registration


SufferFest 2009 is a fully supported epic mountain bike ride to tour the best (singletrack) and the worst (roads) that Boulder County has to offer. But the goal here is universal - to suffer through an epic ride at the hands of Boulder County's rocky, technical trails and jeep roads. The ride will occur Saturday September 12th with a campout at Beaver Reservoir. Food and drink will be provided, as will shuttles back to Boulder or Nederland the morning Sunday the 13th after we camp out (but wouldn't you rather ride down?). If you have the legs to conquer the mountains, this is a ride you do not want to miss. If you can't ride all day and love the hurt, best sit this one out till you've trained up.

The ride will start promptly at 8:00 am at Nederland High School. Please show up at least 15 minutes early to pack your gear in the shuttle vehicles.

Event Registration and Requirements

All riders are required to register online .  If you are signing up for more than one person please include all the additional participant's names and emails in the message section of the sign up. We can only register folks if we have this information. Participation is limited to Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA) members only - if you are not already a member, become a BMA member here before registering for this event.

Registration for this event is now closed.

On the morning of the ride, each rider will be required to fill out a release form stating that any pictures taken while participating in SufferFest activities can be used without their permission.  A liability release form must also be signed stating that the ride, the ride organizers or its sponsors are in no way responsible for anything that may happen to your person, gear -- or your feelings.

BMA highly recommends that each rider purchase a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card.  If you are injured and volunteer search and rescue teams have to pull you off a trail, mission costs can run in the thousands of dollars, but a CORSAR card will reimburse the search teams for costs they incur while rescuing you.  Cards cost $3 for a one year card; $12 for five years. CORSAR cards can be purchased online or at select local businesses such as REI and McGuckins.  (Anyone with a current hunting/fishing license, or boat, snowmobile, ATV registration is already covered by the fund.)

The Route

The starting point is Nederland High School at 8:00 am. The minimum first day’s ride will bring riders from Nederland to Beaver Reservior to the west of the Peak to Peak Highway - over 33.5 miles north with 4300 feet of climbing. The full first day ride travels beyond Beaver Reservoir to do a loop on the Buchanan Pass trail. The full route travels a total of 44.5 miles with 5600 feet of climbing. We will camp and party at Beaver Reservoir on Saturday night.  On day two, riders have the option to either be shuttled back to Nederland or Boulder, or they can ride back to Boulder on their own (i.e. unsupported).  Each day can be a grueling challenge on technical trails and jeep roads - make sure you are up for it.

Although there are a few points where leaving the trail is possible, none are easy or convenient. You should be prepared to finish each stage of the ride and not count on ‘bailing out’ early, as this will be difficult at best.  Riders should only join this event if they can reasonably complete a 30+ mile mountain bike ride over challenging terrain, meaning 6+ hours of pedaling without many breaks.

Detailed Route Description and Map

The SufferFest route will use trails and 4WD roads between Nederland to Beaver Reservior and beyond, many of which are very challenging and remote. The route starts at Nederland High School, goes up to the West Magnolia area, and makes a loop on singletrack. This loop will consist of USFS TR926, TR926B, TR926A, TR355I, FS355, TR355A and then back down the 926 trails. In popular parlance, we will ascend Sugar Magnolia, do a loop around the Hobbit trails, cross over the Observatory Trail and descend Sugar Magnolia, coming out next to Nederland High School. We will then take County Road 130 to the town of Eldora and ascend FS505 to the old Caribou Townsite. The first aid station will be located at the old Caribou Townsite. We will continue along FS505 to CR116 (Rainbow Lakes Road) and then descend towards the Peak to Peak Highway (CO72) to the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead for the Sourdough Trail. This is your first available restroom facility. We will then ascend Sourdough A (TR835) and cross Brainard Lake Road at the Red Rock Trailhead. This is the location of the second aid station and your second available restroom facility. From here we continue along Sourdough B (TR835), ride the Wapiti Trail (TR816), then ride Sourdough C (TR835) to Beaver Reservoir. The third aid station and restroom facility is located here. The ride will continue up Beaver Reservoir Road (CR96) to the Beaver Reservoir Cutoff Trail and descend to Sourdough D (TR835). We will then ride up the Middle St. Vrain Road (FS114), descend the Buchanan Pass Trail, and ride back up Sourdough D (TR835) to end at Beaver Reservoir. The aid station at Beaver Reservoir will also act as our campsite, overlooking great views of the continental divide.

Click here for a map of the SufferFest route.

Day of SufferFest

How to Get There

Parking will be limited at the Nederland High School staging area. We encourage as many people as possible to take the 6:50 am RTD bus, which will drop you off at Nederland High School at 7:25 am, perfect time to organize your gear before starting at 8:00 am. We are arranging for a separate shuttle that will meet in Boulder that can take 10 riders and their bikes (details coming soon). Please carpool with others if you intend on driving up. We will provide transportation back to the staging area on Sunday morning, but we still need to minimize the number of cars left in the parking lot.

Gear Shuttle

All group camping gear will be collected at the Nederland High School staging area at 7:45 am on Saturday, before people start riding. Please have your camping gear and spare clothes packed in a WATERPROOF container and limit what you bring to only the essentials; we are shuttling gear to Beaver Reservoir for 60+ people and space will be tight! 

We recommend a storage bin like this or a waterproof gear bag (for kayaking or canoeing).  Bins are easily purchased at McGuckins, Target, or Home Depot; see your local outdoor retailer for waterproof bags.

What to Pack?

On the Ride

On the trail, please be prepared to be self-sufficient. This is a longer backcountry ride where available help might be far away, so pack accordingly. There are serious objective hazards such as ELECTRICAL STORMS OR HYPOTHERMIA due to inclement weather. It is best to be prepared for bad weather. Being equipped and in shape will increase your safety and comfort on this ride. There are only a few places to bail out and cell phone reception is spotty at best. In short be prepared to ride point to point.

Here is the long list of what to bring on a ride like this. You can get away with less, but don't prune this list too much, especially for folks who do not do long alpine rides often. Use your best judgment and err on the side of 'too much stuff' rather than be caught unprepared.

You can squeeze all this into a smaller hydration pack (e.g. Camelback Mule) but it is tight and uncomfortable, we suggest you use a larger hydration pack.

Camping Gear

Dinner and breakfast will be provided at Beaver Reservior. You DO NOT need to bring any cooking supplies, or food for those two meals. Don't forget to pack:

Tent space is limited at Beaver Reservoir, so please plan on sharing your tent with a partner. If you bring a huge family-size tent, plan on sharing it with others - smaller tents are preferable.

If you have additional bike parts, bike tools and/or a collapsible stand, we may need you to bring them; 4-5 bike stands will be needed, but no more than that. Please let us know (mailto: [email protected]) if you are willing and able to have your tools or bike stand on-hand for the weekend.

On-the-Trail Expectations

Team Travel

It is highly recommended that riders travel in groups of two or more. This is a long and serious ride. To keep people safe, it is important to always have a buddy who can help in the event of an accident, mechanical issue, etc.

First Aid

At least one person in each team should carry a small first aid kit and/or any medications that team members may require. Remember, Ibuprofen can be a lifesaver when you’re sore and bruised. If people are allergic to stings, make sure to have an Epi-pin on hand.

Bike Maintenance

Be prepared for mechanical issues such as flats, broken chains, brake issues, etc. At least one guide or "sweep" will stay at the rear of the group to help ensure that no one is left behind, but you should be prepared to act as a self-sufficient team and not have to rely on additional help. Dial-in your rig a couple of weeks before the ride and please PUT SOME MILES (~30-50 miles) ON NEW COMPONENTS. The rule of thumb before a big ride like this is: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s much nicer to enjoy a beer and food after the first day’s ride than it is to stress over broken equipment.

The minimum bike repairs you should know how to do are below in rank order. You will likely team up with folks, but don’t count on it; be self-sufficient.

You can squeeze all this into a smaller hydration pack (e.g. Camelback Mule) but it is tight and uncomfortable, we suggest you use a larger hydration pack.

Mountain Travel

Weather will happen - be prepared! Have a solid rain jacket, arm warmers, leg warmers, thin hat, long finger gloves, etc. That said, none of these items will protect you against lightning. Be ready to take shelter and weather-out a storm. It is advised that at least one person, per team of two, carry a map such as the map on this website.
or the Boulder County Latitude 40 map.


Make sure to stay hydrated! The key to a successful and enjoyable ride is to make sure you start each day hydrated and continue to drink water throughout the ride. Carry at least 100oz of water as well as a filtration system or potable water tablets, in case you need to refill from a stream or pond.

We will have water available at two aid stations:  Caribou Townsite and Brainard Lake Road.


Trail food is not provided with the exception of some minor snacks or bars. You know your body and how it burns calories. Pack accordingly: energy bars, energy gel, sandwiches, etc.  As a rule of thumb, your stomach can absorb 200-300 calories per hour, so anticipate needing at least that much food per hour to keep going for the entire ride.

Altitude Illness

The elevation of the trail ranges between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Dizziness, shortness of breath, and vomiting are just a few symptoms that may occur when exercising at this height. The more fit and hydrated you are, the less likely it is that you’ll suffer from altitude sickness. If you do become sick, it may require leaving the trip and descending to a lower elevation. Be prepared to monitor your health and make prudent decisions.


Being able to enjoy this ride will largely depend on your level of fitness. High altitude makes even moderate climbs feel difficult. This section of trail is demanding even for seasoned riders. Make sure you come to this trip in strong physical condition. You should do your best to have a number of long ‘practice’ rides under your belt prior to the SufferFest. Anything you can do to acclimate your body to the elevation and terrain prior to this weekend will make it that much more enjoyable and keep the pain level at a minimum.

Post-Ride Celebration

Half the reason to do this ride is for the big campout and party we will hold afterwards. Bonfire and good times relaxing after a big ride!

BMA will provide at camp:

What If You Have to Bail?

For logistical and safety reasons, riders are strongly encouraged not to bail - if you think or know in advance that you cannot complete the ride for any reason, please do not join up in the first place.  That said, sometimes conditions or bike failures mean that you have to leave the ride before completion.  If you do have to bail, please do so at one of the aid stations so you can inform a SufferFest volunteer that you are leaving the route.  Otherwise get another rider or reliable buddy to inform a SufferFest volunteer that you are bailing.  If you do not inform SufferFest volunteers that you have left the ride, we will send out search and rescue teams to find you and you will be billed for the expense - don't go there!

Contact Us

Scott Winget (mailto: [email protected])

Andria Bilich (mailto: [email protected])


We gratefully acknowledge the CT Jamboree and its organizers as a model for SufferFest 2009, the second year of our BMA epic ride!