So just how difficult is this ride? Should a beginning cyclist try this?
The Cottonwood 2oo is a ride, not a race—cyclists of all ages can complete it with sufficient training. A good gauge of your fitness would be the ability to complete a single day 50 to 60 mile ride, and feel good enough that you want to keep riding. There is no required minimum pace, but it is recommended that riders be able to maintain at least a 10 mph average in order to finish the 75 mile days in a timely manner.
What about the hills/elevation changes?
While Kansas does not have mountains, the heart of this ride goes through the Flint Hills, which can be surprising in their gradient and length. In addition, Kansas weather can add difficulty – late May can be hot, and there is always the strong possibility of wind. While the exact direction and strength of wind is impossible to predict, it is likely that you will have at least one day with a headwind and one with a refreshing tailwind. For the Cottonwood 200, riders should train as often as possible – two to three times during the week and longer rides on the weekend. It’s a good idea to do hill training if possible, and ride into a headwind when available.
Is this a good training for other rides later in the season?
Yes! The 3-day length of the Cottonwood 200 makes it a perfect warm up ride for those planning week-long rides such as the Bike Across Kansas and other cross-state rides. Besides the physical training, the Cottonwood 200 can help you test gear and refine your packing list. The ride’s terrain and date on the calendar also makes it a great training ride for those planning participation in other Flint Hills rides such as the Dirty Kanza. Gravel routes are an option on all three days of the 2019 ride.
How many people will be on this ride?
The Cottonwood is limited to 300 participants due to the size of accommodations in Council Grove.
Where and when does the race start?
The ride will start at 7:45 am Saturday, May 25, 2019 from Washburn University parking lot #7. Participants should arrive no later than 7:00 am for registration and loading of gear. Riders will return to Washburn University on Monday, May 27th. Arrival times depend on the rider, but are generally between 11:30 am and 3:00 pm.
I can’t ride all three days. Are one and two day options available?
Yes! Sunday (Day 2) covers a beautiful part of the Flint Hills and is a great option for those who can only bike one day. Two day options are also available. Riders who wish to ride only one or two days, but who will be available all three days, can ride for FREE by volunteering at least four hours during the ride. Please contact the volunteer coordinator, Lea Ann Curtis.
Where do I park and is it safe to leave a vehicle?
The ride will begin and end at the southwest parking lot (#7) of Washburn University in Topeka, near the corner of SW 20th St. and MacVicar Ave. The area receives regular patrols from the Washburn University police department and has proven to be very safe over the 40+ years of hosting the Cottonwood 200.
How do I transport my gear?
Rider gear is transported to and from Council Grove in an enclosed truck – all you have to do is ride your bike. See the Ride Guide for more details.
What should I pack?
The suggested packing list on the Ride Guide page has a list of recommended items.
What are the overnight accommodations?
Participants will stay overnight Saturday and Sunday in the air-conditioned gym at Council Grove High School. This is “indoor camping” – bring a sleeping bag and air mattress or other padding. Those wanting an outdoor experience can camp on the grounds of the high school, while still having access to the restrooms, hot showers and a common area. Those wanting other accommodations can find lodging options at the Council Grove Dining and Lodging website. Please note: riders making accommodations other than at Council Grove High School will be responsible for arranging transportation of their belongings from the high school to their hotel/guest house.
Will there be a place to charge my phone and lights?
Yes. Charging stations will be available at the high school in Council Grove.
Are non-riding participants welcome? Can they volunteer?
Yes! Non-riding spouses and friends are welcome. You can purchase meal tickets for them; or, if they are willing to volunteer at least four hours over the three days of the ride, they can eat for FREE. Volunteer opportunities include times before and after the ride, as well as multiple occasions during the ride: staff a SAG (rest area), help with organizing items at the high school, or driving a sweep vehicle to check on riders. Please contact the volunteer coordinator, Lea Ann Curtis to volunteer.
Can I buy a t-shirt or jersey to commemorate the ride?
T-shirts are included in the ride fee for all riders registered before the deadline. Jerseys are produced for each five year anniversary of the ride and the next jersey will be available in 2021.