I'm traveling to visit friends in Littleton in August and I was looking for some advice on routes and equipment. I live in the middle of Illinois, so this is the first time I will have ever done any real climbing and I'm not sure what to expect. Ideally I would like to find rides of around 40 miles and contain climbs that are not going to kill me, and be within riding distance of my friend's house. They live in the SW part of Littleton near 121 and Chatfield. I'm an above average cat 5 racer, soon to be average cat 4 racer, I weigh 155 lbs, and I figure I'll climb at around 230W (threshold 275W). I'm also trying to decide on shipping my bike (standard 39 tooth small ring and I'll put on the 28 tooth cassette) or trying to find a rental with a compact.
My first question is about routes. The Deer Creek Canyon route looks like a good fit because it starts a couple miles away from their house and the grades look like they could be manageable for my weight and power (I've done a bunch of power/grade/speed/cadence calcs). Is this climb considered an "average" climb, or should I look for something easier to start with? What are some other good climbs that start near that area? FYI, I'll only be doing two road rides while I'm there.
My next question is about equipment. I mentioned either shipping my bike with standard gearing or trying to rent a compact. I'd be more comfortable on my own bike and I'd have my Powertap to help pace myself, but I'm worried about the 39 tooth chainring. Are standard cranks too much for intermediate cyclists on the types of climbs I'm looking for? Are there any shops that rent decent road bikes around Littleton? I called a couple of places and didn't get anywhere.
Thanks in advance!