Sunday, July 10th: Triple Bypass – Day 2

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Luke saw everyone do their part on Saturday and heard all the cheers and gripes from everyone. Now it was Luke’s turn to experience the Triple Bypass.

And at 5am Sunday morning, Dave dropped Luke off at the Avon start. It was still dark and the crowds were significantly less than Saturday. A majority of the riders here were  doing the “Double Triple Bypass” meaning that they rode 120 miles yesterday and now doing it all over again. Still, it felt good for Luke to pass many riders and make great time on the 27 mile climb to Vail Pass. After fueling up at the rest stop on top of Vail, it was finally time for Luke to cruise downhill.

The next significant challenge of the ride starts at the bottom of Loveland pass at mile 50. It’s 10 miles to the top and even though the average may say 5%, it feels way more than that. This is the pass that made Dave grumble earlier in the trip and he said several times he was happy to never do it again! Despite the terribleness of this section, Luke managed to get up and over it with only one break. This was a huge victory! Lunch was at the next stop!

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Dave, Alex, Trisha, and Wes were all at the lunch break waiting. It was a great morale boost to see everyone and know that the ride was officially halfway complete! Apparently there was a surprise that everyone was trying to get Luke to see and he missed it. Then Trisha just pointed it out. “Luke, look what Dave is wearing!” Luke responded “What? He is wearing is the Triple Bypass Jersey…and…all of his riding gear…wait what! Dave, are you riding!?” And Dave replied “Heck ya! I get to ride 30 miles downhill and only have to climb up once. Plus we get to ride together! Seems like a win-win.” Luke was stoked!! After some lunch, Dave and Luke said goodbye and were off. It was reassuring to know that Alex and Trisha would be our cheering/picture-taking crew for the rest of the ride too!

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Now that Dave was riding, Luke knew he could crush the rest of the ride. And with Dave as a windshield and somewhat fresh legs, the next 30 miles of downhill flew by. The aid station at Idaho Springs came quick…so quick in fact that Dave and Luke collided trying to get in! No major injuries but Luke got a few scrapes from falling over.

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At mile 90, the 15 mile climb to Juniper Pass began. Everything feels different at mile 90. Random pain comes in and out and for some reason, Luke’s pain throbbed from his feet. This could be due to the crazy 90° heat that is uncommon for these climbs. And it made Luke feel better because this must be a thing for others too. Someone was riding up the pass with no shoes!

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Dave kept pace for Luke and offered encouragement along the way like “Luke come on you can ride faster than that!” or “Luke that guy is going to pass us and I don’t want him to pass me so hurry up!” Surprisingly, this worked well! Alex and Trisha also were hanging out and waiting for us along the way. Their encouragement was the more typical “you can do it, you’re doing great!” Before long, Luke and Dave made it to the top of Juniper and Luke was so pumped that he rode on right past the final aid station saying to Dave “Its all downhill from here, why do we need to stop!?”

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Around 3pm, Luke and Dave made it to the finish! Kevin and Sam were there too! After celebratory pictures, Luke had to take care of the most interesting pain that recently developed…his eyes. The sweat and wind dried out Luke’s contacts so bad that he could hardly see. Thinking wasn’t right after all the miles and he unwisely used hand sanitizer to clean his hands and then took the contacts out. Although the contacts were out, Luke’s eyes were so messed up from alcohol and dirt that he could still hardly see. Trisha got some wet paper towels and helped out Luke to make it better. Everyone got some food and drinks, and then we were on our way back to the cabin for new adventures.

— Guest Blogger Luke

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Saturday, July 9th: Triple Bypass – Day 1

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The Triple Bypass… 120 miles, 3 mountain passes, 10,000 feet of elev
ation gain.   That’s what we had in store for us.  Alex, Dave, Trisha, Mark and James would ride from Evergreen to Avon on Saturday, Dave and Luke would ride from Avon to Evergreen on Sunday.  Yes, you read that right, Dave is riding both days.  That’s called the “Double Triple Bypass” and its for the REALLY crazy people.

TripleBypass2016Saturday-001Alex, Dave, and Trisha woke at 3:30AM, ate PB&J on bagels, bananas, and drank some coffee.   It’s a terrible time of day to be awake, hopefully the coffee would soak in soon.  Sam was the kind soul that would also wake up at this terrible hour to drive us to the start of the ride in Bergen Park.  We left the house shortly after 4:15 AM.  In the parking lot of a gas station, we readied our bikes and ourselves.  By 5AM, Dave had already headed towards the start line to find Mark and James, and Alex and Trisha followed soon after.  Alex and Trisha ran in to Dave and Mark at the start, and they were all off….

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Alex’s Story:

Alex made her way up the 16 miles to Juniper Pass in the pre-dawn light feeling pretty good.  Her breathing was on target and she kept up a conversation with a retired school teacher for the first few miles before he dropped back to shed some layers.  She was amazed and how quickly it felt like she found herself at the top of the pass, which was the first aid station.   The number of people riding provided a constant distraction, especially when peddling past “Team Bad Boy” with their bikes toting a grill, mini-bar, and cooler.

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Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/Team-Bad-Boy-1464950960487800/

She pulled in to the bustling aid station, stashed her bike in one racks before walking off to find food.  A few steps away from the bike racks she stopped and turned to make a mental note of where her bike actually was.  There were ALOT of bikes and racks…It would be quite embarrassing if she couldn’t find her bike later…

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After eating some bagel with cream cheese, banana, orange slices, and stashing her pockets with some trail mix and Clif Bars, she went off to refill her water, lather up with some sunscreen, and hit the amazingly clean port-a-potties before beginning her descent to Idaho Springs.   Alex made he way along the descent with the cold, crisp air blowing in her face making her glad she had her riding jacket on and zipped up.  She is not an exceptionally fast downhill rider, but was amazed at how many people she was passing at her pace.

After about 16 miles of winding downhill, she found herself on the streets of Idaho Springs surrounded by cheering supporters.  She pulled off to the side to quickly remove her jacket and stash it in her pack before continuing on in the now warmer air.  The next section, 24 miles to the lunch stop aid station at Loveland Basin, followed by 4 miles to the summit of Loveland Pass is said the be the most mentally and physically challenging segment of the course.  By the time you reach the top of Loveland Pass, you are only done 50% of the mileage, but with two passes and a lot of elevation behind you it is looked at as being 80% of the effort.   Despite how good Alex had been feeling, somewhere between Idaho Springs and the Easter Seals Camp aid station outside of Georgetown, she started to bonk.  By the time she rolled into the aid station she was feeling pretty crumby and not sure what she really needed.  She grabbed some food, filled her water, and hid out in the shade of the truck that supplied water to the riders.  She ate some PB&J, drank some electrolytes, and tried to get cool.   Still not feeling great, she grabbed a banana and filled one of her jersey pockets with salty pretzel nuggets before retreating to the shade once again.   Not sure how long she had spent at the aid station, but knowing if was way to long, she eventually got back on her bike with the goal in mind of getting to Loveland Basin for lunch.  So far she was doing ok with time, hitting the aid stations right in the middle of their “open hours.”

She was now in familiar territory again, having rode from Georgetown to Loveland Basin on her first training ride in Colorado two weeks earlier.  However, she forgot how much of the ride was in the blaring sun.  In her mind she would be on the shaded bike path section much sooner.  She tried to eat more pretzels and chews as she road, hoping to bring her energy level back.  Not that she enjoyed seeing other people suffer, but it was reassuring to see many other riders pulling off to the side of the road to take breaks.  It made he feel less alone in her struggle.   She wondered how the rest of her friends were doing.

Finally, on the bike path, she knew she was getting closer to Loveland Basin.  She HAD to get there.   Why was this such a struggle??  Stopping to go to the bathroom she checked her phone to see that Dave had already been to lunch and it sounded like he had been pretty tired when he got there, but the sandwiches and chips had revived him.  Luke sent words of encouragement through their group chat, and he had actually been able to find Trisha at the lunch stop.

Luke was getting ready to leave the lunch stop when Alex arrived, and sent a message asking if she needed to throw anything in his car, she half-joking responded with “maybe me.”   She stashed her bike  in the racks, and wandered to the food tents to grab a sandwich.  All she saw on the chip table was jalapeño chips, which normally would be great, but she didn’t think that would sit well in her stomach on this ride.

She found a seat at a table under the tent, and suddenly she just wanted to cry.   She wanted to quit, but didn’t want to all at the same time.  Why was this so hard? Why was she being such a pansy? Pansy… you’re not a pansy… this ride is BRUTAL!  Why didn’t she ride her bike more before the start of summer?   Who’s idea was this???  She was glad she still had her sun glasses so no one could see her tear welled eyes ready to overflow.  She looked around at so many other riders sitting eating lunch with their significant others, and wished Dave was there.  Suddenly she realized Luke was calling her phone, she answered, trying to sound cheerful instead of destroyed.  She must not have fooled him because he showed up in the tent a few minutes later with Wes, after finding out that they could not actually drive over Loveland Pass.  Luke again offered encouragement and took a few items Alex no longer wanted, such as her arm warmers, before he and Wes headed off towards Avon and the finish line.  Alex slowly finished her sandwich,  before heading over to have a bike mechanic take a look at why her brakes were making noise on the downhill.  Turns out there was a small piece of metal stuck in her rim, easy fix.

As she made her way back to the road with her bike, she heard the announcement that Loveland Pass would be reopening to traffic in 15 minutes.   That meant it was 1:45.  Ugh… cars AND four miles up Loveland Pass.  Just make it to the top of the pass… that all you need to do…. 4 more miles….  She scoffed at a sign near the road that said “Ride is style to the top of Loveland Pass in a courtesy vehicle provided by…”   She was getting to the top of that pass on her own legs one way or the other.  There was no way she was taking a ride.

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Slowly but surely she made her way up the 11,990 foot pass.  Occasionally, stopping or walking with other riders, making deals to make it to designated rocks or signs before they stopped next.  Halfway up the pass was a photographer.  Other riders words echoed her thoughts… “You are taking my picture NOW?”  Finally, the top of the pass came into view… and it was glorious.  After taking her turn at the Loveland Pass sign, she pulled on here riding jacket and made her way down the mountain towards Keystone.  Just ride into town, and you can stop there she told herself.  After all, a few days ago she said she would be happy if she just made it to Loveland Pass.   The buildings and heat returned as she made her way into Keystone.  As she pulled off the road to remove her jacket, she convinced herself just to make it to the base of Swan Mountain.   She wasn’t sure what exactly Swan Mountain was… but it was up-hill and she wanted no more of that.  As she made her way towards Swan, she convinced herself to just make it over Swan Mountain.  Slowly but surely she found herself and other riders stopped and staring at a sign that said “1 mile to top.”  Only one more mile, then it will be cruiser down to the aid station near Frisco.  Maybe I can Make it over Vail Pass…. Not wanting to let herself talk herself into continuing beyond Frisco, she sent the group chat a message saying she was toast and thought she was going to call it quits a the aid station.   How do I get to Avon?  Kevin said he and Sam could pick her up in an hour and a half, but in her exhaustion this didn’t really register as a ridiculous amount of driving around for her friends as it should have.  The volunteers at the aid station told her she could get SAG’ed to Vail Pass, and then either ride down from their or get another SAG ride to the finish in Avon.

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It was a mental struggle, she knew riding up Vail Pass wasn’t that bad, she had done it before… but now she was exhausted.  She wasn’t sure if she could accept riding down after taking a ride to the top, that just seemed wrong.  Dave told her the ride into Avon was pretty brutal after a long day and she should just take the SAG and not push herself since she was already feeling pretty beat up.   It probably was a bad idea to continue riding seeing as she wanted to close her eyes and fall asleep coming down from Swan Mountain.  With another rider, she waited for a support vehicle to take them to Vail Pass, where another vehicle brought her to the finish in Avon and all her friends.  The whole crew enjoyed cold drinks and delicious food, happy with their accomplishments.  Luke would have his turn at the ride tomorrow, though in the reverse direction.  Dave was supposed to ride the next day as well, as a “Double Triple Bypass Rider,” but he decided the ride was brutal, he was destroyed, and there was no way he was getting back on his bike the next day.  He even exchanged his “Double” jersey for a regular one.

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After enjoying a delicious meal at the finish line, Alex, Dave, Trisha and Luke headed to their rental in Avon to shower and relax for the evening.  Annette had made an essential oil blend for Dave to add to a bath with Epsom salts to help soothe his sore and tired muscles before his ride the next day.  Even though he had decided he wasn’t riding, he was still going to enjoy a relaxing bath!

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Wednesday – Friday, July 6th – 8th: Rest Days

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With the Triple Bypass coming up on Saturday for Alex, Dave, and Trisha, and then on Sunday for Luke and Dave (Dave is riding the “Double Triple Bypass), we wanted to keep our activity levels fairly low. 

Sam had seen an area called “Dinosaur Ridge” she wanted to check out, so we headed there on Wednesday after a relaxing and lazy morning.  Poor Luke was stuck working from home once again!

We decided to make a detour to see if we could get in to see Red Rocks, and once again we were unlucky… a concert was getting set up.  We did learn, though, that we could get in before noon on days when there were concerts!

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At Dinosaur Ridge, we got info about the free self-guided tour that followed a paved road through a ridge line that contained fossils, foot prints, and other artifacts from the age of the dinosaurs.  Part way through our walk, Dave saw a trail that headed up the mountain.  Of course Dave wanted to follow it, so Kevin joined him while the girls continued on with Wes.  Sadly for Dave and Kevin, they missed out on seeing the dinosaur footprints, as well as ice cream sandwiches at the other end of the trail.   Alex, Sam, Trisha, and Wes made their way back towards the car, where the Dave and Kevin waited with no water, keys, or food, and only one cell phone between the two of them.

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Dino Tracks!
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Thursday was spent in Denver.  Alex and Dave road a few laps around Washington Park on their bikes.  They wanted to stretch their riding legs, but not have to deal with any steep grades, so this was the perfect place…. ZERO elevation gain on their 10 mile ride.  While Alex and Dave road, Kevin and Sam walked around the park.  After leaving the park, they met up with Luke, Trisha, and Wes at REI.  Some how 2 hours, and too much money disappeared in that store. 

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Now hungry from their shopping adventures, they headed to Jagged Mountain on recommendation from their friend Mike, and enjoyed delicious food from the Wong Way Veg food-truck.   After dinner, they had tickets to see the Rockies play the Phillies.

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Friday, the whole group headed to Golden, for a tour of Coors Brewery, followed by all-you-can-eat pizza, salad bar, and soup at Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza.  Their friend Doug stalked them via the internet, and seeing they were in Golden, told them about Woody’s.  After filling their stomach’s with the first round of pre-Triple Bypass carb-loading, they heading home to make a delicious meal of chicken parmesan, pasta, and garlic bread.  Annette, Mark, and James were staying in Evergreen that evening, so we asked them to join us for dinner.  After dinner, Luke got a hankering for some ice cream, so he headed to the grocery store to pick some up for the group, while final packing and preparations were made for the big ride the next morning.

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Tuesday, July 5th: Mt. Evans Ride

Tuesday was the day that Mt. Evans was to be conquered.  The route would take them 27 miles, up nearly 7,000 feet of elevation gain, to an elevation of 14,130 feet at the top of Mt. Evans. Dave had been talking back and forth with Mark about this ride even before we all arrived in Colorado.  So at 8:00AM, Dave, Luke, and Alex met Mark, James, and Annette at a parking lot in Idaho Springs.   Our friends had a house rented in Buena Vista, so they had a much earlier start to the day since they to to drive two hours to meet us.

Mark is the reason we wound up getting into road biking.  Almost three years ago, when Alex and Dave were visiting with her former co-worker, Annette, and her husband Mark, somehow the question of wanting to go biking came up.  Alex and Dave had ridden her brother and sister-in-laws road bikes during summers when visiting them in Madison, WI, but nothing more than casual rides.  Alex and Dave didn’t even own road bikes, and at that point they only had one mountain bike between the two of them.  Dave bit on Mark’s offer and planned to ride a Bestwick Ride with Mark that fall. 

We arrived in State College on a Friday evening, and on Saturday Dave and Mark headed out for a 30-mile training ride over the Bellefonte side of Purdue Mountain to get Dave acquainted with Mark’s second road bike.  Dave brought his clip in mountain bike shoes along, and Mark asked “Do you really want use clips on your first ride?  A lot of people fall…”  and of course Dave still wanted to wear them and had no problems adjusting.  Dave was pretty excited about his first ride and climbing up mountains on a road bike.  The Bestwick ride the next day should have been a metric century (about 62 miles), but due to a wrong turn or two they wound up clocking 83 miles.  OOPS!  Dave was exhausted and STOKED!  He was hooked.  Alex took a bit longer to get into road biking… cars scared her.

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Now nearly three years later, they were getting ready to ride up the highest paved road in North America.

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Alex and Annette would follow the guys along the route providing support if and when needed, as well as taking pictures.  Alex had been contemplating whether or not she was going to ride Evans since the idea first came up a few months ago, but now sitting in the car, driving up the narrow road, with lots of cars, steep drop offs and crazy wind (at points their bikes were barely moving), she was very happy with the choice she made.  She was even more happy with her choice when she saw, and felt, the road near Summit Lake with its bike eating potholes and gaps in the road.  Mark said he could have lost his bike in one of them…. He couldn’t see the bottom.

 

 

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Another hazard of the road was goats.  Yes, goats!  Towards the top of the mountain, goats became a frequent site, eating small pants along the switchbacks, and meandering along the road.  At his first sighting of one, Dave actually stopped to take a picture.  As he tried to take out his phone, his credit card fell to the ground a blew down the road a bit.  At this point he saw Mark making his descent, and asked him if he thought Alex and Annette got pictures of the goats.  When Mark told him they did, Dave shoved his phone back in his pack, retrieved his credit card from the road, and continued up to the summit.  Alex particularly enjoyed watching a goat turn its head to follow Mark as he road around one of the switchbacks to the summit.

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The day went incredibly well, with the weather holding out and the guys doing absolutely awesome.  They all made it to the top and enjoyed the glory of a picture with the summit sign, despite the fact that the wind was trying to blow their bikes away.  It was a brutal ride for sure and they were all very glad to have it completed.  Now there was only the descent.

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The descent would prove to be more tiring than normal as they made their way down from the summit due to the rough road conditions.  James, who happens to come from Texas, with its lack of big mountains, chose to hop in the car and ride down, like many of the Colorado locals said they do when they ride this mountain. After riding down, group decided James was the smart one.  The whole crew reconvened near Echo Lake, before continuing down the last 13 miles to the cars.  Dave and Luke particularly enjoyed drafting Mark and following his expert lines down the sharp curves and turns on excellent road.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.25.00 AM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.25.19 AMOnce the bikes and people were loaded in and on the cars, we all headed into Idaho Springs for a late lunch at Azteca, a Mexican restaurant.  Despite a few mixups with our orders, the food was quite good.  We headed out that day with plans to meet again on Friday for a pasta dinner in preparation for the Triple Bypass on Saturday. 

It was about 5:00 when we finally made it back to Evergreen, and spent a lazy evening relaxing.  Dave might have been a little bit tired from his ride today and the 63 mile ride of Vail the day before… he fell asleep and 7:00PM and did not wake up until 5:30 the next morning when his phone that had been forgotten in the living room began playing “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.  Apparently the previous days alarm was still set!

Monday, July 4th: Vail Pass

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Alex, Dave and Trisha headed to Frisco on Monday morning to ride over Vail Pass to Vail and back. The route would be the last pass of the Triple Bypass Ride on Saturday, and the backside of the pass would be the first pass of the Sunday ride. Alex had apparently had too much water and coffee before getting in the car and could not make it all the way to Frisco with a bathroom break. Dave knows that Alex does not joke about needing to stop, so despite the fact that they were 10 minutes from their destination, Dave pulled into a gas station. Trisha was relieved that Alex did not relieve herself in the car, even with the extra absorbency of her riding shorts.

After finding their parking lot, and setting up their bikes, Dave headed of first, and Trisha and Alex started soon after. Alex looked back to see Trisha struggling. This was weird. Trisha was huffing, puffing, sweating, and looking like the was having a rough time… and the trail was pretty flat at this point. Alex stopped, waited for Trisha to catch up and asked her how she was doing. Obviously, not well. Trisha said she wasn’t sure what was wrong, but she felt like she was working too hard and couldn’t catch her breath. Alex asked her what her heart rate was, and Trisha told her it was high. Alex asked her how high, and Trisha told her 180 bpm. WOAH! Alex was reading 125 bpm. Alex was concerned… they were on a flat bike path! If it would have been a few days earlier, Alex would have assumed she was feeling the effects of altitude. After some discussion of Alex going on and Trisha seeing if she started to feel any better or heading back to the car, Trisha realized what the problem was. Her front brake was rubbing against her front tire! Once adjusted, Trisha was feeling amazingly better and was quickly pulling ahead of Alex down the trail.

The ride was quite beautiful, and followed trails for a majority of the way to the summit of the pass. Despite the fact that the mileage was as she expected, Alex was in disbelief that she was at the pass. She asked Trisha if the were at the pass, and she said they were. She still felt it was too easy compared to everything else they did, and asked another biker if they were really at the top of the pass. They indeed were.

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They took a few minutes to eat their PB&J’s and use the bathroom before beginning the descent down to Vail. As the road the downhill they were both thinking about how they were not looking forward to riding back up the pass. Their end goal was to ride to the western edge of Vail to a Conoco station. After following a path that turned into bike lanes in neighborhoods, they found themselves at The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens… NOT the Betty Ford Clinic… surrounded by crowds of people dressed in their finest 4th of July attire. They checked their maps and decided they were about 3 miles shy of the Conoco station. The remaining miles would take them through more of the flat yuppy town terrain they had already had their fill of, and decided they were both perfectly happy with turning around here.

They made their way back towards the pass, huffing and puffing through some steep sections, hating the heat of the sun, and looking forward to being at the top once again. Happily back to the top of the pass, they sent messages to the rest of the group, mauled some food, and read the sad news that there was no “Taco Monday” at the Mexican restaurant back in Evergreen. They were very glad that they did not know this earlier in the day, since they had been looking forward to it for days. However, Kevin, Sam and Luke said they would have home made burritos waiting for them when they got home. They made their way down the winding trails back Frisco where Dave was waiting for them. They were thrilled to see him laying on a park bench next to the trail… AND he had food! Delicious food! Dave had finished his ride, changed out of his biking clothes, and gotten sandwiches from a restaurant in town. Alex and Trisha sat on the bench devouring their sandwiches, telling Dave about their day and laughing about the ridiculous things that occurred through the day such as the brake incident that started the day, and how Trisha would hold a sandwich bag of pretzels to her face making hilarious eating noises.

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As the girls finished their sandwiches, Dave loaded their bikes on the car to speed up the process of getting home where all the ingredients for a delicious meal were waiting.

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Sunday, July 3rd: Climbing at East Colfax

img_20160703_094624411_27458945594_oDave and Alex wanted to get out climbing, and suggested that if everyone wanted to go the area they had climbed at the other day would be a good location.   There were still some routes for them to get on, and the approach would be an easy one for Trisha and Luke to bring Wes.

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The whole group joined in and it was a fantastic day of climbing.  We may have started the day on a 5.10, instead of an easier warm-up…. but its not like that has never happened before!  We spent several hours at the crag, until everyone was sufficiently tired, and then headed back to Evergreen.  Trisha was hungry, maybe on the verge of hangry, and took the initiative to order and pick-up pizzas for dinner.  We rounded out the evening with a long walk around Evergreen Lake, with a stop for ice cream when we popped into town.  The ice cream was definitely not as good as we had the previous day…. but ice cream is still ice cream!

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Is this one too big?
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Bad, blinded by the sun selfie attempt!

Saturday, July 2nd: Rest Day

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We woke to weather forecasts that had deteriorated for riding Vail Pass, so we declared it a rest day and headed to Golden.  We planned to do a tour of the Coors Brewery, but forgot it was a holiday weekend and decided we would rather not stand in line waiting two hours to get in.  Instead we would head to the Golden Farmer’s Market.  We were quite hungry by the time we got the the farmer’s market, and quickly found the food area and fantastic tacos from “Go West Tacos.”

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While we sat at a table under an umbrella, Luke decided that he should run up Mt. Zion, a nearby mountain with a white “M” on it for the Colorado School of Mines.  He said something along the lines of “I can run up there in 10 minutes!”  But after some consideration and debate with Dave and Kevin, he settled on 25 minutes.  He was given a buffer of 2 minutes to make sure Trisha was was ok with the crazy idea, and then ran off towards the mountain.

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Our view of the “M”

After 37 minutes, jumping over fences and crossing a highway, he had reached his goal.  Luke called us on his cell phone to let us know he was there.  He was super psyched, and insistent that we HAD to be able to see him.  We repeatedly told him we definitely could not see him, that the cars on the road near him were tiny from our location.  He told us he was going to be much slower on his way down, so we started walking towards the American Mountaineering Museum just down the street and told him to meet us there.

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Getting closer…
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Luke’s View

The museum was not huge, but had a lot of interesting exhibits.  We wandered around checking everything out until Luke showed up. 

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As we headed back to the car, someone in the group noticed an ice cream shop, and before long we were all inside Golden Sweets getting cones of delicious ice cream for the walk back to the car.  On the drive home, we made a quick stop at Red Rocks.  Red Rocks is an outdoor amphitheater naturally created by rock formations.  Unfortunately, we were unable to wander around very much because of a concert that was getting set up for that evening.

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Thursday, June 30th – Friday, July 1st – Juniper Pass 2.0 and Elk Meadow Hike

A quick check of the weather Thursday morning showed a good window for Dave, Alex, and Trisha to ride to Juniper Pass again.  So we ate some breakfast, packed up gear, and headed to Bergen Park.  Trisha was hoping that the adjustments to her bike the previous day would allow her to feel better and make it to the top of the pass.  The adjustments definitely did, she rocked the ride and even went above and beyond…. without realizing it.  Within the first few miles Alex lost sight of Trisha, before she could point out the elk on the side of the road.  Dave was the first one back to the car, seeing Trisha first and then Alex about a mile behind.  Once back at the car, he headed to the nearby lake to wait for the girls.  When Alex arrived at Juniper Pass, she was surprised that she had not seen Trisha descending, or waiting at the pass.  She checked her phone, only seeing a message from Dave letting her know he was back at the car.  She sent a message back saying she had not seen Trisha, but was at Juniper.  Dave thought maybe Trisha had turned around at the camp just before the pass, and Alex thought maybe she had gone to the lookout just after the pass.   Alex waited a few minutes before zipping up her jacket and beginning her way back down to the car with the chilly air blowing against her. 

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Back at the car, both she and Dave were surprised not to see Trisha.  Since they did not have the keys to the car, and were now somewhat concerned, Dave called Luke and Sam at the house.  Sam drove down to the parking area, while Luke stayed at the house with Wes.  Alex would wait at the car, while Sam and Dave drove up towards the pass to see if Trisha had somehow gotten into a bind.  Only a few minutes later,  Alex saw Trisha riding her bike into the lot, with the car not far behind.   Turns out Trisha’s bike computer was not properly calibrated, and she was unable to tell how far she had gone, totally missed the sign for Juniper Pass, and had continued down to Echo Lake…. and down the road a bit farther.  Realizing something wasn’t right, she turned around and made her way back, waited at the Mount Evan’s Visitor’s center, thinking that it was the turn around point, and was surprised Alex had not yet shown up. 

Glad that everyone was back, and with no major problems, we made our way back to the house where we would relax for the evening.   Mike would be coming over later that evening for dinner, so we cooked up a large variety of roasted vegetables.  Mike showed up with ingredients in hand to make what turned out to be a delicious salad with homemade avocado dressing.

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The following day was scheduled to be a rest day, and with rain in the forecast, we decided to do an easy 5-mile hike at Elk Meadow Park.  Soon after beginning our hike, we ran into, Angie from the bike shop, who had adjusted Trisha’s bike and assured her that she shouldn’t be to tough on herself about biking… seeing that Wes was not even a year old!  After chatting for a bit we continued along the trail.  As we hiked, Dave was dwelling on the fact that there was a trail that would take them up the the top of Bergen Peak, and we weren’t planning on doing it.  At the last trail junction, Dave brought this up, and Alex and Sam both said they would go along to the summit. 

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For Alex, Dave and Sam, their 5-mile hike turned into an 11-mile hike.   They were happy they made the choice to go to the top, and take in the views.   They made the entire way back to the car, stopping for Alex to take pictures of flowers, without getting rained on!  That was a win!

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bergen pano sam

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Starving, as usual, they stopped at Dandelions Cafe for lunch.  They sat on the patio, thoroughly enjoying the margarita pizza they all shared, and the sandwich and salad that Alex and Dave also split.  It was a delicious meal with great service, definitely a place they would recommend!  With their hunger subsided, they ran some errands before heading back to the house.

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The remainder of the evening was spent relaxing and watching Harry Potter.  To be honest, most of us relaxed… Sam was too anxious about Kevin flying in that night to settle completely.  At one point Dave made a comment about an internet server crashing, and Sam yelled at him for joking about Kevin’s plane crashing.  Later that evening, Sam headed to Denver to pick up Kevin, while the rest of the group prepared biking gear for the morning’s ride of Vail Pass before they headed to bed.

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Tuesday, June 28th – Wednesday, June 29th: Biking and Climbing

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 9.31.24 AMTuesday morning, Alex, Dave and Trisha headed to Bergen Park to begin their Squaw Pass ride.  The route would be 37 miles from the parking area over the pass, down to the Mt. Evan’s Visitor’s Center and back to the start.  After prepping our bikes Dave was off first, and soon after Alex and Trisha were on their way. 

A few miles up the road, Alex slowed, then unclipped and stopped her bike to allow an elk to cross the road in front of her.  “Did you see that?!?!” she yelled back to Trish.  Yeah… of course she saw it!  Nine miles up the pass, Alex stopped, confused by the fact that she was definitely not through the ascent, but she could see a small green sign off the side of the road for “Squaw Pass Summit” with an elevation of 9,000+ feet.  This didn’t make sense… shouldn’t that be at mile 16 with an elevation of 11,000+ feet?  She decided to shrug it off and continue along the road figuring she will make sense of it sooner or later. 

At mile 15 she sees Dave making his descent.  He stopped to talk to her, told her he was feeling great and had ridden down to Echo Lake.  He explained that he realized the actual top of the climb was at Juniper Pass, NOT Squaw Pass, but if she was feeling good she should go another mile down the road to a pretty lookout.  Despite the fact that at mile 12.5 she was feeling pretty bad after eating a Gu, she was feeling better now and would do as Dave suggested. 

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Alex stopped at the view point to take some pictures before turning around to return to the top of the pass, take some pictures there, and then begin the fun descent.  Back at the car, she rejoined with Trisha who had been having knee pain on the ride, and had turned around about 12 miles up.  Rather than waiting for the girls, Dave had ridden back to the Evergreen House. 

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After showers, relaxing, and napping for some,  Alex, Dave, Sam, Trisha, and Wes headed to a find some additional plates and utensils at a thrift store.  Luke went out to do the Juniper Pass ride since he had been working earlier that day.  Turns out the Goodwill nearby was actually just a donation center, so the group decided to drive to the Arc Thrift Store in Golden.  Not only did they find plates, and an awesome set of silverware, but they also found a 36-cup percolator for $8!  This might be enough coffee for the group…

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Dave was also stoked to find a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sandwich container which he said he would use to house his snacks when we were out and about. 

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Back at the house we were finally able to cut the watermelon that we purchased a few days ago, since we now had a knife that was big enough for the task.  We also learned that Luke had survived his ride, sustained only on Mike & Ike’s.  Apparently, he forgot the food he had planned on taking, but was lucky enough to find a package of Mike & Ike’s in the car.

After breakfast and a percolator of coffee, Alex and Dave headed off to climb at The Catslab in Clear Creek Canyon.  They had chosen this area after Alex nixed Dave’s suggestion of an area that included climbing 25 feet up a tree to a Tyrollean traverse across the creek to access an area with less than stellar rock.  Did he actually think that sounded like a great idea?

Trisha was hoping to get her bike to a shop to see if she could alleviate the knee pain that plagued her the previous day.  Maybe then, the rest of the group would join Alex and Dave for some climbing.   Alex and Dave arrived at The Catslab to find it looking pretty crowded from the road, and decided to find a different area.   They wound up climbing at East Colfax.  They approach was super easy, and despite several other groups, there were open climbs.  Alex started the day deciding to lead an easy 5.4 sport route, For the Children, her first lead since they were in The Red over Thanksgiving, so she was pretty happy.  Four more routes were done: One For All (5.5), Wild Bore (5.7), Speeding Ticket (5.6), and When I’m 64 (5.6) before they headed out with storm clouds looming nearby.

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Alex and Dave headed to Denver to pick up their Triple Bypass race packets and to get Dave fingerprinted so he could update his teaching clearances.  The office they went to was AMAZINGLY fast, and they found themselves with plenty of extra time before they would be meeting the rest of their group at Lodo’s in Highland Ranch for the Triple Bypass Pre-Ride Party.  At Mike’s suggestion, we walked around Washington Park for a while.  Needing a snack before dinner, we Yelp’ed and found a small local taqueria, La Calle Taqueria and Carnitas, where we had some delicious food despite the fact the it looked less than stellar from the outside.

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Still early for dinner and needing a little pick-me-up, we stopped at 303 Coffee and had some iced dirty chai tea lattes before heading to Lodo’s.  We enjoyed sitting on the deck area of the restaurant, enjoying our free food and drinks while taking in the views of the Front Range and Denver in the distance.  On the ride home, Alex, Dave and Sam enjoyed the beautiful backroads, and even got to see a mother deer and her VERY newly born fawn in a field.  Once back at the house we prepped our biking gear to ride Juniper Pass again in the morning, as long as the weather would hold out.

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Sunday, June 26th – Monday, June 27th: Biking and Hiking

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We woke up at 5:30 AM on Sunday to organize biking gear and get some breakfast and coffee in us before heading on our first bike ride in Colorado.  Alex also spent some of this morning time attempting to get the blog started, but instead just got angry at the new computer and problems she was having getting it to work the way she wanted it to.

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We were meeting a group of riders in Georgetown, a town about 30 miles away.  The ride was a “Triple Bypass Training Ride” sponsored by Team Evergreen and Optimize Endurance Services.  The route would take us from Georgetown to Keystone by going up and over Loveland Pass, and then return to Georgetown via the same route.  The ride would cover about 55 miles and have over 6,000 feet of elevation gain.  Alex hadn’t fully committed to the ride and was actually quite nervous about riding a pass for the first time.  Luke, despite only arriving in Colorado a few hours earlier and not yet acclimated, was ready to go.  Dave was Dave… excited as always!

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After lubing our chains and testing our brakes and tire pressures, we were ready to go.  A large group of about 50 had showed up for the ride, and after a few minutes of discussion about the route we were on our way.  Soon, we were out of the town and beginning to climb towards the top of Loveland Pass.  Riding in Colorado was so different than riding at home where hills were short and steep, where here they weren’t as steep but went on fooooooreeeeeeveeeeeeeeer!  Alex, not knowing how far she had remaining to the pass, and not wanting to wreck herself on day one, turned around at 13.5 miles.  Back at the car, she realized she did not have the keys, or anything other than her biking gear, so she decided to hang out near the lake they had parked at.  Two and a half ours later, much of which was spent chasing the limited amount of shade around the car, Dave and Luke showed up.  They both had made the entire ride, and Luke totally crushed it despite all that he had working against him.  Not only did he crush the ride he also mentally pulled Dave through his struggle back up the back side of the pass.  Dave had taken it a bit to fast at the get go, and found himself alternating between biking and stopping as he made his way up the back side of Loveland Pass on the return. 

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Dave and Luke

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After making our way back to the house in Evergreen and Sam, we showered and headed towards Denver to meet Mike for dinner at great little Thai restaurant, US Thai Cafe.  Our awesome dinner was followed by awesome ice cream at Sweet Cow.  After ice cream, Alex, Dave and Sam headed back to Evergreen, while Luke headed to the airport to pick up Trisha and Wes. 

Monday morning, despite not needing to be up early, we woke around 5AM to a sunny morning.  We spent the morning relaxing and drinking coffee before the crew minus Luke headed off for a 5-mile hike on the Evergreen Trail in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park.  Luke would be working from home that day, as he would a few days each week.  The hike was a pleasant trails shared by hikers, mountain bikers, and horses.  Seeing all the mountain bikers made us wish we could bring ours along too… if only we had a Sprinter van! 

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Dave started the hike wearing Wes in his carrier, hoping to allow Trisha some time to acclimate to the altitude.  Wes enjoyed hitting sticks of Dave’s head however, before long Wes only wanted mom.  Once at the top, we stopped to have a snack, and take some pictures before making our way back down to the car.

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Back in Evergreen, we relaxed for the afternoon, before Dave and Luke made a trip to the grocery store to get some additional items for dinner.  They returned with LOTS of groceries, and chased the women from the kitchen.  They prepared a delicious meal of spaghetti and meatballs with side of garlic bread in preparation for our rides up Squaw Pass the following morning.

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