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.
Alex, 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….
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!