Friday, July 15th: Grays Peak and Torreys Peak

Alex, Dave, Sam and Trisha woke at 3:30 AM, aiming to leave Evergreen at 4:00 AM and arrive at the trailhead for Grays Peak (14,278’) and Torreys Peak (14,275‘) shortly after 5:00 AM.  Grays and Torreys are two very popular and easy fourteeners that can be summited together in an 8.5 mile round trip with about 3,600 feet of elevation gain.  Sam had actually hiked Grays Peak solo the previous Sunday while the Triple Bypass was going on, but she was up for hiking it again, and this time linking it with Torreys. 

We arrived at the trailhead parking area, after a long drive up a bumpy, rough road shortly after 5:00 AM.   By 5:30, everyone had boots on, hiking poles adjusted, and used the last “real” bathroom stop (pit toilets are “real” bathrooms… right?) of the morning.  We hit the trail in the semi-dark, and Dave’s pace quickly carried him away from the girls.  He took the opportunity to hike faster and not have to worry about leaving Alex alone. 

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The girls stopped for a morning snack before the steeper section up Grays began.  Alex’s stomach didn’t feel quite right, and she attributed it to the early morning wake-up and too much gas station coffee on the way.  Surely, its not altitude sickness!

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Snack break!

The girls make it to the top of Grays and find Dave waiting there.  He had already (literally) ran up Torrey’s with a guy he met along the trail before coming to the top of Grays.  The group took some pictures before Dave headed back down the trail, looking forward to napping at the car while he waited for the girls.  Alex, Sam and Trisha headed down off Grays and across the saddle towards Torreys Peak.  As they head up the switchbacks to the summit, Trisha has gained a burst of energy and is crushing, while Alex and Sam are instead slowing down.

When all three reach the summit, they take some pictures amongst the many others on the summit, including several dogs!

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Trail to the summit of Grays Peak
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Summit of Grays Peak
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Summit of Grays Peak
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Summit of Grays Peak
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Monkey Man makes an appearance on the summit of Grays Peak

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Torreys Peak from the summit of Grays Peak
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Summit of Torreys Peak
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Grays Peak from the Summit of Torreys Peak

The girls happily make their way back down the trail towards the car, crossing a snow field and talus along the way.  They make many stops along the way for Alex and Trisha to pee, while Sam seems to have maintained her “teacher bladder” even during the summer.  Alex later attributes the excessive pee to a lack of salt that day, and a good excuse to request salty snacks on their hikes.

By 11:30, they were back at the car where Dave was waiting for them.  They arrived to find Dave talking to a guy who had been traveling all summer as well.  Unfortunately for Dave, the guy was quite the talker and he was never able to break away to get his nap.  After everyone exchanged their hiking boots for flip-flops, they made there way back towards Evergreen where breakfast sandwiches should be awaiting them!

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Once back in Evergreen, the sandwiches were devoured and Alex went to take a nap, now positive that it was the altitude that made he feel sub-par that day.  Dave received a call about a second interview for another teaching position.  He would need to get home during the last week in July when they were back in Madison with A.J., Liz and Quinn.  The question now, was how to coordinate getting home.   A.J. was off the entire week, so they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend the week with him, and the interview was scheduled right in the middle of that week.  Alex and Dave ran through many combinations of flying and/or driving before settling on flying home on Monday and renting a car to avoid a whole other coordination of getting picked up and dropped off at the airport to return to Madison on Wednesday afternoon.  Sadly, somehow they scheduled everything around an interview on Tuesday, when in fact the interview was WEDNESDAY!  After too many phone calls, price checks, comparisons and stress adding to Alex’s already altitude sick haze and headache, the correct plans were finally set!   

The pair had planned on starting to organize gear for their backpacking trip that would begin on Sunday, but after all they had already done that day, they instead napped and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Thursday, July 14th: Boulder, CO

We packed up camp Thursday morning to head to Boulder to meet Luke, Trisha and Wes at Avery Brewing Company for a tour.  We planned to get coffee and breakfast along the way.  We found small cafe along I-25 called Owl Canyon Coffee, reviews looked good so we navigated towards it.   The place was cute, coffee and chai was good, service was friendly, but the food landed somewhere between terrible and “OK” depending on who you asked.   Turns out the breakfast burritos and baked goods were made by other small shops in the area…. But then frozen.   Kevin and Sam’s burritos were still cold inside and had strangely colored ham in them, while Alex and Dave’s were warm but not the best veggies burritos they ever had.  Dave’s rating quickly declined from “Ehhh” to terrible as he reminisced on the delicious burrito from a few days early.   Alex held fast that it wasn’t the best, it wasn’t the worst, it was just “OK” despite the calls of craziness from the rest of the group.

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Once in Boulder, the group headed to Celestial Seasonings Tea for a tour.  While they waited for their tour to begin they enjoyed endless cups of a wide variety of teas.   Alex and Dave had been on this tour a few years ago, and new there friends would enjoy it as well, especially all the tea samples and the “Peppermint Room.”  Since peppermint is such a strong flavor and scent, the peppermint is stored in its own room in the facility, and standing in the room will definitely clear your sinuses!

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Still a bit early to meet their friends at Avery, the group head to The Rowdy Mermaid to get a growler filled with Kombucha, which is a fermented (but non-alcoholic) tea.  They had a small but inviting tasting room, where we each enjoyed a glass while deciding which on to fill the growler with.

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We then headed to Avery, and waited in their outside seating area for the rest of our group to arrive.  The tour wound up being pretty low on our rating scales, with not much to see from our overhead walkway or excitement from our guide.  Avery, however, did redeem itself with a delicious dinner!

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After dinner we headed back to Evergreen to get ready for our early morning wake-up call to hike two fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation).

Tuesday, July 12th – Wednesday, July 13th: Vedauwoo, WY

Alex and Dave crawled out of their comfy hotel beds early so Dave could ready himself for his interview while Alex walked over to the main building of the hotel complex to grab coffees and baked goods for breakfast. Dave donned the thrift store shirt, tie, and suit coat he had purchased in Golden a few days earlier. Notice, there was no pants mentioned here. No worries! Dave wasn’t interviewing in his underwear, he was wearing a pair of shorts… no need to buy suit pants for a video chat interview. Alex, Kevin, and Sam vacated the room and headed back over to the main hotel building to check out the gift shop and print some paperwork while Dave interviewed. They also discovered a chess board so Kevin and Sam enjoyed a round of chess while Sam learned how to play. Dave showed up after his interview, and felt like it went well. He wound up having a phone interview, so the thrift store suit wasn’t even needed!

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Dave and Kevin played a round of chess before the group checked out of the hotel and headed to Sierra Trading Post. Alex vowed that she was not going to buy anything, but before long “good deals” wound up in a shopping basket. Sierra Trading Post strikes again. Kevin found an awesome deal on sleeping pads, and Alex and Dave almost wound up buying them as well, but talked themselves out of it, concluding that they were just too heavy to take backpacking.

After making our purchases we found a Mexican restaurant, Guadalajara, for lunch. Our meals we fantastic! We were glad we had opted to order only three meals instead of four. Those three meals were too much food for the four of us… and that is an impressive feat!

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After lunch, we headed towards the pile of rocks along I-80 known as Vedauwoo once again. We wound up driving to the same area we camped earlier this summer, and set up camp. We then proceeded to lounge, relax, nap, flip through the guide book, and take pictures. Eventually, they convinced themselves to drive down to the central area and walk around. Alex knew that if she convinced Dave to do this, they would wind up climbing something, probably Edward’s Crack. And they did! Alex and Dave took a quick run up the two pitches before sunset, while Kevin and Sam hiked around and caught Pokemon.

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After the group of four reconvened in the parking area, it was time to cook up mac-n-cheese for dinner in the gazebo. As dinner was being prepared, Alex walked around to take pictures. She walked by a woman who told her she could go take a picture of a moose nearby. Alex thought the woman was crazy, she had never seen a moose in all her times in Vedauwoo. But whatever, she would walk around and see if there actually is a moose. Low and behold, there WAS a moose! She snapped a bunch of pictures and worked her way towards the gazebo trying to get the attention of her friends without scaring the moose away. Finally, Kevin heard her or saw her waving motions and came her way. By that time, the moose was close enough to the gazebo area that all of them could see it…. From safe distance of course! The moose slowly made its way through the picnic area while its paparazzi watched on. Eventually it wandered far enough away that dinner was able to resume. The group cleaned up dinner dishes and headed back to camp for the night.

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Wednesday morning, we headed to the rest area on the way to Beehive Buttress to make breakfast. We decided Beehive would be a great place to climb with Kevin and Sam, and hopefully get Sam to lead a sport climb for the first time. We cooked up dehydrated potatoes while snacking on oranges, peanuts and coffee. We had remembered to bring the french press, but had neglected to bring any coffee… oops! Fortunately, we had two backpacker coffee packs with us!

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We drove down the bumpy dirt roads to Beehive Buttress, geared up in the parking lot, and soon were standing at the base of the wall. Alex had said she would lead the first climb, a 5.6 she had lead before. When she went to look at the guide to see how many draws she needed, Dave told her to figure it out without checking the route description. His goal was to take her out of her comfort zone and make her grow as a climber, but instead he made her grow grumpy. They bickered back and forth a bit before she grabbed more draws than she knew she needed and made her way up the wall. After returning to the ground, Kevin and Sam climbed the route while she and Dave moved to the next climb, Monkey and the Engineer, another 5.6. After Dave took his turn on the route, the two retreated to the shade of the aspen trees on the right side of the formation. The pair climber a fun arete that Dave lead, Walking the Boards (5.10a). Alex and Dave lead Rip Chords (5.6), and decide this would be a great climb for Sam to lead. Kevin lead the climb while Sam contemplated what she would do. She was tentative at first, understandably nervous to take the sharp end for the first time. She climbed it on top-rope twice, gaining confidence before she did a great job on her first lead! The group also climbed Gypsie Fire (5.6), before Alien Dave (5.10a) caught Dave’s attention. Dave lead the awesomely fun climb up a black water streak, through overhanging sections that was reminiscent of climbing in The Red. Alex followed the route and found it jus as enjoyable. The group headed back to the car, and made there way to the rest area once again to enjoy a late lunch of cheese, hummus, and pepperoni pitas before returning to their camping area for the evening. As bedtime approached, Alex and Dave climbed a top a few boulders to enjoy the setting sun and take pictures.

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Monday, July 11th: Fort Collins (and Dave’s Birthday!)

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Months ago, Alex and Dave scheduled the group a tour of New Belgium Brewery for this day, which also happens to be Dave’s birthday.  We have heard fantastic things about the tour, but had never been on one before because we always made the mistake of forgetting to make  reservation before the start of summer… the tours fill up fast!

We had scheduled the tour for 4:30 PM, not knowing how quickly everyone would want to get moving after the Triple Bypass.  We also scheduled a tour at O’Dells for around lunchtime that day.   However, we woke up to find everyone feeling pretty good after the Triple, and headed off to Fort Collins a little early.

We made a stop to grab some breakfast burritos at Snooze.  These were by far the best breakfast burritos…. maybe ever! Trisha had been starving when she, Luke and Wes made a pit stop at a McDonald’s to use the restroom. She wound up purchasing some sub-par burritos…. So sad when this was so close. Fortunately, they were still able to enjoy an amazing burrito at Snooze!

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We made our way to O’Dell’s for our first tour of the day. Alex and Dave had toured O’Dell’s a few years ago, but the brewery had grown since, and the tour now included a larger area than it previously had. After the tour, we relaxed at a picnic table in the shade while Kevin, Sam and Trisha searched for Pokemon on the grounds. Dave had downloaded the game and quickly deleted it earlier in the day. Alex was holding even stronger, not wanting to cave to the addiction she knew would ensue.

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The group decided to head downtown in Fort Collins and walk around for a while checking out the stores and shops. After parking, the group was in search of a coffee shop, but instead found themselves at Nuance Chocolate enjoying flights of chocolate and the most decadent iced sipping chocolate we had ever tasted.

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Eventually, it was time to head to New Belgium for our tour. The tour was everything we could have hoped for. The tour guide was one of the brewers, was super informative and genuinely excited to show us the facility. The building contained lot of displays and art work keeping the transitions between areas interesting. The tour also lasted a whopping 1.5 hours! That time however, flew by!

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After the tour concluded, we were all starving are ready for dinner. Alex found a place called “The Colorado Room” on Yelp, and we hoofed it the “short” one mile. One mile seemed reasonable until we felt like we were on a never ending march for food. Luckily, the food wound up being good and Alex did not have to face the wrath of dissatisfied friends. We each enjoyed a variety of slider sandwiches and poutine before heading back to our cars. Alex, Dave, Kevin and Sam were heading to a Little America Hotel in Cheyenne that evening, while Luke, Trisha, and Wes headed back to the house in Evergreen. Dave had a job interview scheduled for the next morning, so we were staying at a hotel that evening before spending the next couple days in Vedauwoo, WY, camping and climbing.

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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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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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Bad, blinded by the sun selfie attempt!