The Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb is a mouth full to say, but what an amazing ride. Starting in Idaho Springs and climbing all the way up over 14,000ft to the summit of Mount Evans, this hill climb takes riders up the highest paved road in North America. There are two races, a Gran Fondo, and a normal race. Jessica and I chose the Gran Fondo for a couple reasons. We really just wanted the opportunity to partake in this epic ride without having to worry about traffic on the skinny roads towards the top. We also got a jersey, or at least I did as Jessica found out they only had men’s sizes.
Jessica and I arrived in Idaho Springs before the race. I thought parking was going to be a nightmare so I guided her to a spot near the baseball fields just outside of town. There was only one other car parked there, clearly parking wasn’t the issue I thought it would be. We had to ride about two miles to get to the headquarters at the Tommyknocker Brewery. The actual start was just on the other side of the highway. Jessica and I rode over and dropped off our bags at the bag drop. It was nice we could get a jacket transported to the top for the descent.
We did a quick warm up along the road then turned around to come back to the start. We went the back way into the starting line. We crossed the timing mat and heard a beep, then there were hundreds of cyclists just staring at us. We quickly went around the side and got into the sea of cyclists.
The starting gun sounded, and we were off! Since we had never climbed to the top of Mount Evans before, we were not really sure how much effort to put in. We started passing a lot of people which felt good. The ride up to Echo Lake, which is about the half way point was rather easy. The last time we did this ride was two weeks prior as the last climb of the Double Triple Bypass. That time it did not feel easy!
Jessica and I were chatting having a good time, doing the work to get to the top. But behind us there were a couple of people that were just riding our asses. I could see one guys shadow and the other had a green jersey on. I wasn’t crazy about them right there for so long. We got to a group of slow ridders and I had to step on it to get around them. I figured this would be a great opportunity to drop these leeches. I sprinted around the group and then got back into my normal climbing pace. Jessica came around and joined me, but so did the followers! I couldn’t believe it!
Just passed Echo Lake is the entrance to Mount Evans. As you turned in there was a water stop with volunteers handing out water bottles. Luckily we were good and didn’t need to grab any. As we continued, the road quickly started to deteriorate. It’s not the worst road for climbing, but I could tell the descent was not going to be fun.
While it was mostly a climb, there were a few small sections of road that were downhill. These came as a welcome relief, but the conditions were so poor you really had to watch yourself. Finally through these sections we were able to drop our followers.
We continued towards the top and continued passing more and more people. The only people that would pass us were the races who would zip by breathing heavily. I was really impressed with what they were doing. I was happy hanging in at a comfortable pace.
Eventually we got to a sign that said 1k to go! It was all switch back and you could see the peak. Back and forth we were getting ever closer to the summit. I realized that I still had a lot of reserve left, I could have gone harder. But I was happy I paced myself as I didn’t know what to expect, especially at 14,000 feet.
And there it was, the finish line! We crossed and it was pretty anti climatic! But there were a ton of cyclists at the top and a few snacks and water. We also had to take our picture next to the summit sign! Thee was also a Primal photo booth. It’s a good thing we went up to check it out because that’s were we got our medals. And we defiantly earned them!
After a short time at the summit, we decided to head back down. As we approached the finish line to start we were stopped by a family of mountain goats. It was quite a site. Once we got past them we took are time getting down from Mount Evans. It was a bumpy ride down! Once we got back onto the main road by Echo Lake it was smooth sailing to Idaho Springs. I was surprised it took us an hour to get down.
When we got to Idaho Springs we saw Jessica’s family cheering us on. We met them across the street at TommyKnockers, where I got my free beer! It was a blood orange IPA and it was delicious! They had results posted, and we went over to check them out. I came in 24th in my age group and Jessica came in 1st in hers! Then we went over to Beau Jo’s Pizza to replenish ourselves and celebrate.