I set my alarm for 3:30am the night before the Triple Bypass. I sure as hell didn’t want to get up that early, but I knew it was going to be a long day and wanted to get started around 5am. I figured that would be my best chance to avoid any afternoon rain storms. Getting up was actually easy, I was excited about the epic ride that ahead of me. I brewed up a cup of Bulletproof Coffee to fuel my efforts and got on the road.
It was still dark outside and as I approached Evergreen, where the start was, all the cars on the road had bikes attached. It made sense what other crazy people would be out at four something in the morning. There was a lot of traffic in Evergreen and parking was at a premium. Finally I was directed to a parking spot and got ready to hit the road.
I wasn’t sure what to expect weather wise, I decided to skip all the warm weather gear and just take my rain jacket. This turned out to be a good decision.
I started at about 5:30am, it was still dark but the sun was slowly rising painting the sky a brilliant array of colors. This, set with the beautiful mountain landscape made the start a surreal experience. And that was a good thing, because we started climbing right away.
I’d only been on Highway 103 once, and it was in a car several years ago. My friend Adam and I had gone boarding at Echo Moutain, a small terrain park along that road. I’m not exactly sure what it’s become now, but we passed it and it brought back some great memories.
This first climb was hard, but I felt good and once I reached the first aid station at the top I didn’t want to waste much time. I got water, hit he restroom and got back out there. I made a major mistake at this point, I forgot to start my GPS again.
The decent was fun, lots of speed, but a lot of sharp curves. There were still a lot of other cyclists on the road and it made parts of this a little scary. The road wasn’t horrible but not in the best shape. You really had to pay attention and weave through the people. We needed up in Idaho Springs, a familiar place. There were tons of spectators cheating us on on and a giant Escalade that was in the middle of the road. It was in my way so I passed it and proceeded under I-70. This is the spot that Jessica and I start riding from, so it was a familiar course.
There were to guys from Portland that had passed me, then I passed them. After a few minutes one of the guys rode up to me and asked if I wanted to work with them. I said sure and we started a pace line. I chatted with them for a little bit. One of the guys was from Colorado originally. This was the first time he had done the Triple though. He was having a hard time wight he altitude.
We hit the second aid station, I filled my water and got back on the road. This is the spot I realized that I hadn’t started the GPS. I got it going again, cursed about the missing data, but what was I going to do?
The ride up to Loveland Pass was mostly uneventful. It was a ride I was very familiar with. The bike path to Loveland was difficult for me. I’m not sure if my legs were getting tired or it’s because Jessica told me that she though that was the hardest part of the Loveland ride. I got through it though and ended up at the Loveland ski area and the next aid station. At this point I was ahead of the the crowd as there were hardly any people there. They had lunch for us. They had a gluten free sandwich that I though I’d try. It was discussing.
I got back on the bike to climb Loveland Pass. The weather was perfect, cool, not to windy and the sun was out. It made for a great climb. I didn’t even bother to stop at the top, and just kept riding. Going down the other side was fun. I had climbed that side on Ride the Rockies, but didn’t get to go down. It was basically all downhill through Keystone. It was fun. They had closed off the road to traffic. Just before Keystone there was a Jeep that a State Trooper had told to turn around. He had some mountain bikes on the back of the Jeep. There was a cyclist in front of me ridding in the middle of the road. The Jeep came flying by almost hitting some opposing traffic and flipping of the rider in front of me. While the cyclist should have been further to the right, I couldn’t believe the guy in the Jeep, some people.
We had to climb Swan Mountain which sits between Keystone and Breckenridge. It’s not a big climb but it was some work. The road was supposed to be closed for the ride. Well I noticed a sign that it closed at 11am. It was only 10:30 when I was there so I got to deal with traffic. Just before I got to Breckenridge they finally closed the road and almost got hit by a car they made turn around.
The aid station was at Summit County High School. There was almost nobody there. I called my Mom and Dad who would be meeting me at the finish in Avon. I told them I’d probably be in closer to 1pm than 3pm like I originally thought.
From Breckenridge to Copper Mountain was all bike path. I had gone the other way on this path during Ride the Rockies. This was a nice ride, but the path was crowded with lots of families out on a Saturday bike ride. I only saw one other Triple rider on the path, I was defiantly getting to the head of the pack. When I got to Copper Moutain, there were no signs, I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go. I figured it was best to stay on the bike path. After a few minutes a guy came the other direction and signaled for me to turn around. Then I saw another rider doing the same thing as me, so I told him to turn around. We had to cross the street and ride though Copper Mountain. When I saw some people directing us I told them they needed to get a sign on the bike path because we all got lost.
The next leg was Vail Pass. I’ve never cycled Vail Pass before, so I was excited to give it a try. It was all bike path and it was beautiful. It was good challenge, especially after the other two passes. The next aid station was at the rest stop at the top of Vail Pass. My gears were slipping and acting funny, so I wanted to take advantage of the mechanic at this aid station. When I got there he was barley set up. He got my gears sorted out and even tightened my rear breaks. He said there was no charge, but I felt bad so I gave him a tip.
I hit the road and descended Vail Pass. There was a sign leaving the aid station that said “Avon Finish 28 miles”. I looked at my time, 6 hour 40 minutes. My goal was to beat 9 hours, but I really wanted to do it in less than 8. I knew if I could average 28 to Avon I could beat both of these times. I was going to ride my heart out. Going down Vail Pass was fun. It was a beautiful bike path and there were sections that were really wide. Once we got into Vail we had to ride on the frontage road and it flattened out a bit. There was no one around and I just rode and fast as I could. I pushed it, but my legs were feeling good and I wanted to get that good time.
Suddenly I heard something behind me, I looked back and there were two guys. I’m not sure how they caught me, but they did. They drafted off me for a bit then passed me. I’m glad they did because they pushed me to ride faster to try to keep up. The three of raced into Avon and to the Finish. We rode through the finish line and they gave us a medal. Official time, 7 hours 39 minutes! I was proud of that number.
There were only about 50 or so bikes in the corral, so I knew I finished at the top of the pack! That felt good. I really accomplished something. I texted Jessica a told her that we have to do the Double Triple Bypass next year (which is the ride back the next day). I don’t know if she’s as excited as me, but I know she’ll kill it and have the time of her life.
I grabbed a beer which I had been looking forward to and some food. My parents joined me and we hung out for about an hour or so, then it was back to Evergreen. Driving back we saw tons of riders still on the course through Vail. It was quite a sight. The best part is that the weather stayed dry. But in true irony, it was pouring rain from Idaho Springs to Evergreen, at least I was in the car.
Conquering the Triple Bypass is no small feat, over 120 miles from Evergreen to Avon Colorado. Three mountain passes and over 10,000 ft of elevation gain. It was a such an experience, at it seem to fly by. I defiantly am going to try to do more and more ultra events in the future.