Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Own. Personal. Triple

OK y'all. It's been awhile since my last post. Briancon left a deep impression, rendering subsequent rides totally unimpressive. Until Monday.

About six months ago, my good buddy Todd was exhorting the sweet suffering of the Triple Bypass. He had done it a number of times, and wanted to do it again. Obviously I said no.

Then another of my buddies, Mark, said why not? Then my other buddy named Marc said, "sounds great!" The pressure was mounting.*

OK. Let me disclose to you the reasons for my initial negative response.

TOP 5 Reasons NOT to do the Triple:
1. In the immortal words of Michelle Ferrrari, "I am too fat"
2. 11,000 feet y'all
3. Colorado altitude. Loveland Pass is like 12,000 feet. at that altitude, there ain't no air. I like to breathe. It's one of my favorite things. Top 5 for sure.
4. I don't need another kit. Seriously.
5. I likes my beer. And wine. And various cheeses. And salami. And pizza. [See #1]

So I said I was in.

What is a Triple?
The Triple Bypass Bicycle Ride is recognized as one of the premier cycling events in the nation. A one or two-day cycling event, celebrating its 29th year, the Triple Bypass takes you on a gorgeous tour through the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. For those that choose the 2 day, I have equal parts scorn and respect. The one day version starts in Evergreen (a suburb of Denver) and ends in Avon (just west of swanky-ass Vail).  To get from Evergreen to Avon, you have to climb a few hills. Specifically, Juniper Pass, Loveland Pass and Vail Pass. Oh, and they threw Swan Mountain in there just for grins. The total ascent is around 11,000 feet. To do that as a round-tripper, well you gotta be one tough hombre. Plus, you probably eat like a super model.

I have done that kind of climbing before. See the write up of the Galibier/Telegraphe/Galibier. Also, did the Tour das Hugel a number of years ago. Both had 10,000 + feet of vertical, so I kinda knew the price of admission. Here's the big difference: Galibier tops out at just under 9,000 feet. Tour das Hugel, well that's tough but all in the sweet, sweet Austin atmosphere.

I rode a lot. 5 months of mind-numbing intervals, assembled by my good buddy Jack Cartwright. Logged about 4,000 miles in 2017 as the event loomed.

No so fast. I pretty much skipped this section of the training manual. Sorry, but my current mind space required chips and salsa more than a PR up Vail Pass.

We were all flying up there the Friday before the Saturday July 8, 2017 ride. That Thursday, as I packed my smallclothes, my phone started lighting up.

RIDE CANCELLED (Excerpt from Triple Bypass website):

The Triple Bypass was cancelled because of fires in Summit County. The county had to pull all emergency resources that were contracted to lend support to our event and subsequently Summit, Clear Creek and the Colorado State Patrol canceled our permit for the ride.
We at Team Evergreen share your sadness and frustration with the cancellation of the 2017 Triple Bypass. TE is a not for profit organization and the expenses of the planning and preparation of the event are significant. Even though the ride could not occur, we still carry the expense for the food, infrastructure and material orders that were necessary to produce the Triple this year. The Board of Directors is currently reviewing options in response to the numerous requests for transfers and refunds. Please be patient while we find the best solution that will accommodate the shared losses and still ensure the production of the event in 2018.

Are you kidding me? Cancelled? Screw that. I wanted to head up and do the ride anyway. Alas my buddies weren't into it. Todd had done the ride a number of times before, so didn't have the fire. Mark has a lot of irons in the fire, and training for this one was not his A1 priority. Marc was with his lovely wife in Colorado, and they seamlessly transitioned into a couples trip. Cancelled!?!?! All that training, for what? Pain! Betrayal! Angst! Faced with a huge, disappointing Force Majeure, I stewed. Days passed. Like the line in that classic friends comedy, Brokeback Mountain, I just couldn't quit the triple. So I decided to go solo. Well, after I got approval from Joan. Who offered to SAG for me. Unreal, right? Joan is the best.

Sorry I got a little mushy there.

On to the Ride!

We checked into Evergreen on Sunday afternoon. Ate a very forgettable lunch and a solid dinner (dinner was at Tuscany Tavern). Watched Game of Thrones (spoiler - people died) and went to bed.

Woke up at 5am, coffee, two sports bars, yada yada yada, I'm on the road.

Here is me at the start of the ride. Atmosphere? Electric! There was a buzz in the air y'all. Turns out it was just a lot of noisy bugs. I rolled out to great fanfare. I was all by myself. Reminded me of the playgrounds of my ginger-kissed youth.  My ride plan was to economize as much as possible. I had put a 32 on the back in prep for this beast, and I intended to use it. For the pelo-ignorant, a 32 cog cassette in the back allows you to spin merrily up even the most Italian of mountains. and it's the size of your granny's apple pie. Just me y'all. Not even a volleyball to keep me company.

The first climb is a combo of Squaw Pass and Juniper Pass. It was pretty damn spectacular. As i spun up at 180 watts (thank you 32-cog granny cassette!) the silence accentuated the beauty around me. Truly incredible. In the distance, a few coyotes were howling, likely wondering how the old fat guy was staying upright at 180 watts. Did I care? NOPE. I was doing it baby!

This was a long, but even-tempered climb. I rolled over the top with all of my matches intact.

 See, look how happy I was at Echo Lake?!

I coasted like the geriatric that I am all the way down to Idaho Springs. Where I met my lovely wife and my youngest child. They stocked me back up with some H2O, and a sports bar. These ladies were super sweet to me, given that I kept them in the car pretty much the whole day. THE DAY OF CHRIS!!

All my little birds told me that Loveland Pass was the butt-kicker, soul-stealer, Friday the 13th-Jason killer of the ride. I was ready. Well, maybe not.

I kept spinning at low endurance (thanks to altitude, my heart thought it was tempo), and figured it was just a matter of time before I crested and was 2/3 done with this ride. Here's my take on this climb:

Idaho Springs to Georgetown - around 800 feet of climb, mostly false flats. This suckers you into thinking you are in for another pleasant spin. Plus, there are about a thousand broken-down cars to inspect as you putter uphill. Someone more introspective may have drawn the connection between those dead beaters and the pelo of one, but I am not too into that kind of thing.

Anyhoo, Georgetown is where it all begins. 4% to Silver Plume, then onto a bike path that is truly splendid. Tree covered, with some kickers that just keep on coming. Then you pop out onto the highway. THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU. Or likely you leave me. As I surveyed the switchbacks that crept up the mountain, I nearly cried. So much more work left! Instead of crying, I stopped and ate a cookie. It made me feel a little better.

Seriously y'all, the remaining climb to the top took a piece of me that I will never get back. I had to stop three more times! Just couldn't breathe. My DNA is meant to be working somewhere at sea level. I lose about 30% of my flatlander power in the mountains.

Here is me at the top of Loveland (that old lady passed me on the way up)

At the top, I was well over 8,000 feet of the targeted 10k of climbing that the entire ride promised. Joan and Emma met me up there. Life savers! I was whiter than normal. This is hard to achieve, since I am about the whitest form of white person imaginable. Twenty minutes later (after some coca cola, fluid refills and some other sugary crap) I rolled on down the road. 

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. Swan Mtn was nothing. And the Copper/Vail climb is old hat. The 32 made me slower, but kept me on task. My garmin died on the descent from Vail Pass, so of course I got lost somewhere east of Avon. I have no idea where the Official Ride ended, but mine ended at a bus stop in Old Homestead. Close enough. After all, it was my own personal triple. 

I am so glad I did it. 

*It may not have happened exactly like this. But I am writing this history, so...