13 July 2009

Triple Bypass

No, it's not surgery, but it is health-related. More than 3,500 cyclists of just about all interest levels take on 120 miles with three mountain passes and 10,300 feet in elevation gain. In a day!

"It's not a race," The Lizard always emphasizes. Sure. It's not a race. Riders start whenever they like and ride at their own pace. But the fast ones like to see if they can break their previous year's time, and don’t you dare try to pass them!

We set our alarm for 3 a.m. so The Lizard can arrive in Avon before potential afternoon thunderstorms. His goal this year is to finish in less than 8 hours.


As he pedals up Squaw Pass pretty much alone in the dark, I head over to Lookout Mountain for sunrise. I arrive early, and I'm stunned to see a headlamp coming slowly up one of the best training climbs along the Front Range. By golly, it's a cyclist!


As he passes me, I notice he's wearing a Triple Bypass jersey and helmet number! This diehard is getting in an extra steep climb and an extra 20 miles or so, depending upon where he started. Wow!

On the way back to Idaho Springs, I encounter a few curious critters.


The Lizard is the fifth cyclist to arrive in Idaho Springs. I see him again above Georgetown, and then I drive ahead to the Baker turnoff, where the cyclists will ride alongside the vehicles on I-70 for a few miles, the scariest part of the ride. Torreys Peak, the 11th tallest peak in Colorado, looms in the background.


The cyclists then head up Loveland Pass. I don’t go that way because the road is steep and narrow. I won’t see the Lizard now for another two hours or so. I hike along the Frisco bike path to await my favorite cyclist’s arrival and shoot some wildflowers along the way. Oops, didn’t expect him so early! I tell him to keep going if he doesn’t need water or food, and so I don’t get another shot.



Atop Vail Pass, he’s tired and hungry, but he doesn’t feel like eating. I prod him into eating some of his favorite cookies. It’s all downhill from here, but he admits he’s worn out. This is the longest he’s been on his bike this year after losing the entire month of training in May and being forced off his bike for six weeks while a training-related injury healed.



Eight hours and 36 second into his ride, he crosses the finish line, 23rd. But it’s not a race! Nevertheless, if they’d been handing out medals, he’d have been 12th in line to receive one. One of the ride sponsors handed out 12 free T-shirts, and The Lizard got the last one!

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