12 May 2011

Mount Evans (by bike!)

baby mountain goats on Mount Evans
NOTE: I'm still trying to get all my old trip reports from my prehistoric Geocities website back online, and I've been trying to go chronologically. I recently found this gem that somehow got skipped. Maybe that's a good thing, because this was motivational when it happened, and it's inspiration for trying to repeat the feat this year in preparation for Pikes Peak.

The Lizard and Ferenc
7 August 2004

Ferenc met us in the Forest Service parking lot before the sun came up. He and The Lizard took off for the summit of Mount Evans on their bikes from there. I drove up to Echo Lake, the wimpy distance, not knowing for sure if I can make it up this monster. In the car, I passed a guy on a bike on his way up to Evans. He had one leg. It looked very uncomfortable to maintain balance on the bike in that condition, but he was pushing onward. How could I not be inspired???

When I arrived at Echo Lake, the wind was pummeling my car. I worried again I might not make it to the top. I opted out of my Camelbak due to the wind, and I borrowed the two filled water bottles The Lizard had left in my car because he opted to take his Camelbak to make sure he didn't run out of water.

I headed up the mountain on my road bike in what wasn't as cold or quite as windy as normal with a fraction less weight than I normally carry. It may have made a difference. That, and my dropping into the granny gears several times.

The Lizard passes me above Summit LakeI don't normally drop out of the middle ring. I've been trying to build leg strength. Being in granny gears doesn't even sound fun because I would have to be aerobic instead of strong. The Lizard has been trying very hard to teach me there's nothing wrong with spinning.

Maybe the leg strengthening helped, because I didn’t do too bad. I hovered around 5.4 and 5.3 miles per hour most of the ride, although I dropped to 3.9 twice and had great difficulty keeping the bike upright in a serious headwind. But I needed only about 11 lung breaks this trip. I started at 10,400 and made it to about 14,000 in 2 hours and 56 minutes. My first successful trip up Mount Evans on the road bike. The highest elevation I've ever been with the road bike. My fifth 14er of the year. Nearly 45 minutes better than the same trip on the mountain bike. I feel pretty darned good about the effort.

Ferenc' kids were excited to see him on the summitFerenc was a tad over three hours for his total trip, which shows you just how slow I go. Both guys passed me on the summit switchbacks, The Lizard closer to Summit Lake. They both pedaled 13 miles more than me getting to the top, and they did it in just a few minutes over my total time.

The Lizard broke three hours. He said he was really losing steam toward the top. So was I. I was losing motivation because I thought there were three more switchbacks, then two, and kept finding out, oops, two more... oops, two more... NO! NOT TWO MORE!!!

I didn't have a headache on the way up. But boy did it hit me hard on the way down. I felt as if my head was being pounded with a hammer. And then my face got pelted with hail. I also realized why I like the mountain bike so much on this road. I wanted the mountain bike to hold my speed down on descents, which it did wonderfully. Plus, it has front suspension.

Coming down the mountain on the road bike was fast. The road is really awful when you have no suspension and your head is aching. The freeze cracks were miserable and reverberated throughout my frame. Both my bike and my body! I am not sure my rims are intact after that ride!

me, The Lizard, Ferenc and LilyI decided if I ever do that ride again, I want to be taken down the mountain. I don't want to ride down again. Too hard on my body. I felt beat up at the end.
But it was a good ride! Don't get me wrong! I had fun. The one-legged guy passed me on the final switchback and beat me to the summit. He was downright inspirational. As was the guy on the mountain bike with knobbies who passed me. He did exactly what I did last year. Only he kicked my butt. As did everyone else riding up the mountain. I was no doubt the very slowest. I would have been disqualified if I'd been riding the Mount Evans Hillclimb!

But I did it. I climbed Evans again. On a road bike. In a time I'm happy with. In demoralizing gears. But without headaches (on the ascent) and without knee pain. That's close to 15 miles of sustained climb. At what I've always sworn is 37.6 percent grade. :) (I've been assured the grade is never more than 11%. But I think whoever came up with that number has never been up Mount Evans on a bicycle!)

Summit Love


  1. Good for you. It doesn't matter if you're the last one to the top. Getting there is the important thing. Heck, just trying to get there is admirable.

    Hooray for granny gears! I too learned from the husband that there's no glory in grinding away at a big gear. Spinning IS better. And easier on the knees.

    Did you ever try intervals for muscle strength? I started adding them a couple of summers ago and saw amazingly quick results, even with very short 10-15 mile rides. (Again at husband's recommendation. My personal cycling coach.)

    Looking forward to more from the archives!

  2. This is one of my posts that was lost (or deleted) when Blogger went down on May 12. Fortunately, I had a copy because this text came from my Geocities site years and years ago. Unfortunately, all the wonderful comments that were left when I first posted it here on my blog are now lost...


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