18 July 2013

Triple Bypass

The Lizard leads David Wiens and Crew above Georgetown.

2:45 a.m. => The clock taunts me with its red glow. It's supposed to glow a happy 3:30. Drats, insomnia and I have managed an hour of robust sleep for the evening. Sheeeesh, there's a great way to begin a 120-mile ride that will gain more than 10,000 feet of elevation by the 90-mile mark. Enter wailing violins – eeck, eeck, eeck! Life's a bear at times. Get up and get moving!

4:30 a.m. => We arrive at Bergen Park, and immediately Snowcatcher is busy with the camera. How she shoots in the dark amazes me. I start gearing up. At 8,500 feet it's actually quite warm and humid; arm warmers will suffice.

5:00 a.m. => I click into my pedals, and the day's first steep climb to 11,140 feet over 16 miles begins. My legs have awoken, sphincter has found its happy place in the saddle, and it feels good to roll into the wet, eerie and shadowed forest of early dawn. Will I make it to Avon? Will my bike break? Is it my day to exit this life? These thoughts filter through my mind until straining legs and deep, managed breathing take precedence.

6:43 a.m. => Yay! Juniper Pass! The day's least enjoyable climb is over. Two more – actually three – to go!

6:45 a.m. => Give or take a few minutes. Water stop Number One rolls into view. This is a quick stop for me to garner a jacket, skull cap (for warm ears and wet head), full-fingered gloves and some food. I'm soaked in sweat and quickly change before becoming chilled. I now have a very fast, very rough, chilly and shadowed descent into the hamlet of Idaho Springs, the lowest elevation of the day at ~7,500 feet. Warm clothes – check. Filled water bottles – check. Banana and muffin – check. Afterburners on, and we jet into the abyss.

7:31 a.m. => Snowcatcher greets me in Idaho Springs and takes my wet clothes off my hands. The long grind up the Clear Creek drainage toward Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide begins. Loveland Pass also is the halfway point.

8:36 a.m. =>Do pray tell, just above Georgetown at the 8,800-foot level, I find myself surrounded by Dave Wiens, Susan De Mattei and their entourage. Dave Wiens is a former pro mountain biker and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer. He won the Leadville 100 a record six consecutive times, including 2007 and 2008, when he aced out disgraced Tour de France veterans Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong. David's wife Susan is a former pro mountain biker and Hall of Famer. She also holds an Olympic bronze medal in mountain biking from the 1996 Olympics. When I realized I was amongst royalty, I shot forward and told Snowcatcher, who was parked at this access point, to be on the paparazzi lookout for the super stars.

10:20 a.m. =>After a long grind, I'm above treeline on the summit of 11,992-foot Loveland Pass. I'm also on the Continental Divide, meaning water flowing toward the east reaches the Atlantic Ocean, and water flowing off the west side journeys to the Pacific. I'm also above Loveland Basin Ski area, where I first took to snowy slopes an eternity ago in 1968. Weather is building, but not too bad yet.

11:57 a.m. =>The descent from Loveland Pass was beautimous!! Following a short and steep climb to Swan Mountain's 9,500 foot west shoulder, followed by a water break at the Breckenridge high school, I meet up with Snowcatcher along the Frisco bike path, where my beautiful wife loads on moral support. At this point, I'm at 9,100 feet, 80 some miles into the ride and feeling fairly good. Tired and wooden legs are weathering the challenge, not cramping or seizing up in any manner. One more climb, and a beautiful one at that.

1:03 p.m. =>I reach the summit of 10,660-foot Vail Pass. As usual, Snowcatcher enlivens my being with energy. So far, I've been on the road for eight hours, skimming along the top of the earth and toying with gravity for 93 miles. I have 27 easy miles left. The ride up West Tenmile Creek went well. Albeit, I didn't realize the guy on my tail was Wiens. At the top the former pro gave me a complement: "Nice work!" This 52-year-old felt rather proud as a result.

Most mountain areas west of the Continental Divide are biologically more complex and lush than their eastern kin. The Tenmile Range and ragged southern Gore Range merge here, and there is ample precipitation. The area is sumptuous, magical and very green, showing off a tapestry of colorful flowers. The pull up to Vail Pass is a "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" type of climb – I never tire of it.

2:22 p.m. =>Amen brothers and sisters! I'm relishing in all the cowbells at the finish. It's time to eat!

top speed

Some stats:

Trip time (bike in motion): 8 hours 34 minutes
Total trip time: 9 hours 22 minutes
Trip distance: 120 miles
Amount of climbing: 10,310 feet

This was my 5th Triple Bypass.
This was my slowest westward time.
This was my 2nd Double Triple Bypass (backtrack the following day back to Bergen Park.)
This was my 1st Double Triple Bypass to throw in the towel before reaching Bergen Park.

Lizard Love


  1. Wow that is quite the feat, you are a cycling demon haha cowbells?

  2. You got me on the title. So glad it was a ride and not the heart thing. :)

    The two of you always amaze me with all the miles you put in.

    Sending out blessings your way today

  3. You were pulling Dave Weins? Now, I am very very impressed. Great story, and great job!

  4. Not bad at ALL for a 52 year old! What an awesome ride, and what a kick to find that you were setting the pace (and blocking a bit of wind) for such a stellar bunch of riders.

    It sounds like a very beautiful course. And a great support crew too. :)

    I hope there will be a ride report for Day 2....

    P.S. I too have trouble sleeping the night before long rides. Sucks, doesn't it? There must be some way around this - what do the pros do? (Pop a pill, I imagine.) But it's amazing what our bodies are capable of doing even on short sleep rations.

  5. Wow man. A 52 year old super hero. 120 miles and 10,000 feet + ! Awesome. Brings back memories (less grand memories, only 4,000 feet over some 17 miles).

    Great job.

    Mr. M

  6. Thanks everyone! Especially Snowcatcher!

    Cowbell is good. I'm toying with becoming a shrink specializing in the healing attributes of cowbell. My lineage has a lot of ranching in it. Perhaps I can round up a real cowbell for next year. One that takes three slaves to lift and ring.

    Several years ago the Triple Bypass fell on my 30th class reunion. There were some wide-eyes when informed I was partaking in a triple bypass instead.

    It was fun riding amongst the super fit. Albeit, I think I could have been reeled in fairly easily.

    No trip report for day two. I just wasn't into it that morning, although riding through the clouds is always kind of fun.

    At this point, I'm hoping to continue this ride well into my 60s or better. There's a lot of climbing which means a lot of down hill as well. It's just a long day at altitude.

  7. May your adventures keep flowing


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