AVON — It is not a race.
The Triple ByPass Ride, which saw about 3,500 cyclists roll from Evergreen to Avon’s Nottingham Park, on Saturday is not a competition.
Try telling that to those who finished.
This is their Tour de France or USA Pro Challenge. When one conquers 120 miles that includes Squaw, Loveland and Vail passes — hence the Triple ByPass — it’s a triumph of Herculean proportions.
“I’ve been riding my bike for about seven or eight years and this is, by far, the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had on the bike,” Denver’s Colin McCallin said. “I’m really, really excited. I couldn’t be happier.”
After finishing, McCallin posed for pictures for family and fiends, putting on his medal and lifting his bike in victory.
“We did the Copper Triangle last year and we wanted to kick it up a notch,” said Rich Spellman of St. Louis, who was riding with buddies, including Rich Seal. “We hang out in Summit County quite a bit and come to Vail and ski, so we love the area. It’s not just fun to be here in the winter. It’s also fun in the summer.”
Training and preparation
The Triple ByPass Ride — and today’s Double-Triple ByPass Ride, i.e., riding back down to Evergreen today — isn’t done on a whim. Cyclists build up to this event.
Denver’s Katie Paulson said she’s built a base of 1,500 miles and 75,000 vertical feet in preparation for Saturday’s ride. Boulder’s Eric Schoeller, who is one of the bold doing the Double-Triple, said he’s done rides as long as 160 or so miles and even has trained in thunderstorms for the rain which almost always accompanies this event at some point.
“I looked at the weather before I came out today and looked miserable,” Schoeller said. “I didn’t have a single drop of rain, and I don’t understand how it’s possible.”
Perhaps, the rain is saving itself up for today?
Again, it’s not a race, but just like major cycling events, riders have their own support and gear (SAG) crews. Schoeller’s was Mom, aka Jayne from Westport, Connecticut. (And a very proud mom she was, setting up a massage for her son to prepare him for leg No. 2 today.)
Paulson and her husband pedaled Saturday, but the latter’s parents flew in from Atlanta to take care of their young daughter.
Loveland and Vail
While summiting any 10,000-foot pass does not fall under the category of “piece of cake,” Squaw Pass is the first and riders are fresh. In a very unscientific poll, Loveland Pass was where riders were hitting the wall.
And then there is Vail Pass. It’s getting brutal at this point, but the end is near. Technically, there are still 28 miles from the top of the final pass to Nottingham Park, but the sense that the tough stuff is out of the way is palpable.
“Freaking amazing.” Paulson said. “Absoultely incredible. It’s over enough.”
“Lot of high-fives were shared,” Seal said.
“We needed a couple of beers up there,” Spellman said. “I’m glad we didn’t have them.”
Party time or not
With 120 miles of riding done, one would think a King Henry VIII-like feast, complete with tossing the bone over one’s shoulder would be apropos.
And that’s what a lot of riders were thinking.
“We’re going to have steaks and couple of Guinness, a couple of bottles of wine,” Seal said.
“Nice wine,” added Spellman.
“I will eat absolutely everything,” Paulson said.
But maybe not everyone. Team Evergreen’s website said that 3,500 registered for the westward ride, and that 2,500 will be going eastbound today. Then there are approximately 1,000 set to do both, including Schoeller.
“As much as I want a beer, that’s for tomorrow.”
McCallin wasn’t understandably wasn’t going in for the concept of doing this again today.
“No. I’m done,” he said. “I see these people who are wearing the gold jerseys who are doing the double-triple. They can have it. I’ll take my single-triple and put that in the bank for a while.”
As for Schoeller, he was getting the aforementioned massage and starting to rehydrate and rest for today.
“You’re going to go through all sorts of phases of love and hate during a long ride like this, good times and bad times,” he said. “You know that you’ll get through it. It’s going to be more difficult. I’ve got a little bit of knee problem. I’m hoping I can get through that — ride smart tomorrow.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.