EAGLE COUNTY — It was somewhere around mile 210, and the final 30 miles could not have been passing any slower — about 6 miles per hour, to be exact.
Laboring up Juniper Pass, a lonely, scenic stretch of road between Idaho Springs and Echo Lake, I was beginning to think I’d gotten more than I’d bargained for when I had giddily accepted a media spot in the Double Triple Bypass ride a couple months earlier.
I figured it’d be easy enough to cruise through the iconic Colorado fundraising ride from Evergreen to Avon and write about the experience. But the executive director of Team Evergreen, which puts on the ride, was firm — I needed to experience the Double Triple.
“Double or nothing,” she said resolutely.
A classic Colorado ride
The Triple Bypass, for the uninitiated, is a 120-mile road ride that starts in Evergreen, climbing three of the state’s toughest passes, and ends in Avon’s Nottingham Park. Riders will experience more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain and see the tops of Juniper Pass (11,140 feet), Loveland Pass (11,990 feet), Swan Mountain and Vail Pass (10,560 feet.).
Entry fee gets you vehicle support, frequent aid stations and a meal at the finish line. Proceeds go to numerous Colorado charities that provide volunteers to run the event from start to finish.
The ride, which happens the weekend of July 12-13 this year, is so popular that it fills up quickly. Doing the Triple is no small feat for any level of rider, but riders of the Double Triple turn around after riding to Avon and ride right back to Evergreen the following day for a total of 240 miles and 20,000-plus feet of elevation gain.
Diehards had been informally completing the double for years, but the Double became an official category in the ride a few years ago.
This year, Double Triple riders will receive their own unique jersey, exclusive vehicle support provided by Prestige Audi, additional gear bag drop-off to Loveland, enhanced amenities at the aid stations and exclusive post-ride recovery from Denver Sports Recovery.
While the Evergreen-to-Avon only ride is full, there are still spots open for the Double Triple, Sunday’s Avon-to-Evergreen only ride and the Triple Relay (teams of three completing one way). Waiting list spots for the first day are also available.
The cost is $165 for a single day and $290 for the Double Triple. Sign up at www2.triplebypass.org.
Up for the challenge?
There’s something about doing an epic ride with other people that makes the entire experience unique. You’ll be surrounded by riders from the chilly first ascent up Squaw Pass out of Evergreen early Saturday morning, to the blistering (somewhat rainy) descent down Vail Pass into the home stretch of Avon.
You’ll have constant cheerleaders pushing you on, including aid station volunteers and the residents that line the streets through towns like Georgetown and Silver Plume. But honestly, those cheers take you a lot further on the second day. Rolling into Avon on Saturday, I was by no means spry, but I didn’t feel crushed either.
Even getting up early the next day to ride up a misty, cloud-shrouded Vail Pass wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.
Things were quieter than during the more-crowded ride the previous day, and I enjoyed the views of Lake Dillon, the lung-searing altitude atop Loveland Pass and rolling through the historic mining towns. It wasn’t until I hit the final climbs at Juniper and Squaw that the suffering began.
“Am I even going the right way?” I thought at one point, suddenly alone on the road. “How can I possibly not be at the top? Why did I think this would be a good idea?”
Tired legs gave way to near exhaustion, and I spent the next hour and a half fidgeting in my bike seat (a cumulative 12 hours on a saddle over less than two days doesn’t do the bum well) and guessing how many more minutes it would be until I reached the top.
In the final mile of the climb, the temperatures dropped and clouds descended to the point you could barely see 20 feet in front of you, giving the unnerving feeling that you were climbing right into the sky. After some quick rejuvenation at the summit aid station, I plunged into the long, gratifying descent to the finish line.
Collapsing on the grass at the finish area after wolfing down a plate of food, the sun suddenly made an appearance and it became a perfect summer day. Something about that makes you forget the suffering and I was suddenly feeling pretty good about myself.
“Heck, I might even do this again next year,” I thought.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at email@example.com.