AVON — Bring them the finest food and drink in all the land. They’ve certainly earned it.
Thousands of riders poured into Avon’s Nottingham Park Saturday afternoon and evening, having pedaled 120 miles from Evergreen over Juniper, Loveland and Vail passes during the annual Triple ByPass, each with their own story of triumph.
It’s not a race. The cyclists left Evergreen between 6 and 8 a.m., and finishing is the prize in itself.
“The finish line came up a little quicker than I thought it would, said Don MacWilliam of Phoenix. “I had anxiety, just trying it the first time, not knowing what it’s going to be like, whether you can handle the climbing, handle the altitude. I think we all did great. I finished it and am tickled pink to be able to say that.”
MacWilliam, like countless others, tackled the Triple ByPass with friends. He stood at the finish with his son Jim and buds Herb Durbin and Bill Goodwin. This was Goodwin’s second Triple ByPass, so the crew was prepared for the inevitable rain which always accompanies this event.
Soch Lar, of Evergreen, though a first-timer was also well-equipped with multiple layers and mittens, not the average riding accessory in July.
Lor moved to Evergreen from Wisconsin, so she was already stepping up in altitude. Like everyone else, she trained for the ByPass, riding to work three days a week and building up a mileage base.
Nonetheless, one will question oneself during the ride.
“Almost the entire time,” Lor said. “And why did I pay for this? And we paid a lot of money for it.”
Lor was shaking her head and smiling while saying that, and she said that she’ll do it again next year.
“We burned a bizillion (calories),” Lor said, speaking in highly-scientific, but probably accurate terms. “We’re going to go out to eat and drink lots of beer and wine.”
She was not the only one.
“Donuts for breakfast,” Josh Crane, of Boulder, said.
Crane made his way up here with Gordon Kost of Longmont.
“Our wives were our SAG crew with watermelon and rice krispies,” Kost said.
SAG is “support and gear” in cycling lingo. And SAG came in all shapes and sizes during the Triple ByPass. Families and friends streamed to the finish line with food and beverages, including an incredible assortment of microbrews. And then there are the volunteers, stationed all along the 120-mile route.
“Good job, you guys,” yelled Sue Godec from the WalMart/Home Depot roundabout, while helping to direct traffic. “You’re almost there. It’s all downhill.”
Godec, who lives in Edwards, was stationed there with her friend Farrah Denhart, who was doing her best impression of a baseball third-base coach waiving cyclists home.
“It’s crazy, isn’t it? They get up early and they ride three passes,” Godec said. “That’s amazing. We are just cheering on the bike riders, and it is so fun. They’ve done a lot of work. They’ve been in rain and everything.”
The respect is mutual. The riders have a lot of love for all the volunteers from Evergreen to Avon and all the aid stations in between.
“They had bells and music and they were just clapping,” Colorado Springs’ Kathy Derrick said. “They were cheering everyone on. The aid stations are such a life-saver. When you do a ride this long and this hard, you’ve got to get off the bike, and they have great food, and they’re just so happy.”
And that’s a good thing because for Derrick, fellow cycling friend Jennifer Finley and countless others, the ByPass is not done. This morning, for the second year in a row, it’s time for the Double Triple ByPass, from Avon back to Evergreen.
“I’m just glad I finished this,” Don MacWilliam said after Saturday’s ride. “There’s no way I could think about doing something tomorrow.”
Yet riders will be going out this morning from Avon, starting at 5 (yes, as in a.m.).
“I think, for us, it will be tomorrow,” Finley said. “It’s not so much today. We’re relieved today, but, tomorrow, we will feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.