Triangle trifecta: Copper Triangle brings the three most important ingredients for a great bike ride

79-mile ride attracted over 2,000 riders to pedal epic three-pass loop

The finish area of the 79-mile Copper Triangle has a special energy greeting riders after descending Vail Pass.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

There are three non-negotiables to every great cycling event: a jaw-dropping route, ample rider support and good food. The Copper Triangle, which saw over 2,000 cyclists speed through the Vail Valley near the end of its renowned 79-mile, three-pass loop, dialed in the trifecta for its 16th annual running.

“It was amazing. I love this ride — it’s my favorite ride,” said Nancy Lippe, a rider from Silverthorne.

“The route is so beautiful. It’s also just nice to have those aid stations and the road is narrow enough that you feel safer with all of those other people. I don’t know if you can beat the beauty of this ride.”

The Copper Triangle route takes riders over Vail Pass in its final 15 miles.
Dave Camera/Courtesy photo

Three friends from Parker — Brad Warnick, James Webb and David Crawford — came up for their fourth Copper Triangles. The trio formed a nice train as the peloton moved across the flats at the base of Fremont Pass. Coming into Leadville, your humble correspondent was fortunate to latch on for a few pulls. The friendliness and community along the route, which starts in Copper, goes over Fremont Pass to Leadville, Tennessee Pass to Minturn, and Vail Pass back to the ski resort start, is its trademark.

The Copper Triangle, one of Colorado’s iconic road rides, brought over 2,000 cyclists to the area to ride from Copper Mountain to Leadville, Minturn and Vail before returning to the ski resort.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“I also find people are really nice on this ride,” added Lippe. Crawford agreed, adding, “That’s what I find as well, people on bikes are nice.”

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Going underneath I-70 on the way up Vail Pass, Lippe fell and scraped her arm.

“When I wiped out, people were really nice to me, and I was like, ‘I need to pay this forward,'” she described. A few miles later, she got her chance.

“A guy was walking down Vail Pass (toward Vail) and I asked him if he was alright,” she continued. In need of a tube, the Summit County rider lended him hers.

“I feel like that’s just the whole spirit of this ride,” she said.

“It’s just such a nice community and people are nice to each other,” she said.

The 16th annual Copper Triangle is one of nine events in the Outside Events Cycling Series.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Formerly part of the Roll Massif brand, in 2022, the Copper Triangle joined nine other signature Colorado and New Mexico events to form the Outside Events Cycling Series.

“I always have my eyes on rides; I appreciate that Outside has all these great rides now, all kind of bundled together,” said Lippe, who raced her new gravel bike at Wildhorse Gravel, Outside’s first event of the season back in May.

Underneath the Outside umbrella, all four riders noted that this year’s Copper Triangle was its best in terms of safety, support and food.

“This is the best food at this event that I’ve ever had,” said Warnick from inside the ski resort dining wing. At the table, plates of fresh greens, a gourmet pasta, bread and chicken were quickly disappearing.

“This year they finally added protein,” Lippe smiled.

“I felt like there were a lot more flaggers and people at key corners, telling you to slow down and warning you where the scary parts were,” Crawford added. “A lot more than in previous years, which was good.”

The open road at the top of Vail Pass, five miles after the King and Queen of the Mountain finish line.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“It’s beautiful, they support the ride so well and the accessibility for us — coming from Parker — is not bad,” Warnick summarized.

From the police escort start — a nice provision, even at the 6 a.m. start up Fremont Pass — to the timed KOM and QOM halfway up Vail Pass, to the fans lining the finish area in the center of Copper Village, the ride was worth the price of admission.

“Coming down the chute at the end — it’s fun,” proclaimed Crawford, who didn’t raise his fist as though he had won a Tour de France stage, like a certain writer may have been compelled to do during his moment of glory.

The Outside Events Cycling Series continues with the Enchanted Circle on Aug. 27. The 98-mile route heads out of Red River, New Mexico — the series’ only ride not in Colorado. It heads west to end with the Tour of the Moon on Sept. 10 and the Tour de Vineyards on Sept. 17.

A rider makes his way to the finish of the 2022 Copper Triangle, which brought more than 2,000 cyclists through Minturn and Vail near the end of its 79-mile route.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Lippe, when asked if she was mainly a skier, runner, hiker or biker, succinctly responded, “It’s biking season right now.”

Riders cross the Red Cliff Bridge during the 2022 Copper Triangle last Saturday.
Dave Camera/Courtesy photo

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