Bikers ride through rain at Triple Bypass
From Evergreen to Avon is 120 miles. That’s not your typical bike ride. And when nearly every mile of the journey is under rainy skies, that makes it all the more challenging.”At the top of Squaw Pass, it started raining,” said Pete Baker, one of the competitors in Saturday’s Triple Bypass ride. “Coming down, I looked west and saw the clouds were still there, and I thought, ‘This is going to be a long one.'”Long, wet and cold.”There were different variations of rain,” said Marc Romero. “Light, medium and heavy.”The elements caused a good number of riders to cut the route short before and after Eisenhower Tunnel.”I made it to Keystone,” said Andy Doyle. “It was a deluge from the top of Loveland to Keystone. We were already soaked to the bone, and it was so cold.”At the finish area in Nottingham Park, Doyle was still shivering.”Yes, and that’s after a drive from Keystone to (Avon) with the heaters cranked and the seat warmer on. I give a lot of credit to (those) who can survive it.”
While the conditions weren’t ideal for most riders, there was still a steady stream of bikes cruising into Avon throughout the afternoon.”I’ve been training all year,” said Keith Principe. “That’s why I was committed to finishing it. I dropped about 15 pounds. (Biking) is a way of life.”John Kelly, who is from Evanston, Wyo., said he didn’t mind the rain that much, and always enjoys the atmosphere of the ride too much to not finish.”What’s most fun is being around this many cyclists – people who like to do the same thing,” Kelly said.Hard breakin’Due to the heavy rains, riders took longer than usual to traverse almost halfway across the state.”The backside of Loveland was dangerous,” said Greg Brown. “You can usually descend at 66 miles per hour, and today if you were doing over 45, you were in trouble. Coming down Vail, you can usually do 50 or 55, and you couldn’t do much more than 35. I wasn’t anyway. It felt like any minute (the bike) was going to float out from underneath.”Twenty minutes after Brown finished the race, his hands were still pale white from clenching the brakes.
“You can see there’s not blood in there yet,” Brown said. “Coming down Loveland, I was scared to death. It was on the verge of sleet. I had both breaks in all the way and I was still going 45 and there was no hope of going any slower.”Kelly also played it safe.”I was in pure wimpy mode today,” Kelly said. “I didn’t take any chances whatsoever.” Stop or go?In sunnier times, the racers would stop more frequently, but Saturday the ride was all about momentum. “Once you stop, it’s hard to motivate yourself to go again,” Romero said. “I think people went with fewer breaks than they usually do, and that kills you. You want to stop.”But Romero, whose water supply wasn’t exhausted at the finish, guzzled some rain to stay hydrated.”It saved me from stopping,” Romero said.
And when the bikers did stop, it wasn’t for long.”They were shorter,” Brown said. “We just kept rolling. We were thinking, ‘No hypothermia. Stay warm. Just keep going.’ That’s the least I’ve ever eaten (during a ride).”And because many riders decided to stop, there weren’t many packs of riders.”I’ve done this race for three years in a row,” Principe said. “And because of the weather … for extended periods of time, you were all by yourself. It stinks because you can’t draft anybody.”A little helpPrincipe may not have seen a lot of fellow riders, but he did find encouragement in non-riders.”One thing that helped out was that, amazingly, throughout Breckenridge and Vail, there were tons of everyday people out in the rain,” Principe said. “They were just fishing, playing and biking. I thought, ‘All right, I’m not crazy. Everyone else is out here.'”The most comforting section for Brown, however, was the final stretch from Vail to Avon.
“It was raining and it was 50 degrees,” Brown said. “You know it’s done and there’s not more climbs. It’s straight into the finish. Every year, that’s the best part.”And for those got to travel in the warmth of a car for the final third of the race, and still had blue, quivering lips, there’s next year to enjoy.”Since I didn’t finish this year, I have to do it again, I guess,” Doyle said.Other riders just can’t get enough, and don’t plan on waiting until next year.”I’m going to ride back on Monday,” Baker said. “So between the two (rides), that’ll be a nice weekend.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado