Local cyclists buckle down for Triple Bypass | VailDaily.com

Local cyclists buckle down for Triple Bypass

Shauna Farnell

While the most elite cyclists in the world tackle the French Alps Saturday in the Tour de France, ambitious cyclists from all over the United States and neighboring countries will undergo a Triple Bypass.

The Triple Bypass ride celebrates its 15th anniversary Saturday when it takes more than 2,500 cyclists 120 miles from Evergreen to Avon over three mountain passes and more than 10,000 feet of elevation.

“It’s one of the more challenging one-day rides,” said Breckenridge town manager Tim Gagen, who will take on his first Triple Bypass Saturday. “You find out whether you have the strength to muster up all the passes. Squaw is the waker-upper. Most of my road biking is going up to the top of the passes, but I haven’t done the miles in this ride. It will be one big step up from what I’ve been doing.”

Squaw Pass is the first climb on the ride, which begins in the morning in Bergen Park in Evergreen at about 8,000 feet. Cyclists climb to the summit of Squaw at 11,140 feet, then descend almost 4,000 feet to Idaho Springs before starting the next climb to the summit of Loveland Pass at almost 12,000 feet. Cyclists then drop into Keystone before climbing Swan Mountain Road (the unofficial quadruple pass in the ride) and drop into Frisco before climbing through Copper Mountain and up Vail Pass. The ride finishes with the descent into Vail and the flat stretch to Avon.

“The Triple Bypass is certainly one of the harder group rides in Colorado,” said Jeffrey Bergeron, a.k.a., “Biff America,” who has survived several Triple Bypasses. “One thing about it is, the Summit Countians and Eagle Countians that do the race … you start in Evergreen, which is lower than here, and you get this false assumption that you’re bullet proof and go out hard. Then you die going up Squaw Pass.”

The Triple Bypass is managed by Team Evergreen, and has skyrocketed in popularity since its inauguration 15 years ago, when only 68 cyclists participated.

“We’ve seen an average increase in the last three years of about 20 percent,” said Triple Bypass director Ron Swan. “Last year we had 2,683 people from 35 different states and at least one foreign country. “This year, we’ve got four-fifths of the United States represented so far. There are different levels of people riding. The fastest people are going to start in Evergreen around 5:30 a.m. and roll into Avon around 1 or 1:30 p.m., and there will be other people starting at dawn and finishing at dusk. I’ve seen 12- to 13-year-olds riding and people in their late 70s.”

As opposed to a tour like Ride the Rockies, where the longest leg is 102 miles, and several families participate on all sorts of different bikes, the Triple Bypass draws very few mountain bikers and several national cycling clubs donning the most expensive gear in the cycling industry. The altitude, however, often levels the pedaling field.

“For the masses, it’s really difficult,” said Scott Yule, who is used to such endurance activities and will ride the Triple Bypass for his fourth time Saturday. “I’ve got four friends from California coming in to do it. They did it for the first time last year, and it kicked their asses. It takes most people about eight hours. That’s a long ride. You see people from all over. They’re all pretty good riders. You see all the expensive bikes. It’s a one-day shot and 120 miles over 10,000 vertical feet. That’s a tall order. Team Evergreen does a great job with police and with feed stations. Some people are just dead after going up Squaw, but then there’s the long grind from Idaho Springs to the base of Loveland, and by the time you get there, you have to have your senses about you.”


The 2003 Triple Bypass

Registration is still open for the Triple Bypass, which begins Saturday morning in Evergreen.

Early registration is $90 and can be done at http://www.teamevergreen.org. Registration will be $105 on site beginning at 5:30 a.m. at Bergen Park in Evergreen. Registration includes a jersey, a barbecue and live music at the finish line.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.

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