No rain, but some pain at Triple Bypass
AVON When riding a bike for hours, climbing and descending three mountain passes across 120 miles, the weather is a big deal.Drop after drop of rain not only makes a perilous journey for bikers traveling in excess of 50 mph down seven percent grades , but it also soaks through clothing and sends a chill down to the bone.Just ask any of the 2,000 or so riders out of a total 3,500 who couldnt finish last years Triple Bypass ride because they were on the verge of hypothermia.For anyone, finisher or not, in last years Triple Bypass, Saturdays ride was a gift from the bike gods.Not only did the roads stay dry despite calls for rain, but from when the sun first came out until the final riders made their way into the fields at Avon Elementary, a cloud cover offered some nice protection and moderate temperatures. A perfect day for a bike ride even if it happens to be one of the most grueling day rides in the country.Last year was survival, said Chris Porter, of Genesee, while relaxing on a hill in the finish area. It was a long day. Nobody was talking much. Today was a little more conducive to talking. I met some wonderful people. This was a great, great ride.Despite the low finish rate last year, the 3,500 riders spots filled up quickly for this years ride.I completed it last year in the rain, said Diane Ridgway, 58 of Arvada. It was so pretty that I wanted to do it again. While there were plenty of riders from Colorado, there were a fair share of those from across the country.Its one of the famous rides, said first-timer Perry Robinson of Green Bay, Wisc. And it seemed very well organized, which it is. The police support I cant imagine how many motorists we pissed off today in the roundabouts going through Vail, Copper and Breckendridge. I loved it, but I felt a little about the line of traffic.And the views?Stunning, Robinson said. When you are going up to Loveland Pass on (U.S. Highway) 6, its like, Wow thats what Im going to do.The ride, which started in Evergreen at an elevation of 7,220 feet, moved up Squaw Pass (9,807 feet) and then Juniper Pass (11,140 feet) before descending all the way to Idaho Springs (7,524 feet). Next came a long climb to the top of Loveland Pass (11,990 feet), and then the steep plunge down to Keystone. After a ride around Lake Dillon, the riders made their way to Copper Ski Area and then up Vail Pass (10,560 feet) before the long decline into Avon (7,430 feet). The ride climbs 10,310 total feet, and some of the top bikers blazed through in just less than seven hours.I was en fuego, said Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, who rode under the Beaver Creek jersey along with Mike Kloser, Mike Gibbs and Josh Nota. Menconi and company finished in 6 hours, 39 minutes.Arn rode like he has never ridden before, Kloser said.My goal was to stay with Mike until the top of Squaw Pass to stay with him for the first 12 miles, Menconi said.Both Kloser and Menconi will be back in the saddle for another century ride the Colorado-Eagle River Ride which Menconis Snowboard Outreach Society puts on and for which Kloser is the ambassador.Dont tell herEven though the Triple Bypass has 3,500 riders entered, there are less than 7,000 wheels that start the race. Enron math? Hardly.This is the first time weve done the race on a tandem, said Brooke Chesnut, who along with his wife Pam, were one of several tandem riders to make the trip. We wanted to ride together and the best way for us to ride together is to ride the tandem. It was fabulous.Like many riders in the Triple Bypass, the Chesnuts have plenty of miles on their bike.Weve ridden about 1,000 miles on it, Brooke said. Weve done a century and did 290 miles on a four-day tour.The Chesnuts used the tandem as kind of a roving aid station.We communicate, we eat lots of food and we drink were always replenishing ourselves, Brooke said.Pam, who only began riding two years ago, enjoyed the back seat.Im new to the road, she said. I dont have to think as much. I trust him. And it helps me when Im out riding by myself because I pay attention to how he shifts.The ride was harmonious, although there was just one stern rule.Im not supposed to tell her how fast we go when we head down Loveland Pass, Brooke said. Until afterwards. 52 mph today. Hard coreMany of the riders arent your weekend warriors looking for a laid-back Saturday ride. Ridgway, despite her lack of specific training for the Triple Bypass, or even a good climbing bike, didnt have much of a problem completing the ride in solid time. I only have a tri(athlon) bike, RIdgway said. Everyone was laughing at me today, saying, This is a strange ride to take a time-trial bike on.The laughs stopped when Ridgway, who won last years Ironman for her age group, passed them by.And Porter, donning a 7-11 biking jersey that pays homage to the first competitive cycling team in the Tour de France, used the Triple Bypass as another training run for his big race the Mt. Evans Hill Climb.A week ago, I was riding an excess of 200 miles and (climbing) and excess of 20,000 feet a week, Porter said. That gets you comfortable and in shape.The 55-year old Porter just got into biking at 51, after years of running, and hopes to stay on two wheels for a while.I plan on doing (the Triple Bypass) for another 20 years, he said.At 65, the spry Joe Neer pulled in his fourth Triple Bypass Saturday.I felt really strong, Neer said. I had a flat that slowed us down coming down on Vail Pass.Well, Neer didnt have it his riding partner Marcus Firillo, 56, did.Im the one that had to go from 30 (mph) to 0, Firillo said. It was a little unnerving.Firillo then sang the praises of his riding partner, and let out a little secret.This man rode away from some 25-year olds today. Some fit 25 year olds. One of them leaned to me, Firillo said, then turning to Neer, And I didnt tell you this, but he said, That old guys got some legs. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.