Triple ByPass canceled because of wildfires
AVON — The Triple ByPass will be bypassed this year.
Today’s 120-mile ride, which traverses three 10,000-foot mountain passes, on its way from Evergreen to Avon’s Nottingham Park and Sunday’s jaunt in reverse was canceled on Thursday due to the wildfires in Eagle and Summit counties.
Organizers of the ride said on their website, triplebypass.org, said that the haze in the air caused by the outbreaks and the need to have emergency personnel on call to combat the fires were the primary reasons for the cancellation of the 29th edition of the event.
“With deep regret, the 29th annual Triple Bypass ride has been canceled due to the forest fires, dangerous conditions and heavy smoke in both Eagle and Summit counties,” the website said. “Our paramount concern is the safety or our riders, volunteers and emergency personnel … We recognize the need for local and state police to be available for fire related duties and our ride would tax their resources.”
Word filtered out by text, Facebook and Twitter Thursday night into Friday.
“One of my riding-partner friends shot me a text and I thought it was a bad joke,” Eagle-Vail’s Led Gardner said. “I went to the website and realized he wasn’t joking.”
Riders who were planning to pedal in either direction or both — the combination ride is the Double Triple ByPass — expressed simultaneous disappointment and understanding.
“I’m bummed,” said Fort Collins’ Jeff Lund, who was ready for his second ByPass. “Of course, you train for something like this, and look forward to it. Even though I’m disappointed, I fully understand the reasoning behind it. You definitely need to make sure the resources are there to take care of the fire.”
Fires in the high country
With the Gutzler fire in northern Eagle County and the Peak 2 conflagration in Breckenridge two of the fires along the route that takes riders over Juniper (11,140 feet), Loveland (11,990) and Vail (10,560) passes, there was a bit of a disconnect between Front Range riders and Eagle County participants.
Those on the Interstate 25 corridor didn’t know there were fires up in the mountains, while locals were quite aware of the smoke.
“Personally, I think they should have waited another day, but I kind of saw it coming with the air quality,” said Edwards’ David LaGrange, who has done the Triple ByPass for 10 years and the Double Triple the last five. “I think it’s a good call. They just wanted to leave the roads and trails open.”
“I think they made a good decision,” said Tom Pecsok, 79, who lives in Castle Rock, but also taught skiing at Arrowhead for six seasons. “Smoke doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s an issue for other people. I can’t take issue with keeping emergency and medical people away from what’s important. I don’t think they had a choice. I didn’t know there was a fire until I woke up this morning and found the ride as canceled. It is what it is.”
The show goes on?
There will still be riding today.
Team Evergreen, which sponsors the ByPass, will be hosting a Pre-Ride Shakedown and Triple Fest, rides in the Evergreen area.
And others are simply not deterred.
The Triple ByPass’ announcement on Facebook prompted riders to schedule their own mountain rides. Several appear to be doing the route from Evergreen to Mount Evans in Clear Creek County. Others look like they will be doing the Copper Triangle.
And some are going ahead with the Triple ByPass ride, though the traditional support staff will not be in place.
“Me and my teammate, her niece came to town from Florida and she’s been training for a month,” LaGrange said. “We decided we’re going to drive over to Evergreen and do a self-supported deal. There are places for us to stop, and I have a friend who will follow us in case of trouble.”
In the meantime, many are already getting ready for next year.
“Next year, I’ll be 80 and I think I can do it, Pecsok said. “The important thing for readers to know is that you are never as old as you think you are.”
And then there is an added side benefit from all the training for a ride that never happened.
“I can have a beer this weekend without any guilt,” Gardner said.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.