Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mt. Evans Epic Ride

Yesterday was the day I've been waiting for all summer. The crazy "epic" ride planned by Joe to see who was tough enough to summit Mt. Evans from his house in Denver (Englewood to be specific). It was 60+ miles from his house to the summit...and that would mean about 10,000 feet of elevation gain. To finish the ride - to get back to his house via Idaho Springs - would add another 2000 or so feet of climbing. And over 130 miles in the saddle. Who would attempt this? The Magnificent Seven!
Matt, Joe, Bryan, Nicole, Chris, Todd, Alan (L to R)
My day began at 3:30am to get dressed and leave the house shortly after 4am. The meeting time was 5am and the scheduled departure time 5:30, but it was closer to 5:45 by the time we had everything ready to go. It was before sunrise but just enough light to see. The seven of us headed out to pick up the Bear Creek Trail.
This was our warm-up as it was pretty flat and we wanted to stay together as a group. These trails can be croweded, but not this early! Occaisionally I turned my head and saw a beautiful orange and pink sunrise. A great day was ahead! My legs were feeling good and this was a comfortable pace for a warm-up.
We got off the trail and picked up Morrison Rd and had the first hills. Hill warm-up! Getting those legs prepped for what was to come. Just under an hour after leaving Joe's we made a water/pit stop at the Conoco in Morrison/C-470.
getting mentally prepared for the climbing after our warm-up
Then the climbing started! Joe and Todd took off and the rest of us thought it would be prudent to use each other and ride in a pace line up the mountain. It was 7am and a bit windy! I was probably going a bit harder than I should have been (power meters don't like) but the legs were willing and able. After we came out of the hills and were going through Kittredge, we came across Todd and Joe. Todd's chain had broken and they were fixing it. What a way to start the day!  But these guys are experienced cyclists and told us to go on ahead. But not before some of the guys took the opportunity for another pit stop.
pit stop on hwy 74
Back on the road I take a good pull, keeping an eye on my power. When in front, I have control! We rotated through again and the five of us make it to Evergreen. But first we have to climb this mega steep hill. At this point my power spikes to 250+watts and I won't have too much of that as there was a lot of climbing to do. So instead of climbing with the guys, I back off some, but my wattage still is high for that hill!  Alan stays back with me as well (he's riding a time trial bike so not the best bike for climbing!) We fly down the hill and pull off and make another stop. Last chance for water before Echo Lake.
refueling before we get to Squaw Pass
We wait here for a while, (we are 13 miles past Morrison and 1800ft higher). I take the opportunity to use the bathroom and eat a little something. Sticking to a good nutrition plan is critical on a ride like this! We kept our eye out for Joe and Todd, but didn't see them. Again, they are strong cyclists so we pressed on. A couple more rollers and 15 minutes later we were at the base of Squaw Pass Rd. At this point I was familiar with the ride, as I did it from here two weeks ago. And I was really glad I did. I knew about where my pacing should be and what to expect from the road. The group split up at this point, as everyone needed to climb within their ability. Bryan, Chris and Matt pulled ahead, and Alan and I were in the back. Still no Joe or Todd.
I felt like I was working a bit hard today. It was a little more difficult to keep my breathing under control here, and my heart rate was in the upper 160s. Would prefer it to be in the lower 160s, but I was going to chalk it up to "event day nerves." I pass several people going up this hill (not in our group) but it's always fun to pass folks. I hung on to the wheel of a guy for a couple minutes before continuing on. They were cool about that. About two thirds of the way up, Joe comes screaming past me. He's doing great, Alan's back there a bit and Todd's coming but hurting. As I'm climbing, I'm forcing myself to eat and drink. At a heart rate of 167 or so, breathing is a tad labored, so eating and drinking is not the easiest. But I take my Perpetuem, swallow my endurolytes and drink my HEED. This 18 mile stretch (well, 17.35 by my GPS) took 1:52 riding time and had 3500 feet of elevation gain.

We regrouped at Echo Lake. Our SAG support vehicle (Julie, Liz and Radar) were up there with all sorts of food and drink. We waiting for everyone to show up, rehydrate, refuel. Todd didn't have the best climb (some stomach trouble) so the stop was critical to him.
The Magnificent Seven (and Radar) at Echo Lake
After a 45 minute rest for me at Echo Lake, I was ready. My legs were aching, but mentally I was feeling good and I might as well give it a shot! If I needed to turn around, it would be an all downhill cruise back to Echo Lake. Off we went through the guard gate and the 14+ mile climb began!
I headed off first (any guy to get "chicked" would be my servant at the after party) so I could use any head start I could get! Soon after Todd and Joe come flying by. They really wanted to win the first to summit prize. Personally, I just wanted to summit. By mile 4 I passed Todd (he was walking) as his knee was causing him serious grief. He was going to summit no matter what!
This is a steady grind climb. I kept an eye on my heart rate and power, and wanted to feel good (as good as one can feel after 47ish miles and 5000+ feet of climbing already in the legs! I remembered the climb from a couple weeks ago, and it was actually mentally easier this time. I felt probably as good as I could and just kept riding. I made a quick pit stop at Summit Lake (mile 9) and the closer and closer I got to the top, the more I knew I was going to make it. It was slow going, but I was going. here are some pictures that Julie and Liz took as they drove the support vehicle to the summit:
not quite yet to treeline
still going
it's not as flat as it looks
still many more miles to climb
Made it! At the support car at the summit!
dressed for the descent
So the whole group made it to the summit. Todd got back on the bike by mile five and pushed through the pain. Joe got there first and won the "speedo jaune" or as close to a yellow speedo as he could find...and he took his prize with pride and celebrated during the 14 mile descent.
Joe riding with honor
We regroup at Echo Lake and make the descent to Idaho Springs. 25 minutes down averaging 30mph. Sweet! It was BeauJo's pizza time. It was packed so instead of waiting for a table we ordered it to go and ate in the parking lot.
Joe, Julie, Liz, and Alan behind BeauJo's in Idaho Springs

Todd and Alan called it a day, Bryan is calling for motivation to climb Floyd Hill
After eating pizza, a welcome treat (but don't eat too much - still 40+ miles to get home) Todd and Alan decide to ride in the support car back to Denver. The rest of us pedal on. One more hill to climb, about 2000 feet total climbing on the return. My legs were tired, but since it'd been 3 hours since I summited, they had some rest in them. So the five of us made the trek back. Being lighter of the bunch, I descend a bit slower than the guys. But I still move pretty quickly so they don't have to wait long at the turns. I had no idea how to get back so it was a good thing they did wait for me! Floyd Hill was tough, but since it was a lot shorter than the other climbs of the day, we survived it! It was a nice cruise back from Evergreen to Morrison. One last pitstop at the Conoco and then up the road to the trail. Cruising as a group on the trail, I was feeling really good about what we all had just done and that my legs hung in there. Joe got some interesting looks (he was still wearing the speedo, but at least had a shirt on). A little before 7pm we made it back to his house! A 13 hour day!
Then the after-party began! Joe's mom had helped Liz and Julie get everything set up for us. Great mexican food, drinks, oh, and shower! I got served drinks by Alan and Todd, as I "chicked" them to the summit. Really an Epic Ride that we won't forget any time soon!


Christi said...

Wow! Congrats to the magnificant 7! It sounds like you guys had a great day of riding!

Terry Odell said...

Way to go, Nu!

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

emcee said...

Clearly, there is no stopping this foolish behavior. The 'slug' gene must be on the Y chromosome.

Oma said...


amy said...

Way to go! Sounds like self-torture to me, but you seemed to have enjoyed the ride. You keep "chicking" those guys!