Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mt. Evans is conquered

In two weeks I'm planning on joining a group of "crazy people" to ride from Englewood, CO (SE Denver) to the top of one of Colorado's 14,000ft peaks, Mt Evans. As the air is pretty darn thin at 14,000ft above sea level, it was recommened that we try the summit ahead of time. Today was that day for me. A group of 3 (turned 4) started at Bergen Park/Evergreen, CO and headed "upwards."

I've heard some accounts of the climb prior to this day, seen garmin data (today's data here), and read a recent blog post by someone who just rode up this "thing" earlier in the week. So I think I was prepared. Really I was prepared to stay in my easiest gear (36x27) for about 4 hours to the summit. And that's pretty much what happened!

Bryan, Matt and I left the parking lot of this park and immediately you are in a climb. 9mph or so. That was it for the next 15ish miles. Topped out here about 11,200ft, then a nice 3mile or so descent to Echo Lake. The skies were blue and the scenery Colorado-tastic!
Matt and Bryan (and my bike) about 15 miles into the ride
It took us just under 2 hours to get to Echo Lake. We stopped here for a few minutes to get more water and make sure we were ready for the 14+ mile climb to the top.
refueling stop at Echo Lake (nice scenery, eh?)
Now we're on our way up to the top. Mt. Evans in through a national park, but today was a free day so we didn't have to pay!
Bryan, my bike, and Matt about to keep climbing!

So then we rode, rode and rode. Bryan went up ahead and Matt did as well. My goal was to keep my HR aerobic, as I didn't know how the thin air would affect me. Stories of cramps, wackiness, altitude sickness, and just plain not being able to catch your breath played in my mind a bit. I was going to go up this mountain smiling (not grimacing!). And luckily that's what happened! The miles are marked so I could gage my progress. It was going to take me about 2hrs to get to the top of this thing. I felt pretty good, though my legs still feel some of the last three weeks' hill repeats! Tight spot in my quad that needs to get worked out was there. But as far as nutrition (Hammer Perpetuem, HEED and endurolytes) I felt great.

A little over half-way to the top, someone comes by me and says 'Hey!' or 'Hey woman' or something like that. It was Joe! His car didn't start in the morning so he got a later start but still mananged to haul booty up the mountain and pass me (ok so I'm not that fast) and get to the summit not much past Bryan and Matt!

There were a few moments of headwind, well more than a few, on some of the switchbacks at the top. I'd go from 5.5mph to 7.0mph. woohoo! This climb is a mental challenge as well. You are above the treeline (12,140ish ft) for most of this climb so you can see forever. The road has no guardrail. It's easy for the little voices to tell you you can stop at the next turnout. But I wasn't going to stop - I could still breathe and my legs weren't aching (tired, yes, aching, no).
I tried to get a picture of the view while climbing but it didn't turn out so well...
at times the road did feel this steep!
And a little over 2 hours after we left Echo Lake, I made it to the summit, where Joe, Matt and Bryan were waiting.
cell phone camera, but that's me on the left with Bryan, Joe and Matt

and how cool is this...a 14er with a bike rack on the summit!
Bryan was getting a bit cold (it was WINDY and chilly up there!) the sign at the base when we started up at the gate read "wind chill 25.' brrrrrrr! So I quickly got on my jacket (those Girls Heart Rockets illumite jackets rock!), long fingered gloves and we headed down. The road is pretty rough so this was a slow descent for me. We stopped at Summit Lake as the lines to the bathrooms weren't as long.
Next we cruised down to Echo Lake, made another quick stop to take off some layers and get more water, then had one last climb to the top of that hill before a much more exciting descent due to the smoother roads. It still had some bumpy sections, but way better than the Mt. Evans road!
Six and a half hours later after we departed we arrived back at the cars! Successful trip! Now I know what to expect for the big day on the 28th....if I keep a steady pace and keep breathing, I won't have any trouble!


Terry Odell said...

Good luck - I still think you're nuts, but go for it.

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

Christi said...

Congratulations! You are a wild woman! I can barely do the hills in COS!

Nicole said...

Agreed, I'm nuts - but it's fun out there!
Christi - it's actually mostly a steady climb. A long climb though! :-)