Great event. Perfect weather. Dead tired legs before the start of my ride.
We had visitors. My wife's brother came out to hike and her 63 year old uncle wanted to come out and do some riding with me. I was already on the hook for the Copper Triangle and thus, he signed up to ride it. Not with me but he'd get his riding in. We hiked our tails off in Crested and the Vail Valley, showing our guests some of our favorite trails. By Thursday, my legs felt spent. Really spent. Ahh well. The Colorado Triangle isn't a race, but this was my first organized road ride in over 15 years and I wanted it to go well.
We rented a condo in Copper Mountain which turned out to be right at the start and finish line. Very convenient. Riding could start as early as 545 with lights on the bikes and as late as 800. We needed to get rolling early to be off the course before temps hit the 80s in Vail and this was the uncle's longest ever and highest ride. Fremont tops out at over 11,000 feet. We decided on 645 as our go time.
I woke up early and walked down to the starting line to see what was going on between 530-545. It wasn't what I'd expected. Just about 15 people with lights on their bikes waiting to go and a handful of others waiting for daylight. Most of the activity was focused on packet pickup. I'd had mine mailed in advance but the morning pickup looked to be dialed in. The Colorado Cyclist tent was open for business to help anyone out that forgot this or that.
We hit the start area at around 630 and rolled out on time. The temp was about 40 degrees and the amount that people were bundled up varied. I had on my standard summer gear with the addition of a riding jacket. For the first 15 minutes I took it easy, just spinning along to get in a proper warm up in before setting my pace. Then I kicked up from the 39 to the 53 and cruised up the pass, slowing to refuel where this video stops.
I was moving pretty well considering that my legs felt very fatigued, especially the hamstrings. I wanted to get up Fremont pretty quick, then recover and once we made the turn onto 24. Once on 24 I just spun along for the most part. I made a shift at Camp Hale and my chain dropped off during a shallow descent. I coasted into one of the pullouts and took this forced stop as an opportunity to lose the jacket and grab another bite to eat. The weather was truly perfect. As a local, I knew how lucky we all were. We had no winds to battle, no threatening clouds and the temps were mild. Any visitors from the east were probably in heaven with the mild, low humidity day.
Once in Vail, the temps had come up enough to be something of a factor. It was just a little warm but otherwise, still perfect weather. Still no big headwinds to deal with. I knew at some point that all the hiking I'd done would catch up to me and it did in Vail. I knew I'd be climbing Vail Pass slower than I wanted to so I dialed it back to save some energy for the top segment, which is the hardest. I slowed for a few riders that looked to be hurting and helped them out a little bit. This helped to ensure that I'd have enough in the tank to be able to kick it up a few notches after the bike path crosses under the interstate(called "the wall" by locals). For those of you who haven't been there , it's very deceiving. You climb, climb, climb and at one point the bike path shoots down and you go zipping almost blindly through the trees as the path brings you to the south side of the interstate. As soon as you cross under the interstate there's a hard blind turn to the left and the trial kicks back up toward the sky, but this time steeper than ever. It'll catch the unsuspected in the wrong gear and perhaps even in the wrong ring. It slows you down so fast that you could even just fall over in that situation. Luckily, this hard kick is only a few hundred feet at most. I hit this section just right, jumping out of the saddle to cover this steep pitch quickly and get up to slightly shallower grades with some momentum. The top of the pass came soon after and I stopped to turn the camera back on for the run into Copper Mountain. Shortly after this next video ends, I get caught up behind an ambulance on the bottom of the bike path. I arrived shortly after they had closed the back doors. I rolled along very slowly behind them to the bottom of the bike path. No room for passing and I'm not even sure how they got the thing up to whatever had happened.
I guess I'd hit the east side of the pass with perfect timing. I kept my speed in the sensible range but never really had to slow for anyone. Coming into the finish line area was a bit of a shock. It was lined with what seemed like hundreds of people, yelling and clapping for finishers. I dropped the bike off in the room and hit the lunch. There were two drawings for gear but I didn't get involved with that so I don't know what they were giving away. Probably some good stuff. The event raised $150k for the Davis Phinney Foundation. That's a great one-day haul for a non-profit charity.
I'll likely be back for next year. I finished in 5 hours flat, including the warm up, all stops and the snag behind the ambulance. Next year I'll be sure to hit the starting line fresh and something in the low 4 hour range will be cake.
Next up is the Leadville 100...as in Saturday.