Sunday, July 10, 2011

Triple Bypass 2011: ups and downs

In 2005, I was done with running and had been doing more road biking. I entered the Triple Bypass ride with Catherine and my brother-in-law, and had a good time - I think it took me maybe nine hours, Catherine about ten, and brother-in-law stopped at Loveland. Later he told us that was the day he decided to get fitter, and has since transformed into a monster ultra-marathoner/Hardrock finisher.

I didn't keep up with road riding, opting instead for a training regimen consisting largely of working at a desk - sometimes it works. Time passes, I get creakier, and after commute-riding to Boulder occasionally last year, I really haven't ridden my new-ish road bike much.

Which turns out to be a bad idea because due to circumstances outside my control I ended up with a free entry to the Triple this year. And thus, at 5:30 in the morning I headed up towards Squaw Pass wondering how it would feel. The answer is okay, and actually pretty good, but I don't have a low enough gear so I strained my knee a touch.

Otherwise my thoughts on the Triple are generally the same as last time:

-The Triple is really quite beautiful, and Team Evergreen will sell out the ride until the end of time. Could they improve the ride? Absolutely. It makes no sense that a ride that takes most people all day has no hot food at the aid stations - or no food at all if they're slow. No fun along the route - like a band or something? And no free beer anymore? That's horrible. I still love their ugly ride jerseys, though. Every year they're ugly, but each year is ugly in it's own way. In the past few years it looks like they're trying a subdued orangish color scheme to no avail.

-There are a lot of good cyclists in Colorado. A lot. This time around, I was heading up Vail Pass about the time as the quick-ish recreational riders - they started at a more civilized time (an hour or two after me), and slowly churned past in their little team groups. It was a slow progression of very, very expensive bicycles ridden by (mostly) men with very large quads. How many hundreds of fine carbon fiber top-of-the-line bikes did I see? It's amazing, and somewhat guilt-inducing. Wouldn't all that money be better spent elsewhere? How much non-recyclable carbon fiber is going into all those bikes?

-I was equally impressed at all the creaky and sore strong riders with large quads lounging around at the top of Vail Pass next to their expensive carbon fiber bikes. It's a hard ride, period, and Vail Pass is the worst part. Really, I just don't like the part from the Summit-Co high school to the base of the pass. It's largely uphill and just a grind.

-I rode the Triple like I would run/walk an ultra - spending relatively little time at the aid stations and just trying to get over the passes. I did this in order to beat the rain, which I did, and rode it in about the same time as 2005. However, this isn't the style/form of the Triple, which is (at least for the large-quad men) to blast between aid stations, and then relax at the girlfriends'/spouses'/friends' cars for awhile, sipping recovery beverages and remarking on the epic pace. This makes a certain amount of sense, at least if the girlfriends/spouses/friends don't mind. It did get annoying, however, to get passed by the same guys over and over again. In the end I think the "Sweat Equity" guys from Crested Butte passed me five times.

-Cycling is just so much less impactive than running. It's amazing for me. If I ran a marathon yesterday, I'd hobble around for a week. Instead, I feel pretty much fine today (except for the sore knee, which is my own fault).

-Like last time, we formed little pace-lines from Vail Pass to the end. Big fun. Unlike last time, I actually took some pulls.

Will I ride it again? No - I really don't see that happening. But that's what I said last time, too - and in 2005 they even had free beer at the end.

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