Gearing up for the Triple Bypass

James Dziezynski | Boulder Weekly


Team Evergreen’s Triple Bypass is a 120-mile road bike ride that defines “epic.”

It’s more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain over three of Colorado’s highest paved passes: Squaw (11,140 feet), Loveland (11,990 feet) and Vail (10,560 feet). There’s even the bonus elevation of Swan Mountain Road. While not an official pass, Swan Mountain still climbs to 9,388 feet. The strange thing about this veritable lung-busting tour is how quickly the event fills up. The July 9 running of the classic westward route from Evergreen to Avon is already filled to capacity, with a whopping 3,500 entries. That’s roughly 7,000 individual lungs (we assume) burning in the thin air, cruising for glory and bragging rights. (Triple Bypass events are rides, not races.) The good news, if you’re up for a little suffering and a lot of incredible mountain scenery, is that there are now two alternatives to be part of all the quad-fizzling fun.

New options for 2011

An experimental new ride for this year is the Double Triple Bypass. The Double Triple takes two days to ride the entire course as a huge, 240-mile, out-and-back ride that equates to more than 20,000 feet of climbing in less than 48 hours. Being in Colorado, where our cyclists are cut from a different swath of lycra, of course there was a rabid waitlist, and the event filled to capacity at 500 riders. Registration for the Double Triple is now closed.
The second new ride, which as of press time still has a few precious openings, is the East Triple Bypass, which simply takes the course from Avon to Evergreen and runs on Sunday, July 10. It’s the same terrain as the classic, but backwards, so you’re going to get all the same heart-pumping thrills as you cruise into the morning sunrise. With a total rider capacity of 2,500, the inaugural eastbound route is sure to gain in popularity once cyclists are aware they have yet another outlet to spend more time in the saddle.
As Team Evergreen expands its marquee event to accommodate more than 6,000 riders, it’s safe to say the Triple Bypass has become one of Colorado’s flagship cycling events. You can sign up for the East Triple Bypass by visiting the official Team Evergreen Triple Bypass web page at www.

A history of burly rides

The 23-year history of the Triple Bypass begins in 1988, when a small group of 300 cyclists started what was then called the Rocky Mountain Century. As the event evolved, it adopted its clever moniker and became a yearly tradition in the high peaks. And being a mountain ride, there have been years when rain, sleet and even snow has been part of the ambiance. Of course, there are also crystal-clear, bluebell days when nary a cloud casts a shadow on the entire route. The unpredictability is part of the fun! Because the event is not officially timed, there are no concrete results, but cyclists can expect to spend anywhere between eight and 12 hours on the bike. It is highly encouraged to spend time cranking out miles at altitude before the day of the race (the 7,900foot climb up Mount Evans is a noted training ride). If you are riding from Boulder, a trip up Left Hand Canyon to Ward then down to Lyons — and repeat — is close to mimicking the elevation gain and distance. And if you have friends coming to do the ride from out of town, let them know that losing a few dozen brains cells from the lack of oxygen are acceptable losses for flatlanders.

Race day mentality

Gearing up for any century ride is as much mental as it is physical. Even though the listed start time is 6 a.m. both days, it’s not unusual for riders to begin their ride at their own time, usually no later than 7:30 a.m. The climb up the trio of mountain passes is a combination of grueling effort, enchanting scenery and trance-like hypnotism. Aid stations are wellstocked, and it’s encouraged to fuel up as much as possible, as riders will be burning a ridiculous amount of calories — 5,000-plus for some folks. A good training program is encouraged starting six months in advance, but if you are a fairly active person, a few weeks of sincere training should see you through the entire 120-mile course.

And perhaps that’s the beauty of the Triple Bypass: It’s an epic feather in the cap for anyone with the desire to put in the miles and time. While there are certainly elite riders who participate, the scope of success falls within the frame of an “everyman” goal. There’s still time if you want to push yourself and join in the fun of Colorado’s most hearty — pun intended — cycling tour.