Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Triple Bypass 2014

Well, the longest, hardest, most amazing ride of my life has come and gone.  I will be the first to admit I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  That being said, I think I did okay overall, but this ride is NO JOKE!  The ride's slogan is "The Triple Bypass - For those who dare."  I can now understand why that is!

I spent the week and half prior to this ride in Denver with my parents.  I did this ride with my Dad, and so we were able to get in some training rides during that time leading up to the actual ride.  We did one a week prior where we climbed the second of the three passes, Loveland Pass.  It was hard, but I felt like it was doable.  It was very similar to the ride I did up Monte Cristo in my own training.  I did notice the altitude was an issue at times, it is a lot harder to breath at 12,000 feet!  Even in my training in Utah, the highest I ever got was about 9,000 feet in my training.  Here I am in that training ride at the top of  Loveland Pass:

The following week my shoulder became more of an issue.  I am pretty sure it is not one single cause, but a combination of factors that are causing my right trapezious muscle to act up.  I think that it is riding for long periods of time in an upright position (this is a non issue in my triathlon riding when I am predominantly in aero), the fact that I tend to tense up my shoulders when I ride, and possibly a bike fit issue as well.  Anyhow, it is NOT FUN!  I found that this week that faithfully taking ibuprofen every four hours prior to and during the ride I could tolerate it. I know, I know, I am not listening to my body, I should go see a doctor, get it checked out, yada, yada, yada.  However, since this is only an issue when I ride like this, and after this I will be back to my flat land riding ways, I am not sure it is worth it to have them tell me "Ice, rest, bike fit"  My bike fit for the riding I do normally do doesn't seem to be an issue, so I took the attitude of just surviving this ride.  

The morning of the ride we got up and left the house by 4:30.  The ride  requests that you start any time between 5-8 am.  We wanted to start as early as possible, and we started around 5:20 that morning.  The first climb is about 16 miles long and it is up Squaw Pass.  I personally thought this was worse than Loveland, though many people tend to disagree.  I just hated that I was getting passed left and right.  I felt like other than the over 65 crowd, I was the slowest person on the mountain.  My Dad, who turned 62 today, smoked me.  I was completely okay with the fact he dropped me and then would wait for me at natural stops along the route.  However, I was pretty hard on myself this first climb and couldn't help but wish I was doing better.  I also started to get pretty negative and think that if I was struggling with this one, how was I supposed to do two more major climbs?  Anyhow, I was glad to get to the top.  Here is a taste of the scenery we had along the way.  I can't state enough how spectacularly beautiful this ride was.  Simply incredible.


Finally at the top of Climb #1 - Squaw Pass - only 105 miles to go!

The downhill that came after this was pretty sweet.  I topped out at 38 miles an hour.  I am kinda a downhill pansy, especially when I don't know the course.  I rode the brakes most of these as they were winding and I just couldn't see what was behind the turns, so I played it safe, but I did have fun!  It was nice to have a bit of a break to spin the legs out after the climbs.  We got into Idaho Springs and I then could recognize the route as it was the one that my Dad and I did the week prior.  I honestly think that the black path from just pass Georgetown to the base of Loveland is worse than Loveland Pass itself!  It is just more long, slow grinding up the mountain.  I was happy to get to our lunch break at the base of Loveland.  Somehow I had passed Dad, he was waiting for me, but I didn't see him and he missed me as well.  We luckily had enough cell reception to touch base and agree to meet at the lunch stop.  

When we arrived at lunch, it was starting to cool off and it was getting dark just ahead of us.  We got our sandwiches, drinks, and fruit and it started to rain and hail.  Luckily they had tents set up and we waited out the storm, and it wasn't very long.  I was SO thankful that was the only bit of bad weather we had!  Mother Nature was definitely smiling upon us today!  We headed up Loveland Pass which is about 3.5-4 miles long.  Here we are at the top, almost exactly half way through the ride!  My Dad kept telling me that the first half was a lot harder than the second half, which I was glad to hear because it was TOUGH!  Only one major climb, and a smaller one, and we were done!

The downhill after Loveland was pretty sweet.  There was some nice stretches where the road was straight and I took my hands off the brakes all together and just let Belle fly.  It was SWEET!  We then were in Keystone at the bottom of that descent and had it flat before we had to climb Swan Mountain in order to get to the next aid station at Summit High School.  This climb on its own wouldn't have been too bad, but we got a really nasty wind that just about blew me off the bike, and climbing into that was awful.  I was glad though that we just had wind, because the clouds around us didn't look pretty.  Yet, no rain!  Once we were over Swan Mountain, it was all sunny skies from there on out!  At the high school feed zone I had some more Clif Bars, refilled my Cytomax, and took a potty break.  Backing up a bit, I had left my two bottles of Perpetuem that I had premixed the night before in my parent's fridge.  About 900 calories worth of nutrition!  But, I had a ton of Shot Blocks with me, as well as Gu's, so I knew with the aid stations I would be okay, and I was.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful other than to say it was hard.  My legs were feeling like lead at this point and I wasn't looking forward to the final climb of Vail Pass.  It wasn't that  hard, mainly just gradual climbing, but there was a few parts that were pretty steep and I was so wasted at this point, I had to get off my bike and catch my breath after a few of them.  I was so thankful to hit Mile 93 where the climbing was officially done, and even though we still had 27 miles to go, it was all downhill.  We restocked at this aid station and then just wanted to get this thing done!  My Dad stayed with me this last portion.  I think he wanted to finish together, which was nice.  The final part was nice, and we flew to the finish!  Here we are, so glad to be done!

My final thoughts are many:

 1) I really wish that I had been able to do more climbing.  I did enough to survive this ride, but that was it.  I didn't really do as well as I could have had I gotten more good climbs in.  Many of them would have happened if my dang shoulder or being sick in June hadn't of happened.

  2)  This ride is no joke.  It was a very long day, but I was go glad that I did it, just so I can say that I did :)  That being said, I am in no hurry to sign up for it again.

3)  My Dad is a rock star.  Seriously.  This ride happened on his 62nd birthday, and he KILLED it.  I know that he could have finished at least an hour faster if he hadn't been waiting on me.  I am so glad to share this hobby with him and loved riding not only this ride with him, but the others that we got in during my stay there as well.  This was a day I won't soon forget and glad to have shared it with the best riding partner there is.

 4) On a less serious note, I am finding I am loving Cliff Shot Blocks, especially the Mountain Berry and Margarita flavors :)

5) I am a decent cyclist, but a really crappy climber.  I learned in training for this they are two different types of riding.  Get me on fairly flat with a few rollers where I can ride in aero, and I am most comfortable, and I can hold my own.  Put me upright and make me climb, and I am very Back of the Pack.  I am okay with that!

6) Total ride time for this was around 11 hours and 10 minutes.  I had the thought while driving home that if I can do that, I can do an Ironman.  Heck, the IM Bike portion will be cake compared to this ride! Fairly flat with a few rollers, YES PLEASE!

What's next?  This coming week I am going to take a break from biking, focus on the swim and run, and then in two weeks from now is Spudman!  So excited for another triathlon!  I haven't done one since St.  George and I am really needing a good race.  In the meantime, Happy Training and Racing all!

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