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    6th September 2007

    Another summer highlight…

    I’m going to count Labor Day as sort of the end of summer, because Labor Day was a bit of a highlight for me. Nick and I went down to Idaho Springs and rode up Mt. Evans, Nick on his bicycle and me on the old handcycle.

    The summit of Mt. Evans is 14,135 feet above sea level, and the road to the top of it is the highest paved road in North America. It is one of the two Colorado fourteeners with a road to the summit that can be navigated with a conventional vehicle – Pikes Peak is the other , but the road at the top isn’t paved. (A fourteener is a mountain above 14,000 ft; Colorado has between 54 and 56 of them, depending on how you count them).

    Each year there is a bicycle race to the top of Mt. Evans that starts in Idaho Springs, travelling 27 miles horizontally – and 6580 feet vertically – to the summit of the mountain. This has also become a popular weekend ride for Colorado cyclists, both because of the challenge of the climb and the extraordinary views at every corner. Nick had been wanting to do the ride for a while, and figured that Labor Day would be a good chance to do so.

    I decided that it might be a fun challenge for me as well, so I called up my friend Drew Wills who I knew had handcycled the route earlier this summer. He advised me to start by Echo Lake, about 13 miles into the ride. This was where he and three other handcyclists had started earlier in the summer – and it still took them about 3 hours to make the 14.5 miles (and 3500 feet of net elevation gain – closer to 3800 gross gain) to the summit from there!

    I figured that I’m probably not in as good of shape as any of the guys that Drew was riding with (they’re all pretty hardcore) and so it would take me a little longer than 3 hours to make it from that point – and even longer if I were to start from 27 miles out!

    Labor Day morning, we made it to Echo Lake at 7:15 am, and the clouds were looking a little threatening, with small spurts of rain, so Nick decided to start at Echo Lake as well, even though he was planning on going to whole way (and was certainly capable of doing so). I was a little glad that he decided to start there because I was a little nervous about dealing with traffic. (I immediately realized that traffic would be fine and sent Nick on his way to ride at his own, faster pace).

    After an hour of riding I was around the 5 mile mark and feeling pretty good. I stopped to eat a granola bar and a bunch of Swedish fish. After 2 hours I was still feeling pretty good, up by Summit Lake and near the 10 mile mark. I kept eating granola bars and Swedish fish and drinking water – I didn’t really ever feel a lack of energy throughout the ride. But shortly after that 10 mile mark my arms started to feel heavy and slow and less powerful. This was more fatigue than lack of sugar energy, and by the time I was in the last couple miles, making switchback after switchback… Oh man, that was a lot of work. During the last two miles I probably stopped to eat/drink/rest more times than I had the whole way previous… But I finally made it to the parking lot on top where a guy with a video camera filmed me coming up the last couple turns and then did a little interview for some promotional video he was making for Clear Creek County. We’ll see if I make it in there someday.

    Then came the easy part. Or the terrifying part depending on how you look at it.

    Going down.

    So, going down some of those hills, I probably could have gotten up to speeds over 40 miles per hour. I tried to keep it around 20-25 mph, but even so it was pretty nerve-wrecking at parts: The road was fairly seriously banked and warped in some places, there were strong gusts of wind, cars full of tourists going up and down the mountain… and there were 1000 foot drop-offs with no guardrails all the way down (they weren’t all 100o feet, but the point is there were some serious death opportunities).

    Again, we made it, and it was awesome (my mom said she was glad she didn’t think about us going downhill until after we had come back). And we were tired.

    And life was good.


    3 Responses to “Another summer highlight…”

    1. Mike-e says:

      Dude just so you realize how terrified i get just thinking about you going downhill anywhere on your bike…it is seriously a fear of mine, and every time i ride with you and we are going downhill or whatever, i am always secretly freaking out. Ever since that time you got destroyed, i think being behind you and seeing the whole thing happen has actually traumatized me a decent amount…kind of wierd. Anyway, glad it was a safe trip though anyway.

    2. Kimmy DV says:

      That sounds really fun. Did you take any pictues? If you did you should post them.

    3. Mike-e says:

      Sup bra’. Got some more posts on my site finally haha.

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    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.