Colorado Bound!

In a couple days I will be flying to Colorado. We’re visiting my wife’s best friend from high school. They have a place in Denver and Breckenridge, and are graciously hosting us for ten days. We expect to have a great time. We’re already planning to visit a couple breweries, see a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and I’m sure we’ll eat our weight in the local cuisine.

Our friends are also being great sports about accommodating my cycling addiction. In fact, when they offered this last year, they suggested we schedule the vacation date around a cycling event. That turned out to be Copper Triangle.

My bike is already waiting for me in Golden, CO. I’ve been researching the local cycling opportunities, all of which seem amazing, and have a rough idea where I’ll be riding.

We are arriving Friday afternoon. I’ll pick up the bike on Saturday morning in Golden. Since it is being re-built, I’ll need to ride around the block to make sure everything works out. It turns out there’s a popular climb, Lookout Mountain, not far from the shop’s doorstep. I believe it is around 4-5 miles and not too steep. I’ll ride up and down, just to get a feel for the bike and to loosen up my legs.

Sunday morning will be the big test. I will be riding with a small group from Idaho Springs to the top of Mount Evans. This is the highest paved road in the United States at above 14,000 feet. It should be an epic climb, where I will gain 7,000 feet of altitude in 28 miles. Honestly, it is what I am most nervous about. One of my concerns is how I will handle the altitude. I sleep every night at 300 feet here in South Carolina. When I attempt Evans, I’ll have slept at 6,000 feet for a couple nights. Moving up to 14,000 is a different feat entirely. I’m going to be taking some altitude medication and riding at a leisurely pace.

The next day, assuming we are acclimated, we will move from Denver to Breckenridge, where we should stay for the rest of the trip. During the week I’ll take my bike out for short trips of maybe an hour or two, just enough to see the beautiful sights, while not too much to burn out my legs. The climb to Hoosier Pass is nearby, and will probably be the first one I’ll try. Not too much further are Fremont Pass, Independence Pass, Loveland Pass, and several other climbs. They appear to have an active cycling club, who I may try to ride with while in the area.

The signature climb of the area is Vail Pass, but I will probably wait for Copper Triangle before attempting that one. It is a lengthy climb, not too steep, all on a paved bike path. It’ll be a blast trying this climb along with 3,000 other riders.

The one issue with Copper Triangle is that a massive, 100 foot sinkhole has opened up on Highway 24 from Leadville. This is at a crucial section of the route. Currently the road is closed indefinitely for repair. The organizers have an alternate route in mind, but are optimistic that the original route will be ready in time. The sinkhole is being repaired right now, and hopefully will be finished soon. Either way, I’m not going to complain about whatever climbs they throw at me. It’s all a vacation for me.


12 responses to “Colorado Bound!

  • Tom Clayton

    Hey Aaron, I did ride out there a long time ago. One thing I do remember was being short of breath. Be careful, most of all enjoy!

  • stickyjumper

    You probably already know this, but the temperature difference between Idaho Springs and the top of Mt Evans is likely to be drastic. The last time I made the drive, the temp at the bottom was mid 70’s and it was snowing at the summit. Dress accordingly :).

    Sounds like an awesome vacation and I hope you have a blast.

    • aaronwest

      So I have heard. I’m going to break my cardinal rule and bring a backpack of sorts up with me. It’ll have some extra water (the altitude meds will make me dehydrated), food, and layers. Most likely I will wear my windbreaker, arm warmers and leg warmers on the way down. Will be praying for no snow or anything like it.

  • bobissett

    Sounds like you’ll be gettin’ it the whole time. Enjoy every bit of it!!!!

  • Wade otey

    Please post Strava routes if you can, my son lives in Ft. Collins and snickers at my trips up Mitchell. Hope to ride with him out there soon.

    • aaronwest

      Definitely. I’ll probably be writing a lot while I’m out there and will compare the Colorado vs Blue Ridge climbs. From what I’ve heard, the hills here are a lot steeper. You should challenge him to try Mitchell sometime. That’s a tough climb no matter what city or country you live.

  • suzecycling

    Sounds like a fabulous trip … great climbing in gorgeous country with family friends and food. Have a blast! But save some time to post do we can read as you pedal.

  • roberthurst

    Sounds like a great trip… You’ll probably be all right with the altitude, but if not you’ll feel nauseous and headachy. Drink a lot of water, take it slow. Also, make sure you have cold weather gear for that climb of Evans, even if it’s 90 degrees in Idaho Springs.

    Enjoy your vacation!

    Robert

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Robert. I’ve learned my lesson from other cold descents. Will be carrying a tote with warmer clothes and will probably change at the top. I’ll hydrate like crazy and take it very slow.

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