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Mt. Evans recon report(16 posts)

Mt. Evans recon reportlonefrontranger
Jul 16, 2003 5:26 PM
Okay, so this isn't really a RACE report, but I will be doing this event in two weeks, and several of you requested the feedback on the recon ride.

Only a couple of the pics turned out, as we had a problem with our cheapo disposable camera.

On July 4th, I and several friends and teammates rode from Idaho Springs to the summit of Mt. Evans, along with apparently several hundred of our compatriots. It was cool to see so many riders tackling this thing. 28 miles, 6000' of climbing, the summit is over 14,000'. One girl stopped at Summit Lake due to altitude sickness; fortunately we had my SO driving support for these sorts of eventualities.

The day was hot and fine, with not as much wind as I understand is typical. Temperature at 9.30 AM in Idaho Springs was climbing into the high 80's and would top out near 100.

The climb itself is quite steady. The first five or six miles is a long, hot canyon drag on heavy chipseal roads. We spun our way up this, and I found myself glad we'd ordered full zip jerseys this season. After mile six, you start hitting the switchbacks, and get into some good pine-forest riding. The only problem was the many, many black flies. Some serious bug repellent is going in my kit for race day, let me tell you. My friend Amanda (the tall girl on the right) said she was nearly crashing from swatting at the stinging nuisances, and I had some pretty squirrelly moments myself. They hurt almost as much as a bee sting when they bite, and they cling and cling and won't leave off. Of course it doesn't help that you are going maybe only 8mph and can't outrun them...

Some more welcome wildlife sightings than the black flies were many, many colorful butterflies along the route. I saw a big black one with magenta hindwings that I've never seen before. I also saw a teeny tiny bright green snake sunning itself on the verge, and zipped off into the weeds as I approached.

It's too bad the pics didn't come out, because as you wind your way up the switches, there's a new panorama around every turn. As you crest out of the first section and come around the ridge, there's a wonderful view of the summit frowning down on you, and the thought crosses your mind "I'm going up THERE?"

I kept myself steady at just below LT, and was glad to hit the slight flat spot at Echo Lake. There was a lot of holiday traffic, and my SO met me at the gates with a park pass handup (you must purchase a $5 pass to continue to the summit; cheap enough entertainment in my book).
to the summitlonefrontranger
Jul 16, 2003 6:01 PM
After turning into the gates past Echo Lake on the road which leads to the summit, the road steepens a bit, but you are rewarded with cooling alpine breezes. I was beginning to notice my respiration rate was increasing as my sustainable HR decreased, but I was still feeling good and not overwhelmed on my 39/25 max gear.

The park road narrows a bit, but the traffic was reasonable and respectful of cyclists. We got cheers from several passengers as we climbed. The only other time I can remember being cheered on a climb by car drivers was on Alpe d'Huez over a decade ago. My legs like the Evans climb a lot better.

Soon after the turn onto the park road, you climb out above treeline and begin to encounter the vast barren taiga of the high alpine desert. I saw pikas and birds I didn't recognise. Our group was strung out along the climb by this time with me chugging along somewhere in the middle. I didn't feel terribly pegged, but was determined to make it to the summit, so I kept it in an easy gear and took in the incredible scenery. It was a crystal clear day, and on the front side, you can see all the way to Kansas. I watched an eagle soar out over the valley below me and felt right with the world.

I climbed and chatted a bit with a girl who was also doing recon for the race. We both joked about being non-climbers and encouraged each other along. When we hit the descent to Summit Lake, she waved 'bye and stopped for a jacket from her boyfriend's car, as he was also driving sag. Seems like it was ladies' day on the mountain. I took a feed from my SO and continued on. There was a guy I'd been pacing for miles and I was slowly reeling him in. Fairly certain I could catch him, we entered the switches...

Talk about moonscapes! Once you hit the final switches, you are in a vast, barren wasteland of boulders and dirty, leftover snowbanks with the odd mountain goat scrapping for whatever grows. The traffic (bicycle, motorcycle and automobile) seemed to increase a hundredfold, and I concentrated on maintaining my pace and holding my line. I finally reeled in the fellow I'd been chasing, and we nodded to each other as I passed, both too breathless to speak. The wind picked up, and I found myself wondering when this might end. Switchback after switchback, each rougher than the last. None incredibly steep, but at this point my respiration rate and sustainable MHR were approaching each other on the bell curve. Finally, after what seemed an eternity of switches going on and on up into the midnight blue sky, I rounded the last bend and popped out into the summit overlook.

I parked the bike to wait for my SO. From 90* at the base, the temperature dropped to 40* with raging wind off the ice fields at the summit, and I now wished I'd picked up my long sleeve jersey at the feed. Fortunately at that altitude, the sun is strong, so I sat in the warm lee shelter of the overlook wall breathing very fast and providing impromptu entertainment for an elderly Japanese couple who seemed eager to take pictures of crazy cyclists. The guy I'd passed rolled up and we talked of our expectations for the race until my SO showed up. We rounded up the group, chattered a bit with some other racers we knew, and snapped off a couple last pics. My time was a blazingly unimpressive 3:20, but I finished the climb strong and could walk around without passing out so I was well pleased. The girls took the car, and my SO and I piled on every scrap of kit we had and swept off down the descent back to Idaho Springs.
Cool Pict. makes you feel on top of the world wow.........abicirider
Jul 16, 2003 6:12 PM
Just curious are you using a 39 or 38 up front for small chain ring also what are you running in back 11-28 or?
Best of luck come race day, bet you are cursing your coach up and down lol.
Be Safe Out On The Roads!!!!!!!!
Ray Still
Mooresville, NC
39 x 25lonefrontranger
Jul 17, 2003 7:31 PM
The climb never gets very steep. I think the max gradient is about 8% or something like that. I was using the 23 and 21 a lot and didn't have to use the 25 as much as I'd expected.
Why not run the 13x26 for Evans? (nm)ColnagoFE
Jul 21, 2003 8:32 AM
because I don't have onelonefrontranger
Jul 23, 2003 5:40 AM
That pattern only sells in true Campag cassettes and we run conversions on Shimano bodies. Neither Wheels nor American Classic sells a 13-26 pattern.

The other reason is that I quite frankly don't need it. Evans is, as many others have noted, not that steep. The 25 was more than sufficient on the recon. I spent most of my time in the 19 and 23, and I wasn't trying to go very fast.

I climbed SuperJames to Peak to Peak on the 25 on Saturday, as a non-roadie friend borrowed the Morgul and my climbing wheelset. If I can climb SuperJames in the 25, then I don't need a 26 or 27 for Evans.
you look skinnyDougSloan
Jul 17, 2003 6:38 AM
Wow, you look like you are in fine racing form. Good pic.

Good luck on the race.

thanks but I think it's just good kit and camera angleslonefrontranger
Jul 17, 2003 7:50 PM
I'm still looking pretty solid in the racing shots I posted below, a skinsuit never lies. Our long sleeve jerseys are very well tailored and the pattern was designed to minimize the hips.

Speaking of team kit, the guys who did our stuff this year deserve a lot of props. I won't get blatantly commercial here, but anyone in search of info, raves and referrals for next year, e-mail me: I think the distributor lurks here quite a bit.
Jul 17, 2003 10:08 AM
so 39x25 was adequate for you ? good to know. I think I'll still get a 28 or 30 rear for next year.

As I came down that hill with the rest of the Triple Bypass thundering herd, we saw at least a dozen riders going up. I wonder how it compares to the Loveland climb from Idaho Springs ? guess I'll find out one day..
Actually makes climbing sound like fun!CritLover
Jul 16, 2003 7:52 PM
Having yet to do any climbs over 5 miles, I can't imagine what it's like to get yourself up that high. What a rush! Or is that from the lack of oxygen? Who cares about the time, it is quite impressive to do that kind of climb at all!

Hey, LFT, I'll be out in CO the first week in September, maybe we could hook up for a ride! But please, no climbs... I'm a sea level kinda gal, and I don't think the altitude likes me!

Good luck on the race!
first week in Sept, eh?lonefrontranger
Jul 17, 2003 5:17 AM
That would be the weekend of the Gore Pass RR, if memory serves... (evil grin)

Actually there are a lot of great rides here in the Denver/Boulder area. If you're going to be anywhere around Boulder, mail me and we'll hook up:

There's plenty of riding that doesn't involve a LOT of climbing, but there are hills on almost every ride. When I first moved out here I thought it would darn near kill me, but I got better. Just leave the flatlander gearing at home. Almost everyone here runs a 39/25 or 27 (even the guy racers do).

You would like some of the canyon climbs I think. They're long, gentle and very scenic. They positively beg you to ride slow and look around a lot.
Mother! (in Daffy Duck voice)CritLover
Jul 17, 2003 7:02 PM
I tried the Estes Park stage race two years ago... big mistake. I couldn't breathe at that altitude, it was horrible. I also pulled every muscle in my chest from breathing so hard- not smart to race at 7000 feet after only acclimating for two weeks.

I'll be staying in Greeley which is pretty close, so you can give me the scenic tour if we hook up. The canyons sound great! I think I'll pass on the Gore Pass RR- I can just imagine myself yucking on the side of the road. Maybe, next vacation.

Will be in touch- good luck!
I rode Evans on July 3rd...PT
Jul 17, 2003 9:25 AM
I think I actually had better weather than you, as it wasn't so blazing hot yet in Idaho Springs and it wasn't so windy up on top. But then I'm from Wyoming and it takes a serious blow to register with anyone from my region.

I found the initial canyon out of Idaho Springs to be the most painful, as it begged me to go faster than I should have. The next toughest section was the top - duh! - mostly due to the altitude and the optical illusion of how close the summit is/isn't.

Why didn't you do the descent? 2 hours and 50 minutes to the top for me, about 55 minutes for the descent, and most of that coasting! I probably had less traffic than you -- it wouldn't have been so much fun with traffic.

I won't be doing the race (conflict with Tour de Wyoming -- a family friendly bike tour) and I don't think I'll miss it -- it would be seriously painful to try and ride that thing fast. I don't envy you. I have a local cat 1 friend who has done the race in something just shy of 2 hours. I can't imagine the pain it would take to get my time down close to 2:30!
my SO and I did the descent as welllonefrontranger
Jul 17, 2003 7:29 PM
The girls took the car (Ford Exploder) back down. We couldn't take our minivan to do sag as it has developed a bit of Old Car syndrome (7 years old, 152,000 miles of being driven by bike racers; some of the relays are getting flaky) and we didn't want to push it on the climb at slow speeds in that heat.

The descent was actually more painful than the climb. My back and shoulders got really sore from all the climbing, then the long descent. Plus I froze my *** off for the first few miles.
2:30 won't get you jack in Pro 1/2ColnagoFE
Jul 21, 2003 8:35 AM
I think the winning time is usually around 1:45-50. You might crack top 10 in Cat 4 with a 2:30. My best was the 1st year I did it. SOmething like 2:35 and I've been getting slower since that! I think I was around 1:45-50 last year.
i meant 2:45-50! my bad... (nm)ColnagoFE
Jul 21, 2003 8:39 AM