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CRMBT: Day 3. MT EVANS!?!?!?!?!

So, here I am, day 3 of the tour and the climb up Mt. Evans. The one I have been dreading, I mean anticipating.

Mt. Evans is a 14'er. That means making it to the top would be 2,000 feet more climbing than I have ever done and considering that that climb was just on Tuesday... not to mention that the climb would be at 14,000 feet and I was told one of the real challenges would be the thinness of the air. Oh, and did I mention we were starting somewhere around 7,000 feet? But, I was promised beauty beyond belief and getting to see long-horned sheep in their natural habitat. Ok, I can do this. Bring it on.

The day started off, and stayed, pretty much by myself. Sue and I were staying outside of town and by the time we got bussed back, Jane, Joan and Bill had left. Sue and I didn't bike the same pace, so after a warm-up, we quickly split up.

The climb from Idaho Springs to Echo Lake was 13 miles. About 6 miles in I saw this sign.In case you can't read it, it says: Sharp Curves - Steep Grade - Next 7 miles. Just what I need. :) So, I plug along, remembering that (in all) it is a 28 mile climb... if I get to the top of Mt. Evans.
How I am feeling. I didn't say this was easy.

But, 13 miles in, I come to Echo Lake. Very beautiful.
Yes, I am aware this is not straight, I was riding and taking pictures. That's what I do.

And then I have a decisions to make:Go up Mt. Evans or continue on? I stopped briefly at the aid station to refill. I talked to one guy who had climbed Mt. Evans a lot and he told me "the first 3-4 miles are like what we just did, then you get above treeline and there are long, windy switchbacks. About mile 8 you hit Summit Lake and if you get that far... you're going to the top." He also said with the weather, there are probably only about 30% of the days you can get to the top-- and this was one of them! With that knowledge and encouragement, I quickly got out of there. I knew if I waited too long, I would decide just to carry on and skip the next 14 miles of up, up, up-- now what fun would that be?

So, I did it. Slow and steady. It was long, hard and what I didn't plan for was the terrain at the top, top. As you got closer, it only got steeper. Now, intellectually, that would make sense, but taking into account what my new aid station friend had said... he fooled me! But that was ok, by the time I realized it, I was almost there and I could make it. Here are some picts from the climb:
Jill climb, climb, climbing. (Below treeline)

Notice, no guardrails. Anywhere. Would not want to be up here when it is windy.

No way to go but up!


At the top, I saw Jane and Bill and numerous other riders. Everyone was elated, a little woozy (including myself), and I think just happy to be off their bikes. The last few miles I didn't feel as if I could take on any calories, but now that I had stopped riding, I gulped down a whole bottle of Gatorade and tried to stomach some nuts (didn't work). The views were marvelous and you could see so much beautiful terrain AND a view of Denver. No way! Very cool.
After just a little bit, it was time to head down. I got in my big ring and off I went. Coming down was a very technical descent, especially with NO guardrails and it was so, so cold. Stopped quickly at the aid station to have the mechanic look at my bike and then off to do more climbing. Just what I (didn't) want. But that was ok. It was only a little climb up Squaw Pass, then a long descent-- my reward for a long day. Then it was into Evergreen and over Lookout Mountain and into Golden and we were "home" for the night.

I was happy to see Sue when I checked in. She was having hip issues and had opted not to climb Mt. Evans, but she had, had a very delightful day none-the-less, taking in the scenery on Squaw Pass. That night we hung in Golden, enjoyed the first night of great weather and soaked up the city that toted Buffalo Bill Cody as their own.
Aren't we cute?