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Triple Bypass

Ahhh... the Triple. When we were making our race schedule for this year and I really wanted to do Comrades (Ross didn't), so I told him to pick an event we could do together and he picked the Triple Bypass. 120 miles over 3 mountain passes. That's 10,000+ feet of climbing all at between 7,000-12,000 feet altitude. Oy vey!

Knowing I would have Ross' support for Comrades, I agreed to the Triple. Due to logistics, we decided that he would ride the first day and I the second. (This is the first year they were doing a back-to-back ride, so Ross rode Evergreen-->Avon, while I rode Avon-->Evergreen.) 

Saturday Ross was up on his way. He had a great ride, enjoying himself along the way. After a morning of fun here, I took the kids up to Avon to watch their daddy finish. I do regret not researching the route a little more and being able to see him along the way. When I asked, Ross said that he just wanted us at the finish line to "have something to shoot for". Still, I think it would have helped for us to be along the way.
Ross enjoying his ride along the way!
Sunday came around, I was up, dressed and ready to go. Then we went out to the car... it was raining. And cold. NO! Ugh! As we drove from Vail to Avon, it only rained harder. Great. I hadn't planned for this. This is going to be miserable, I thought. We hung out at the start and I contemplated not going. Really, I did. The volunteer said the forecast was scattered showers all day with thunderstorms in Evergreen. Great, now I really was not going. Then I thought about a group of friends who earlier this summer rode over Trail Ridge Road IN. THE. SNOW. Yes they did. It even made it on the news.
Them riding up Trail Ridge Road in snow
If they can do that, I can at least start in the rain and see where the day takes me.
How my day started
2.5 miles in the day took me to cold, wet, chilled, eyes-watering from the wind and I flatted. Man, what a way to start. And this wasn't even my idea! I called Ross in frustration, told him I flatted and he asked if I wanted him to come pick me up and call it a day. Nope. I changed my flat and was on my way. (Side note: both race people/support and other riders offered much help. That was a high point. Me not accepting it and doing it on my own, another high point.)

Off on my way again, plugging along. The day was starting to get nicer. The rain stopped. I was still wet and chilled, but the wind was starting to air it out a bit.
The sun starting to pop out
I reached back for one of my pb&j sammies (my riding nutrition staple), there were none! They must've fallen out of my jersey pocket. Ugh! I got almost to the top of Vail pass and... another flat. Seriously? So, I stopped, changed that. Now I was out of tubes and CO2. I wondered if I should call it quits at the top of Vail Pass for fear of flatting again and getting stuck. But, knowing that there was excellent support on the course, I knew that would be a cowardly way out.

I got to the top of Vail Pass (no pb&j at aid station- sad) and looked forward to the downhill. One pass at a time, I thought. I can make it to the bottom of Loveland and reassess. Made it there, then halfway up the pass to a water stop. Refilled and received encouraging words from other riders (also looking to pump themselves up, you could tell). "I hear if you make it here, you are good" and "Weather is looking great for the rest of the day". At this point, I didn't care if they were all lies, I didn't. I just wanted to believe them.
Heading up to Loveland
Starting to smile... Last pict I got of the day- camera battery done.
At the top of Loveland, I got a few texts. Nina asking me if I wanted her to come and get me (I had texted her I was struggling when she wanted to know where I was) and Ross telling me he was at the next aid station. I texted Nina back to thanks her and let her know I had Ross to get me if I needed it.

The following aid station was the *big* aid station with actual food, sandwiches, muscle milk, etc. I had a full turkey sandwich and hung out with Ross and the boys for a little bit. Not long, but enough to get me back in good spirits. The next aid station had pizza. PIZZA! Now, I (as I am sure many of you) have read Ultra-marathon Man and when Dean Karnazes talks about eating pizza in the middle of a long, long run, I can't fathom the idea. But for some reason at that point PIZZA is what sounded like the best thing in the world. And the other riders concurred. We started praising the volunteers, telling them they were getting our vote for 'best aid station', and they loved it. I even went back for a second piece.

So, as I was riding down to Idaho Springs, I found my happy place. My really, really happy place. I was full, energized, I had seen my boys, knew I was going to finish it. Everything. Then it started raining... I mean thunderstorming... HARD. Ugh! Earlier in the day I had told myself that if it started thunderstorming, I was bagging it. No use riding in the cold, wet, with a chance of getting struck by lightning. Now, I was telling myself I am doing this EVEN in the thunderstorm. I might sag down from the top (afraid of descending a mountain in the rain-- really unsafe), but I was getting to the top even if I had to suffer in the rain the whole way. I was. 

Word to the Wise: When caught in a thunderstorm in the mountains, seek shelter and wait for it to stop. I didn't, and wish I had. I saw others do it. Smarties.

By the time I got through Idaho Springs the rain had stopped and it was time to climb! 16 miles to the top. I was at mile 92. To put that in perspective, I had already done almost a century that included 2 mountains and now I was going to do the longest pass of the day.  Just keep trucking, I told myself.

It was a long, slow climb, but I felt good doing it. It seems that I tend to draw strength the longer I go in an event. Plus, I kept thinking "Just 16 more miles". Funny how it changes perspective when you put certain adverbs and adjectives in front of things like "just", "only", "little", "short", etc. Plus, I was passing people along the way, so this gave me opportunities to talk with others, which made the time pass by better. I know. Who me? Strike up a conversation? Unthinkable. ;)

The part I probably liked best was the doublers- the people who rode both Evergreen-->Avon and then Avon --> Evergreen. Riding Sunday, a lot of the people were doing the back-to-back ride and I was in awe of them. They were an encouragement, awesome and I made sure I let them know that.

After Echo Lake it was still another 3 miles to the top. I finally reached an aid station, refilled, texted Ross to let him know I was on my way. At the top top, I stopped to put on my jacket for descending, celebrated with a few other riders that we were almost done and then started heading down and... FLAT. No frickin' way! Well, why not. I flipped my bike over and started changing my tire. (Ross had brought me more tubes, but no CO2). Then the SAG stopped to offer her bike pump. I used it and, as I was changing my tire, a thunderstorm rolled in. How opportune, a SAG was right here, I could pop in the vehicle and take a safe ride down the mountain versus chance riding in the rain with wash-out, bumps, wet brakes, etc. So what did I choose? The dumb way down the mountain.

And, as soon as I chose not to get in the SAG, I regretted it. The rain was cold, pelting, brutal. It was horrible. There was so much gravel and washout on the road, it was so, so, SO unsafe. I was miserable. MISERABLE. I rode slow enough not to get out of control, which only prolonged the cold, agony of it all. Not to mention how unsafe and stupid it was.

The only thing that made it slightly better was the view of the rainbow at the end. It was AWESOME! I don't think I have seen a rainbow like that since childhood and that really made me smile.

I crossed the finish and I was done! Chilled, wet, cold, but DONE!

All in all, I know this post may come off as negative, but that is not what I am  meaning for it be. I struggled, I really did. But when I looked back at what I struggled with, it was the mental, logistical, weather-related factors that I did the struggling with. And, in the end,  I conquered them. I expected this ride to be a test of my physical strength, but it turned out to be a test of my mental strength and my will. Looking back, I am so glad I stuck this day out. I learned a lot about myself and fighting through.


Jan said...

Girl, I would have been on the SAG as soon as I got the first flat tire and lost my sandwich! Way to Go!