22 August 2010

Colorado High

Mount Evans - Am I there yet?

Every time I climb the 18 miles up Squaw Pass in Colorado, I ask myself that same question for the last 10 miles - am I there yet? Squaw Pass has about 5 false summits. Someone has even marked a yellow false summit line (to mess with your mind) about 2 false summits from the real summit, which again is not the summit, but instead the point at which you descend to Echo Lake Lodge. The destination for most cyclists. Unless, you plan to ride up to the summit of Mt Evans, but why would you do that since it is at 14,264 ft (4316 m)?

It was a beautiful clear blue-sky day. The perfect day to ride to 10,600 feet, which is far enough. I did not see a lot of cyclists out today. Road cycling in Colorado is a seasonal sport, and by now most cyclists (unless you live in Boulder, where they never stop riding) are by now busy camping, hiking, or mountain biking with their buddies, or setting up their CX bikes. I am still riding a road bike, until next weekend's Deer Creek Challenge. Then I will decide between a few invitations to go to Moab, Utah  in September/October, and then finally, I am hanging up my bike for the pool! (or so I say).

Today I decided to go out and do a classic climb in this area, Squaw Pass. The first pass of four in the Triple Bypass. It was fun playing tourist in my own back yard today. Here are some pictures from cycling today in Colorado. I did the loop route from Bergen Park to Echo Lake to Idaho Springs and back to Bergen Park. The section along I-70 is not that great, but doable. Squaw Pass is a good climb and was popular today with hikers, mushroom collectors, and motorcyclists. The road down to Idaho Springs carries more car traffic.

The ride from Bergen Park up Squaw Pass begins on a gentle slope. (You can tell this is Colorado, and not France, because we have yellow lines in the middle of our roads!)
The road climbs through groves of Aspen trees, "Quakies" we call them here in Colorado, because of the rustling sound made when the wind rattles the leaves. In a few weeks these will turn golden in color.

Denver in the distance

Continuing into the pine forest and a view of Mt Evans appears
Echo Lake Lodge is a good place to stop for a cold or hot drink
Inside is a bar where I have sought refuge many times from cold weather
There is also a very tacky souvenir shop
The inside of Echo Lake Lodge used to look like this in the 1930's
Echo Lake, with Mt Evans behind
The town of Idaho Springs, a good stop for a drink on the loop ride
Riding along the short section of bike path along the river

 There is an annual Mt Evans Hillclimb, Bob Cook Memorial race held in July every year. The race starts at 7,540 feet in front of the Clear Creek Middle School in Idaho Springs and proceeds to Echo Lake where the race turns and climbs to the summit of Mt Evans (14,264 feet.). Tom Danielson holds the record, set in 2004 with a time of 1:41:20. The Senior Women's course record is held by Jeannie Longo from France with a time of 1:59.19. The climb is 28 miles in length. But I am far more interested in and proud of my nephew Kenny, who won the Cat 4 division race in 2009 at age 21, visiting from California (where he is a Triathlete!). Here is Kenny: