01 July 2011

Tips for Riding the Triple Bypass in Colorado

Triple Bypass Tips

The triple Bypass is considered to be one of the most challenging one-day bicycle events in Colorado. Covering 120 miles and 10,000+ feet of elevation gain. Ride options now include an east to west, west to east, and a double triple route - taking on both directions in two days.

  • Triple Bypass: 120 miles, 10,000 ft elevation gain, 1 day
  • Double Triple Bypass: 240 miles, 20,000 ft elevation gain, 2 days
  • Triple Bypass official website


It is said (by insiders) that 50% of participants on the annual Triple Bypass event ride in Colorado have ridden the Triple one, two or more times. The other near fifty percent are new! That is an incredible number, especially for marketing personnel who need to find those new riders each year, but mostly for the incredible challenge taken on by first-timers to the most challenging ride in Colorado.

I say, if you can do it - do it now! Once I did it, I was done (and happily off to new challenges).

My tips for preparing to ride - and riding - the Triple Bypass:
  • Train well.
  • Good bike fit is very important with this much climbing, descending and a long day in the saddle.
  • If a personal coach drives you to train better - invest, otherwise plan your own rides in increasing distances and purpose (big mountain climbs!).
  • Excellent training for the Triple Bypass is to ride an event like Ride the Rockies in June (or travel to France for a couple weeks like I did!). But you can simulate Ride the Rockies on your body by riding consecutive hard days of 50-70 mile distances, 3 days in a row. And then repeat. Active resting in between.
  • Get all your gear ready the night before (and check your tires) so you will be ready to go in the morning.
  • Show up with a clean bike! 
  • Know and test all your gear (clothes and equipment) before the ride, don't experiment on ride day.
  • There is no need to have a riding partner on event day, or have the need to keep track of a large group throughout 120 miles of the ride. Chances are if you have trained together, you will be close in proximity on event day, or there to cheer them across the finish line. There are so many cyclists out on the road, excellent volunteers, aid stations and sag support, you should be safe and content and independently capable of this type of ride if you have prepared well. 
  • Get out in the elements! You want to put yourself in all weather conditions to best prepare for the Triple Bypass. Test out your gear and layers and your mental toughness. 
  • Buy and bring a good rain jacket. Expect to use knee warmers, and arm warmers, and definitely cycling gloves.
  • Expect to be both cold, then hot and cold again during the course of the day.
  • Bring ID, money and a phone (in a waterproof case).
  • If it is raining (or rain is in the forecast) wear long finger gloves.
  • I never ride with a backpack. I carry all my gear in three deep pockets on a short sleeve cycling jersey.
  • Hydrate hydrate and eat very well for 3-days prior.
  • Rest prior to the event (according to your training schedule), ride the day before.
  • Eat within the first 35-45 minutes of the ride, and continuously through the day, every 15 minutes.
  • Personally I do not carry 2 full water bottles, I do use 2 bottles, but they are not always full. I study the course and plan where I will collect water based on ascent and distance. Since there are so many aid stations along the way, if you keep moving you do not need to (or should you) linger long at the aid stations.
  • Use the aid stations, but move through them quickly.
  • I pre measure and carry my own electrolyte drink powder mix inside small baggies to add to additional bottles of water throughout the day. This is not the day to experiment with any new mixes served at the aid station. The standard consumption of water is 1 bottle of water every 45 minutes, more if it is hot. If it is cold force fluids. You are still sweating, still blowing off Co2 and getting dehydrated.
  • I keep my food open in my pocket and eat while I ride, I do not only eat at aid station when my bike is stopped.;
  • Avoid the bonk but eating known foods and eating steadily along the entire route. I break bars into small pieces and put them in baggies so I can reach into my jersey pocket and chew on a small piece.
  • Ride very steady on event day, especially up Squaw Pass in the early morning. Squaw Pass is a long an intimidating start.
  • Keep your own pace.
  • Try to avoid sweating a lot when climbing to avoid getting chilled on the downhills.
  • Keep your effort very steady both up and down the climbs. If you are comfortable with the technique of rotating the pedals even on the long downhills to keep the blood moving in your legs, do so.
  • Get used to riding without music. You will want to hear "on your left".
  • Don't psych yourself out when the climb appears hard, it is not, you can do it.
  • Maintain your straight line while riding.
  • Do not stop for long breaks. Keep moving along. The weather might (more like definitely will) catch up with you later if you delay at every aid station.
  • The key stretch for avoiding weather on the ride is between Summit highschool (south side of  Lake Dillon) and the underpasses on the other side of Vail Pass. Get to this section as early in the day as possible to avoid the 2:00-3:30pm afternoon rain showers so typical in Summit County.
  • Be nice to the volunteers.
  • Don't stress, stay steady and positive and relaxed (responsive) on your bike to save energy.
  • It is an amazing feeling to see the finish line.
  • After arrival eat as soon as you step off the bike, eat carbs and protein immediately.
  • The recreation center near the finish offers showers for a fee.
  • If you arrange for a friend to meet you at the finish with a backpack with towel and clean warm clothes, you will be so happy. Rest and shower, and then walk to dinner. Getting your heart moving again that evening will actually aid in recovery for the next day. Eat something for dinner that you would "normally eat".
  • Try to get to sleep early, (even if you are restless at altitude if you stay in a hotel near the finish or plan to ride the Double Triple Bypass), lay still and rest your body.
  • Encouraging one good friend to sag (drive, not ride) a group of you back from Avon to the start in Evergreen makes for a special finish to a day by sharing stories in the car on the way home. Otherwise bus transport back is provided at certain set times.
For travelers to Colorado for the Triple Bypass

Where to stay for the triple?

The nearby city of Golden - nestled in the foothills near I-70 - would make a perfect place to settle for a day or two before riding the Triple Bypass. Whether you are arriving by plane/rental car into Denver International Airport, or driving south or north along I-25 into Colorado, Golden is on the path of convergence leading deep up the I-70 Corridor over the Rocky Mountains.

Nearby Golden, you will find standard hotels and plenty of nearby climbs and roads to stretch your pedal legs and adjust to moderate altitude before taking on the high altitude climbs of the Triple Bypass. The actual town of Evergreen is residential, with few nearby hotels.

If you plan to stay after the Triple Bypass and enjoy more local riding, the mountain towns of Frisco and Breckenridge, in Summit County, are a great places to road ride, mountain bike, paddle, hike and play. These towns are at altitude, so arriving into the state and plopping yourself down at 9000ft will take you three days (or more) to adjust.

  • what: Triple Bypass
  • where: Bergen Park (Evergreen) to Avon, Colorado (or reverse)
  • when: annually in July. There is no mass start time. Start time is 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
  • who: there will be 3,500 riders on the course on Saturday (traveling east to west) and 2,500 on Sunday (traveling west to east).
  • why: a chance to ride three huge Colorado Rocky Mountain passes (Squaw, 11,140'; Loveland, 11,990'; Vail, 10,560') on one 122-mile "lung-busting day"with over 10,600 feet of climbing. This is a ride event, not a race (there are no times given).
  • how: the event does have checkpoints (where you are unable to pass) where riders must show wristbands and helmet numbers to proceed.
  • cost: Triple (one-way/either way): $150, Double Triple (two-way): $275
  • Ride Reports: Colorado High - Squaw Pass. The Triple Bypass is a classic bike ride event every July in Colorado. For 23 years this event has been growing in popularity. Getting into the ride has become the real race. After the event sold out in 45 minutes in 2010, the event organizers at Team Evergreen have devised a new registration plan, entrance into the Triple Bypass is a two step process: pre-registration/drawing and then registration (if your name is drawn).

Triple Bypass Plans & Transportation
*Please verify this exact information every year! 

Transportation: Information provided on the Team Evergreen link at 2011 Triple Bypass Lodging & Bus Transportation Information. Bus Transportation:Transportation to and from the Start Line (Evergreen, CO) and Finish Line (Avon, CO) will be available at $70 per person and includes one bike and one bag. Transportation will be available for purchase beginning in May.

Transportation Tips: In years past the event organizers have offered bus transportation for riders returning to the start area it cost around $90++ one-way in 2009). Bikes were loaded into trucks. Honestly, most participants arrange for personal transportation back home. This entails asking a relative or friend to be your shuttle service.

In 2009 I drove my car to the start area in Bergen Park (Evergreen), it is about 10 minutes off of I-25, so I was able to easily pick up the car upon return to Denver. I parked the car and started riding. I asked a friend to pick me up in Avon at 3:00pm. Avon is less than a 2-hour drive from Denver, CO. This allowed me time to arrive into Avon and eat after the ride. I met my ride at the recreation center in Avon where they had a fresh bag of clothes for me so I could change before the long drive back home. (please see the map below).

It worked out very well having personal transportation back home. It also worked out well because one of the guys ended up having hamstring trouble, was unable to complete the ride, and needed the car to pick him up en route. The event offers official sag support, but he was much happier not hanging around in his kit for hours.

Although personal sag support cannot follow the exact route of the riders, there are key points along the route where it would be great to have a support car to unload or load up on dry clothing, especially in harsh weather. Of course this depends on having a friend willing to devote the entire day to sag support.

Avon, Colorado - The Finish / Start:

*Please verify this exact information every year!
Triple Bypass Accommodations & Bags
*Please verify this exact information every year!

Lodging information provided on the Team Evergreen link at 2011 Triple Bypass List of Lodging or Map and names of Hotels in Avon, Colorado

*Vail, Colorado is 18 miles east of Avon. Edwards, Colorado is 4.4 miles west from Avon and a better choice for accommodation than Vail. But try for Avon first.

For the 500 individuals signed up for the Double Triple Bypass, you will need overnight accommodation in Avon, Colorado or Edwards, CO (if you are alone with your bike). Vail or even Frisco are an option if you have car transportation). Note that Beaver Creek ski resort is UP THE HILL from the town of Avon, CO.

Also remember that Avon is at altitude, so that means you will be "sleeping high," not the best for rest and recovery for the next day's ride, so be sure to limit your moving around as much as possible to allow for recovery to get out and do it all over again the next day. Try to walk or ride to dinner to get a a little exercise in, it will actually help with your recovery.

I am not certain what sort of service they will be offering (or if) for bag transport for Double Triple Bypass riders. I plan to ask the pick-up driver of a friend whose is doing the East to West route to drop my bag at my hotel in Avon. I'm not sure how to get the bag back to Denver, but chances are I'll find someone who will pick it up, or the Triple Bypass Organizers will have a bag transport truck.

Triple Bypass Route and Maps

Maps of the Triple Bypass

Triple Bypass Route Maps:

Triple Bypass Earth Map

The Double Triple Bypass profile map - 240 miles, 20,000 miles climbing in 2 days.
I recently located the ClimbbyBike.com profile for Mt Evans. This is the profile from Idaho Springs up to The top of Mount Evans. Sure makes it look easy. ClimbbyBike.com climb information on Mt Evans, Colorado

Triple Bypass Climb information

Squaw Pass: Pedal Dancer rides Squaw Pass
Squaw Pass: MyBicycleRoutes
Squaw Pass: MtEvans.com

Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Loveland Pass: Summit Biking
Loveland Pass: SummitCove
Loveland Pass: MyBicycleRoutes

Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Vail Pass: CyclePass
Vail Pass: MyBicycleRoutes

Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Triple Bypass Images - pictures from past rides:

Squaw Pass

Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Loveland Pass
Kenny Rakestraw climbing Loveland Pass   Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Kenny Rakestraw climbing Loveland Pass   Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Kenny Rakestraw at the summit of Loveland Pass   Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Summit on Triple Bypass day 2009,  Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Finish Area in Avon, Colorado

 Photo by Karen at PedalDancer
Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer riding the Triple Bypass on Loveland Pass in 2009