What a fun time! This was the first event that I have completed for a second time. I only began biking last May. That only put me about 15 months into this journey, and oh what a journey it has been!
I have been facing some mental and physical challenges throughout my training this summer, and I was a little apprehensive about completing this ride.
My living situation has been all over the place for the past 2 months, and thus my diet and training schedule have suffered.
I kept telling people “I’m supposed to do the Copper Triangle.” Thankfully I have great people around me. They pushed me to go after this.
The ride itself is just under 80 miles, with over a mile of altitude gain over the course of the ride. The start/finish line is also about 8 miles from my front door. At this point, I do not own a car, and 5:30 am is too early for the bus system. So now what?
Inevitably, I ride my bike to and from the event. Yes, this ads about 16 miles, making my day now about 93 miles in total.
I had a wedding to bartend the night before, and my week in general leading up wasn’t the best in terms of nutrition. I got myself into bed around midnight, and ripped myself out of bed at 5 am.
Time for a champions breakfast. One of my favorite to make is basically a scrambled egg omelet. I use 3 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, pepperoni, and pepperjack cheese. It is delicious and does a great job filling me with sustainable energy. On this day, it proved to be extended energy for me!
I got myself out of the house by 5:45 am. 8 miles uphill to Copper Mountain for the start!
It takes roughly a half hour to make the trek and I arrive to pick up my packet. My packet includes a number for my helmet, a number for my bike tube, and my event jersey!
PS – Did I mention how COLD it was? I left in about 40 degree weather and it took a large portion of the day to feel any kind of warmth in my bones!
Nonetheless, I begin!
Right off the bat there is the first climb. 10 miles, climb 1,500 feet. Freemont Pass! This year there were 3 fun sections that prizes were handed out for completing the climb the fastest. This was the first section. My strategy was to attack the early sections. Most people are saving their energy for the ride, so I went pretty hard on it to start!
The first section completed in 44 minutes, 18 seconds. This was good enough for 8th place out of 881 recorded times that day!
The descent of Freemont pass down towards Leadville is exhilarating! The way down is almost 10 miles as well, and I was averaging about 35 mph!! On a Bike!!
At this point I locked up with another rider wearing a full Notre Dame kit. Luck of the Irish is with me!
At this point I have about 25 miles of very reasonable terrain, and just have to keep my average speed up there.
The next pass is Tennessee Pass, but honestly doesn’t even feel like a pass, and I made quick work of it.
The next climb would be battle mountain, which also happens to be the next timed King of the Mountain Section. I rode nicely into this section, and then I dropped the hammer! This section is just under 2 miles of climbing up about 500 ft. I pushed pedal over pedal and kept pushing!
My time here would be 9 minutes, 29 seconds! This was 90 seconds fastest than last year! This time was good enough for 22nd out of 907 recorded times for the day. All time this was good enough for the 161 out of 7,375 people!
The descent from Battle Mountain is the most fun of the day! High Speed switchbacks and then a wide open drop!
From here, I have about 15-20 miles to gain some energy back, while maintaining a great pace.
How great of a pace?
Mile 60 was completed at about 2 hrs and 56 minutes. That is to say for the first 3 hours I averaged over 20 mph, while climbing up and down mountains! The final 18 miles took considerably longer!
These miles were beautiful as you come through downtown Vail.
I finally took a break at mile 62, right at the mouth of the daunting West side of Vail Pass. I have done this climb several times, but it’s always painful when it starts at mile 62 of your ride!
Nonetheless, after a 7 min break, I climb!
Honestly, I felt awful. I felt gassed. I felt like I used too much, too early. My place for the day dropped, however, I was surprised to see that I only missed my Personal Record by 2 minutes! 44 Minutes best time, 46 Minutes on this day.
This time was good enough for 91st out of 884 recorded times that day!
The Summit is the best feeling in the world! Nothing but downhill from here!
As I near the finish, Elation floods my system. So much emotion overcomes me.
The full ride took me 4 hours, and 24 minutes to complete. This was 32 minutes quicker than my time last year, AND I stopped 2 less times!
Honestly, given all the variables, I am EXTREMELY proud of my accomplishments.
1st KOM: 8th/881
2nd KOM: 22nd/907
3rd KOM: 91st/884
Entire Course: 78 miles, 4 hrs: 24 min
What a fun experience this was!