That phrase alone is enough to strike fear or excitement (or maybe a little bit of both?) in the hearts of cyclists around the country. One of the oldest organized rides in Colorado, and arguably the best-known, the Triple Bypass is put on by Team Evergreen and covers 120 miles, challenging riders with over 10,000 feet of climbing as they leave Evergreen and traverse Juniper Pass (11,140 ft), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft), and Vail Pass (10,560 ft) to finish in Avon.
Last year, for the event’s 30th anniversary, organizers introduced two shorter distances: the “Single” starts in Copper and climbs over Vail Pass (35 miles), and the “Double” launches from Georgetown and includes both the Loveland and Vail passes (75 miles). Cyclists can start from any one of those three points, but all will finish together in Avon, allowing Triple and Double riders to reconvene with friends doing either of the shorter distances.
If you’ve never taken the plunge, here are a few reasons to make 2019 the year:
- Epic scenery
- Challenging terrain
- Excellent swag and food
- And an almost completely closed course
If that’s not enough to pique your interest, consider also that the proceeds from the ride fund local nonprofits, and the new shorter options make the ride more accessible to newbies.
I spoke with Jennifer Barbour, co-director of the Triple Bypass as Team Evergreen’s Executive Director, about the event. She told me that Texas brings the largest group of out of state riders.
- What are the date and start time of the event? This year the ride is on July 13, 2019. We recommend a 6:00 a.m. start; people can start earlier but we can’t guarantee that the aid stations will be open. We close the start at 8:00 a.m. due to the cut-off time, but if riders get caught by SAG they can be taken to the next aid station to continue. You want to start early due to the possibility of afternoon monsoons—the earlier the better. We will update the cut-off times on our website, but 8:00 p.m. will be when we close the finish.
- What is the cost? Are there group discounts? Registration for the Triple is $225 and includes a jersey, five well-stocked aid stations, lunch at Loveland Ski Area, and tacos from McDevitt Taco Supply and beer from Colorado Native at the finish line. Also included is the price of closing mountain roads and the support of the Colorado State Patrol in keeping the ride safe. Groups of 10 to 20 can register on the same team and 10% of the fees will be given to the nonprofit of your choice. Groups larger than 20 riders will have a 15% donation made in their name.
- What was the motivation behind starting the event and who benefits from it? In 1988, a group of people in Evergreen formed Team Evergreen Cycling. Mike Dern had a great idea for a ride from Evergreen to Vail and to call it the Triple Bypass. There was a recent item in Outside by Mike’s son. Profits from the Triple are given to nonprofits that help produce the ride including the Special Olympics, American Diabetes Association, the local food bank, and the local animal shelter. We gave $200,000 last year and expect even more this year.
- What suggestions would you give a first-time rider of your event?
- Start with a shorter route. The Single can be a fun family thing where [riders of longer distances can meet family] in Copper and complete the ride as a family.
- Spend time in the saddle; elevation and hills are good, but really what it takes is getting used to time in the saddle. We offer free training programs of different lengths on our website.
- Buy a good chamois—we have the Team Evergreen kit on sale on the website and it’s a got a great chamois. There’s also Primal gear on the Triple site.
- Make sure your gear is in good condition. It gets cold on the descents, so a good trick can be using those shower caps from hotels over your helmet. You can also use disposable latex gloves under your bike gloves [to cut the wind].
- Eat often—every 45 minutes take in a gel, bar, or hydration drink. Honey Stinger and Nuun will be out on course. We also have gluten-free options throughout, including at lunch and the finish. Stay hydrated and stay fed.
- Coming from lower elevations, try and come out a couple days early and get used to the elevation.
- Will there be police manning the intersections? Marshals or professional flaggers will be at the roundabouts and the Colorado State Patrol will be a big presence on the course. Though we close many of the westbound roads, follow the rules of the road and stay safe.
- What is the terrain like? What condition are the roads in? Most people do the full 120 miles and that includes 10,000 feet of climbing and of course, the descents. The first pass is fun: it’s early in the morning, the sun is coming up, and all the westbound roads are closed. The roads are great: Vail Pass is ridden on bike path, they’re all in great condition—it’s pretty incredible. There’s a new connector trail out of Idaho Springs this year that’s all on bike path so we don’t have to go through town.
- What hotel do you suggest? Does it offer a discount related to your event? Our shuttle partner is also handling lodging: Summit Cycles Solutions. They also do the shuttles and hotels for Ride the Rockies. There are spots in the Comfort Inn and Christie Lodge in Avon, and we also partner with Beaver Creek Resort Properties.
- How many riders are expected for the ride? About 4,500 overall. How many volunteers do you need to sufficiently staff it? 600 or so.
- How long have you been directing the ride? I’ve been the Team Evergreen Director for 7 years, and this is my first year as the ride director, although I’ve been heavily involved during past years.
- Do you ride? Yes, I’m a member of Team Evergreen. It’s a recreational club with 700 members, the largest club in the state.
- Any advice or last thoughts? Make sure you have your gear and get started early. Don’t eat anything weird before the ride. Remember that it’s a ride, not a race—even at an 8-mph pace, you’ll get done within the allotted time. Also, remember that half the ride is uphill, but half is down! People are intimidated, but it’s worthwhile; it’s the experience of a lifetime and people keep coming back, year after year.
Stay Tuned…for those in search of the most epic challenge, Jennifer teased that the infamous Double-Triple Bypass may come back in next couple of years.
This event typically sells out quickly, so register early!
Photo credits: Reid Neureiter
For more information, check out:
firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 526-3000 (registration)
email@example.com (general information)
Marin Campbell is a contributing writer for WheelBrothers, an avid cyclist, and a former competitive mountain biker and triathlete. She resides in Denver where she also works as a physical therapist.