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Mount Evans Ride

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By David Parden

 

It’s the day before the Mount Evans ride and I am really excited about it! The road to the summit is the highest paved road in North America climbing to 14,264 feet. I spent the afternoon getting prepared. There was no way I was going to take my trusty mount on this adventure without it being sparkling and clean! A few hours later it was just that, along with being fueled and inspected also.

 

For a July 16th ride there appears to be a ton of snow still on the mountains. We have been having killer monsoon rains every afternoon so we (my wife and I) will have to be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions and that means, taking everything for both winter and summer riding conditions.

 

The plan is to get on the road around eight in the morning. According to Google Maps it is a 2.5-hour, 107mile ride to the summit from my house and that doesn’t take into account stopping for fuel at the base and stopping to take the sites in. My best guess is we will reach the summit around noon. On the way back depending on the riding conditions we may stop at Kermitts Roadhouse for lunch then take the Peak to Peak Highway to Lyons. I don’t think I want to get caught up in the Estes Park traffic unless the riding conditions are spectacular.

 

I guess there is nothing left to do now but wait!

 

The day started off as planned, we got on the road right at 8 AM. I was surprised to see some clouds already dotting the mountains as we headed south towards Denver. I hate riding in Denver traffic but it is a necessary evil if you want to get into the high country quick! We made it to Idaho Springs by 9:30 grabbed some breakfast and re-fueled then started our ride to the top. At first there was very little traffic and I was beginning to think it might be quiet on the mountain but that all changed by the time we got to the Mount Evans Welcome Center.

 

The biggest obstacle riding up isn’t the twisty roads or the altitude it’s the bicyclist! They were everywhere! They really made me nervous. They held up traffic and once one came up into my blind spot and had I swerved we would have collided. I think it may be time to force bicyclist to purchase registration for their bikes if they are going to have equal rights on the road.

 

Now for the mountain, it’s wonderful! There are a lot of switchbacks to deal with! I use to say that I liked going up the mountain better than coming down it. Mainly because I hate fighting gravity and having to shift down and brake but I learned on the way down that switchbacks are much easier to deal with when gravity is helping you! It didn’t take very long to get to the top. I was hoping for a longer ride and you get above tree line really quick and once there it was like very other tall mountain I have ridden. There was a happy little lake on the way up we stopped at for pictures and there were lots of lakes off in the distance to view. The only complaint I have is that we wanted to picnic on the way down but there was only a couple of roadside parks and they were very crowded. We ended up eating at a roadside park back down in Idaho Springs.

 

By the time we finished lunch the clouds were really building. I debated about whether to take the freeway home or the Peak to Peak Highway. I elected to take the Peak to Peak which takes you through Central City and Black Hawk Colorado two gambling towns. They are like the Hotel California. Once you get there you feel like you can never leave because they made it a maze. We got turned around for sure.

 

Once we were though the maze we were headed North bound and looking at a nasty cloud! Sure enough we got into rain, hard rain with lightning and hail! I could barely see and my face was getting pelted. I had a line of cars behind me in the height of the storm but I wasn’t pulling over because we were able to maintain the speed limit. At one point I thought I was going to have to go into the ditch to avoid a car that was coming towards us in my lane. She swerved back on a nick of time!

 

About half way to Lyons Colorado we came upon a wreck. An emergency worker told me it was a fellow biker and advised us to slow down. I never saw the rider or the downed bike but regardless the caution was heeded! Finally right outside of Lyons the rain stopped and it quickly became hot again.

 

There were bikes everywhere in Lyons and I wanted out of my rain suit. I wanted to have my cool factor going! My ego got squashed really fast in Lyons after we took our suits off. Just as we were pulling away I had two tight turns to negotiate and on the second one I nearly dropped the bike. I over corrected and my crash bar hit a high curb and we came to a sudden stop from about two miles per hour. It took all of my strength to hold the bike up. After that I was just ready to be home! The last twenty miles was uneventful other than missing a turn and it was nice to be on straight country roads as we watched the storm we had been in early race us to the house.

 

We made it home in just over seven hours and about 250 miles. Both my wife and I were ready to be off the bike by that point. I re-learned a lesson I already knew. Take all of your gear! I didn’t take a helmet with a face shield and I was dearly wishing I had it during the storm!

 

The summer is half over and that was my first real ride if the season. Shame on me! Weather permitting we are going to ride the Snowy Range in Wyoming next weekend. Despite taking only one real road trip this season I have put right at a 750 miles on my bike already. I rolled 30,000 this summer. This is the 6th summer to own my 2000 Road King Classic and I have put 20,000 miles on it. Not too bad for a wannabe Biker!

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