Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mt. Evans - The Mt. Everest for Cyclists

An EPIC ride!!

From Idaho Springs, it is approximately a 7,000' climb on a 28 mile circuitous road to the summit of Mt. Evans at 14,130'. The Mt. Evans Road is famously known as the highest paved road in North America. It draws peak-bagging cyclists as Mt. Everest lures mountain climbers.

If we're ever going to summit this road on a bike, this was the time since we were fit, just completed the grueling BTC, and importantly, not getting any younger. And how often will we get to Colorado? The weather was also favorable with two sunny days predicted with minimal chance of thunderstorms.

Wisely, we decided to break up the ride into two days. The first day, riding 13 miles and climbing 3,000' from Idaho Springs to Echo Lake which lies at 10,600' elevation. The second day, we started the ride from Echo Lake and tackled the remaining 15 miles and 3,800' to the 14,130' summit.

I dedicated this ride to Dick Fraschetti who planted the seed of cycling Mt. Evans. He was unable to make this trip due to health reasons.

On Monday afternoon, we rode from Idaho Springs to the Echo Lake Lodge. The gradient for the 13 mile climb ranged from 3 to 9 % and climbed approximately 3,000'

The lodge had a great cafe with homemade pies . . . that was motivation enough for the Pieman

Even at 10,600', the temps were mild at beautiful Echo Lake. Stage 1 completed.

Shadow rider climbing Mt. Evans Road

Early Tuesday morning, Herb and I completed Stage 2, the long slog up the remaining 15 miles; a 3,800' climb to the summit. Gradient between 4-7 %.

Looking down on Echo Lake where we started

Above the tree-line and the air getting thinner

Oh nooo! Road kill marmot T. U.

Summit Lake at around 12,000'

Taking the easy way up . . . definitely above the tree-line

Encountering the first mountain goat . . . a little baby

Herb making the final push on the switch-backs above 13,000'.

Click on pic for grand view


Made it to the summit at 14,130' in about 2 1/2 hours

Two happy conquistadors

The surprise bonus was being greeted by about a dozen mountain goats at the summit . . . giving true meaning to a mountain goat ride . . . ha!!

The alpha male boldly approaches us. He shows no fear of people.

The million dollar view - a family of goats and a string of "14's"

Click on pic

Pa, ma and baby

Herb getting high on the incredibly amazing views

"Castle in the Sky" - the remains of the Crest House built in 1939-41 was the highest structure in the world at the time. A propane tank explosion in 1979 destroyed the house. In 1992, the structure was converted into an observation platform.

Click on pic to read history

Mountain goat saunters in and makes himself at home

Bonus #2 - a family of big horn sheep comes strolling by

Papa Big Horn is still a young buck

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