For a cyclist, few things in life are more enjoyable than an epic ride over great terrain.
But an epic ride over great terrain with ample support staff, feed stations and 4,999 riding buddies would probably qualify.
That was certainly the case according to Ken Reardon of Fort Collins, who said he'd done the Triple Bypass bike ride before, "but not in a long time."
"I ride competitively, but with organized races being weird the last two years ... I just wanted a nice, fun ride."
Though, he admitted that he would still be checking his road times though.
The Triple Bypass —a classic "bucket list" item for many cyclists and a bragging point for its veterans — is named for the three passes along the course, which winds from Buchanan Park in Evergreen, over Juniper Pass (11,140 feet elevation), down through Idaho Springs and then up along the banks of Clear Creek and eventually over Loveland Pass (11,990 feet), wending past Keystone and Frisco before heading over Vail Pass (10,560 feet) and then down to the finish line in the town of Vail. This year's race featured a "double bypass" option, starting in Georgetown, and just going over Loveland and Vail passes. Most of the course is either on closed roads, or on multiuse pathways. The event is capped at 5,000 participants. This year, it sold out two months ahead of time.
"We commonly sell out, but not that quickly," said race Operations Director Natalie Raborn.
"I think everyone's eager to get back to normal life, and this kind of outdoor ride is a relatively safe way to have fun doing it," she said.
New this year was was the Gran Fondo competition. The 750 participants were given timing chips, and were specifically timed on the climbing segments over all three of the passes, with prizes and glory awaiting the riders with the top times.
The charitable cycling organization Team Evergreen puts on the annual ride, which was canceled last year. Other community organizations help supply the roughly 500 volunteers needed to make the ride happen. In return, Team Evergreen donates part of the proceeds to the participating organizations.
"Blue Spruce Kiwanis volunteers spent the night on Juniper Pass, so they could open the aid stations at 6:30 a.m.," Raborn said.
Dawn's early glow illuminated an upbeat vibe at the Evergreen start line. A "wall of donuts" and coffee awaited riders as they picked up their registration packets and commemorative jerseys. A young man with a drum kit provided a rhythmic soundtrack to riders passing through the start gate. Higher up, a bagpiper performed at the first pass.
Riders really do come from across the country to participate
A member of the event staff confirmed that retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre was participating.
Another out-of-stater was Steve Olson from Tucson, Arizona.
'I'm meeting my nephew and two brothers to do this," he said.
The Fort Worth cycling team Health's Angels, six riders strong, participated this year. The team usually participates in the Ride MS fundraising events, and actually brags about being a top-fundrainsing team for its area.
"We were supposed to do (the Triple Bypass) last year for my 50th birthday party," said team member Wayne McCrow
But then the 2020 edition of the race was canceled.
"Longest 50th birthday party ever!" piped s in teammate David Baker.
For other riders, the Triple Bypass is closer to home. Rider Kyle Griffith said he's done the ride four times previously. He said the ride is fun, just a good ride for some and competitive for others.
"I kind of love Loveland Pass because it's pretty much halfway and not that tough."
His least favorite part?
"On the Double Triple (the unsanctioned add-on to the Triple Bypass where riders do the whole course in reverse the following day), going back over Squaw (Juniper) Pass ... I'm not doing that this year. I've smartened up over the years."