August 19, 2017

Mt. Evans Group Ride

Atop Mt. Evans (+/- 14,264 ft.)

Earlier this month (June 15th) I joined a group of friends/athletes for a ride from Bergen Park (elevation 7798 ft.) in Evergreen, CO to the top of Mt. Evans (elevation 14262 ft.) via Colorado 103.  The informal “Mt. Evans Day” is an annual event for the Practical Coaching crew and one that I routinely try to make.  This classic route courses over both Squaw and Juniper passes, dropping riders off at Echo Lake (elevation 10600 ft.) and the gateway to Mt. Evans (elevation 14264 ft.).  Our group was treated to incredible weather … not a cloud in the sky and perfect temperatures; however, the descent from the summit left everyone with a chill that, at least in my case, lingered until I nearly returned to Bergen Park.  The ride to Echo Lake included the usual banter and served as the warm up to the real work to be had on the 14er.  Although the ranger at the park entrance indicated that the road above Summit Lake was CLOSED we elected to press on (we were aware of this possibility and had planned an alternate ride; however, the weather seemed to be in our favor and the ranger indicated that the road to the top would potentially open in the early afternoon).  After exchanging our $3 for entry—I used my Federal Parks Pass (I consider it an additional tax and purchase it annually … it always pays for itself  … FYI it includes a “guest” entry as well)—for colored ID bands (to keep the rangers on the road at bay), we proceeded up, up, and then up some more.  We lingered in the shade of the next decision tree at Summit Lake and, once again, elected to push on even though the Mt. Evans summit road remained closed.  Although we had to stop a few times to “plow” through snow and yield to an actual plow driver once on the way up and again on the way down, the summit trip was worth it.

Snow covered road (after the plow went through) on the descent

After rejoining the main group at the top (the stronger riders were waiting for me), I elected to hang back and enjoy the long fast-paced descent on my own.  I once again “plowed” through snow and joined the main group at Summit Lake to begin the fast descent to Echo Lake—descending in a well-spaced line and enjoying the views “sans guardrails” was a great thrill.

I especially enjoyed the return trip to Bergen Park—until the road turns a little rough, the descent down Squaw is one of my favorites.   While most of the riders quickly wrapped things up, I prepared to head out on a 4-mile run with a PC athlete, Lori.  We headed out of Bergen Park and explored a bit of Elk Meadow Park (a part of the Jefferson County Open Space).  Our quick out-and-back along the rolling crushed gravel paths of Elk Meadow served as the perfect ending to a fabulous training day!  Join us next year!

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