This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but pictures taken with the Note 4 are leaps and bounds better than pictures from the Galaxy S3. When digging back through my Mt. Evans attempt 2014 pictures I thought something was wrong with the photos or I was viewing some compressed version of them. Nope. The S3 is just old as dirt… or the Note 4 is awesome. The Note 5 and Note 6 hardly existed and now the Note 7 is burning people’s houses down; so I’m pretty content with my phone that won’t kill me and takes great pictures – plus it’s not paid off yet so I’m stuck with it.
That trip to Colorado in 2014 seems so recent when thinking about the trip itself, yet it feels like another lifetime when thinking about everything that’s occurred between then and now. That vacation planted the seed for my desire to move to Colorado. If we had never gone I’d probably still be living in Connecticut, riding laps of Walnut Hill Park after work and screaming at the hood rats walking their pit bulls to get out of the way.
During that vacation I developed (at complete random) an overwhelming urge to bike to the summit of Mt Evans. We already had rental bikes and CDOT had opened the Evans Scenic Byway just that week. Sprout thought the idea was ludicrous, because it involved going upwards and no one wants to do that on a bike, so I had to solo it while she sought out flat roads. Spoiler: I didn’t make it.
Sprout came out to visit this week (more on that in another post, maybe) and of course we reminisced about the 2014 trip, and last night I happened to pull my total lie “Mt. Evans – I made it” shirt out from deep in my overloaded t-shirt drawer. That all got me thinking about attempting Evans again and… you know… actually making it this time. It’s been two years, I might be in better (or worse) shape, maybe the mountain shrunk, maybe the trainer I don’t have has been slipping me EPO – it was worth a try.
On the drive there I was weighing out my probability of success by comparing attempt 2014 to attempt 2016.
In 2014 I had a few things working against me. It was early June so it was cold as shit and I ultimately turned around at Summit Lake because of 30mph sustained wind and 40+mph gusts. Getting this wind from the side was nearly pushing me off cliffs or into traffic. Getting it head on (which is where it was most often) had me at VO2max for nearly the entirety of the ride, simply so I could maintain through the gusts the >5mph pace necessary to not simply tip over. By the time I reached summit lake I was absolutely smoked. So I didn’t have to deal with any of that this time. It was a nice, calm, albeit storm threatening day. Back in 2014 I had also flown in from sea level and only spent a few days in Denver prior to riding at high altitude. This time around I’ve been not only living in Denver for a year, but have spent plenty of nights in the past couple months sleeping at 10,000+ft. I also now have the advantage of riding my own bike instead of a rental – although, given that the rental was a CAAD10 Ultegra, that might actually be a disadvantage.
On the flip side, even thought it was early in the riding season during attempt 2014, I had probably already done more riding that year than I’ve done in all of 2016. My bike riding has really fallen off this year. Whether my fitness has also remains to be seen. Then of course there is the minor issue that storms were predicted to start around noon and I was just beginning to head up at 11:15am. All-in-all though, I figured I had more going for me than against me this time around, just as long as the weather held out.
Of course the weather didn’t hold out. Scary clouds were rolling in before I even clipped into the pedals, but I decided to go for it anyway. Unlike climbing a 14er, which seems to take even longer going down than up, biking one gives you a descent time that is only a tiny fraction of the ascent time, reduced further by a factor that is directly proportional to the size of your balls…. meaning: I wasn’t really too concerned about my ability to beat a storm coming down. If I was hiking, I never would have even left the parking lot.
First, the good news. My 2014 split time from Echo Lake (the start) to Summit Lake was 1 hr and 32 mins. Today I managed to do it in 1 hr 7 mins, which is so significantly faster that I was feeling really good about myself, right up until I remembered how much wind there was last time and how much wind there wasn’t this time. I used the same pacing as last time, keeping in the threshold heart rate zone while climbing – which had me averaging around 7.5mph for the whole ascent while still recovering (rather than trying to hammer) on the couple, very short flat sections. I don’t know whether that speed is good or bad because I just don’t care enough to go look up pace times for the Mt. Evans Time Trial.
Unfortunately, the misleadingly named Summit Lake (which, in reality, is almost 2000ft below the summit) is once again as far as I made it (actually, I went like 100 yards passed just to feel like I accomplished more than last time). With a thunderstorm off to the east (pictured in the title image), plenty more building to the west, and a butt clenching descent ahead of me, the last thing I wanted was to start getting rained on. If I had to evaluate it, I’m probably in worse shape than last time, but the lack of wind and my altitude acclimatization seemed to have more than made up for it. I probably could have made it, were it not for the weather (I could have made it last time too). Nonetheless, it was a good training ride and great time to reminisce further on vacation 2014. I also managed the descent on RIM BRAKES… OMG. I even continued down into Idaho Springs through rain and hail on my RIM BRAKES… and I’m still alive!!
Oh! This ride also let me try out the Runcam2 for something other than drone and RC plane video. Below is a video of the descent that’ll only be impressive to people who don’t road bike. There’s no moral to this story or any witty conclusions either, because I hate blogs that try to give cheesy life advice. I go up mountain. I go down mountain. End of post.