Chris Carmichael Blog: New Routes Offer New Challenges

Endurance athletes are creatures of habit. We ride, run, hike and traverse the same routes over and over again, sometimes for years on end. For the most part it’s a matter of necessity; we gravitate to the routes that are the safest, quickest, most fun, or simply those that are available. But if you’re finding that you’re lacking enthusiasm for your workouts, try changing up the routes a bit. Sounds ridiculous, right? But it works. Ride a mountain bike or road bike loop in the opposite direction, and it’s a completely different experience.

Case in point: After 23 years, the Triple Bypass ride in Colorado is offering a new route this year. I’m really excited about it because I’ve always believed the reverse route of the traditional Triple Bypass is more difficult, more rewarding, and more convenient. The traditional 120-mile route starts in Evergreen and covers three major mountain passes [Squaw Pass (11,140 ft.), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft.), and Vail Pass (10,560 ft.)] before finishing in Avon, Colorado. With more than 10,000 feet of climbing and elevations above 11,000 feet, the ride is extremely challenging. But if you want to make reaching the finish line even more fun and an even greater accomplishment, do it in reverse (Triple Bypass East). Here’s why:

  1. More riding before the climbs: In the traditional route, the climbing starts right away. Your legs are fresh, your belly’s full, and you’re completely hydrated. On the new route, you start with roughly 20 miles of gradually climbing roads as you go from Avon to the base of Vail Pass. Those 20 miles aren’t that difficult, but it means you’ll have more than an hour of riding in your legs before reaching the first major climb.
  2. Climbs are stacked at the end of the ride: You have to dig deep to get over any of the three passes included in the Triple Bypass, but when you reach the foot of Squaw Pass on the West to East route – with perhaps 5 hours of riding already in your legs and with only this one mountain standing between you and the finish line – you really learn how deep you can go. Maybe you’ve climbed Squaw Pass a hundred times going toward Denver, but at the end of this Triple route it will seem like a climb you’ve never seen before.
  3. Descend right to the finish: I love the Triple in either direction, but when it comes to the finish I’d take the West-to-East route every time. You come off Squaw Pass and dive right down to the finish line in Evergreen. The end of a ride is what sticks with you the longest, and with the West-to-East route that memory is of a hard climb followed by a rewarding and exhilarating descent down to the finish.
  4. More choices after the finish: With the West-to-East route, you finish in Evergreen. Not only is there a huge variety of things to do in Evergreen, but it’s just outside of Denver and not that far off I-25. As much as riding the traditional Triple provides a great way to start a long weekend in the mountains, as an athlete with a family, it’s sometimes even nicer to ride out the mountains so you have an easier and faster trip home after the ride.

I’ve ridden the route in both directions, and I prefer the West-to-East route. If you want to take a look at it, with complete nutritional/mechanical support and the guidance of CTS Coaches, come to our Triple Bypass Recon/Training Camps. The first Triple Bypass Camp (June 5-8) covers the West-to-East Route and the second Triple Bypass Camp (June 8-11) covers the traditional route. An entry into the Triple Bypass Ride is includes with entry into either camp.

3 Responses to “Chris Carmichael Blog: New Routes Offer New Challenges”

  1. amy on

    My favorite routine is to drive to Avon the day before the Triple, and ride the west to east route that day. Then stay overnight with friends and ride to the start line for the east to west route. I am always happy to see my car waiting for me in Avon!

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  2. UltraRob on

    Several years ago, I rode back to Evergreen with a friend the day after the Triple. It certainly seems like a different route going the other direction. I’m not sure if it was harder the opposite direction because of the route or because my legs were tired from riding the other way the day before.

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