Last year I ventured out while here in Colorado and did something I never expected to be able to do. I overcame a life-long, deep-seated fear of heights in climbing the famed Loveland Pass. When I got there in my car, I was so nervous driving up the north side of the pass that I could not stay in the right lane, since there are sheer drop offs with no guard rails. I drove down to the Keystone ski parking lot, rode up to the top, and then back down. The snow was incredible, as Colorado, and most of the US, had experienced record snowfall that year. I had to overcome some tremendous mental obstacles to make it to the top, let alone survive the ride back down, but I did. Here is the blog entry I provided then.
Note especially all the snow in the pictures in that blog article. Fast forward to today. Eric Ellis, pastor of Flatirons Baptist Church, drove me out this time. I knew that the Triple By Pass will climb Loveland from the north, the side that I had not even tried last year, the side I could barely drive by myself. But, I knew I needed to beat it. So, we started on that side. No warm up, just hit the climb, starting at 10,700 ft. above sea level. I was surprised at how well I handled the climb. Yes, I was watching traffic behind me, because the road is not wide, it has no shoulder, it has no guard rails, and it is the truck route for all hazardous cargo vehicles that are not allowed to go through the tunnel on I-70. But, the trucks gave me enough room, and I got to the top pretty easily.
I descended down to Keystone, thinking I was going to ride back up to the top, and then back down to Keystone, and that would be it. But as I climbed back up the other side (starting around 9450 ft. above sea level—it is a longer climb) I started thinking (which, given the altitude is sometimes dangerous). Why not just complete the loop? No, I had not even thought about descending the “grippy” side, but hey, I hope to someday do the Double Triple, and I will have to descend it then, so, since I just climbed it, why not? So I told Eric I was headed back to where we started, and I headed on down. Sure it was a bit nerve racking, especially given I am on a rental bike (and a rental never “feels” the same as your own), but I made it down fine, holding her steady around 30 mph. Here is the read out of the ride.
Spending a couple of hours working hard at an average altitude of about 11,000 ft. above sea level is quite an experience, but for me, overcoming that very visceral, very real fear of the heights associated with such a ride was the real victory of the day. I have three weeks until the Triple By Pass, and I am really looking forward to the completion of many months of training and effort with that single day, 120 mile, 11,000 ft. effort.