After an already-busy weekend in the mountains spent skiing 14ers, I decided I still needed to get exercise before the Independence Day heat hit. I once again was in bed early, and once again was up at 4:30 without the help of an alarm. Unfortunately, there were no new-to-me 14ers that were close enough to get to and back before going to celebrate with friends in the afternoon. On the other hand, the weather was going to be perfect for riding up Mt. Evans, something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. I elected to start from Idaho Springs, some 6,700′ below the highpoint of the road, and was rolling by 6:45am.
This scenery was pretty consistent until hitting the illegal USFS fee station, where they deceive the public in to paying for access to a state owned and maintained highway. About an hour and a half in to the ride, the scenery starts to change a bit.
The trees start thinning and getting smaller, occasional snowdrifts appear, and you start getting a better view of the mountain.
I had read about the horrible condition of the road, but was surprised at how (relatively) smooth it was, with the exception of a half-mile or so near Summit Lake that was in rather poor condition.
Past Summit Lake is where the challenge really begins. You’re over 20 miles in, have gained nearly 6,000′ (to an elevation over 13,000′), and if you’re like me, have already been climbing for more than two hours non-stop. And if that’s not enough, suddenly there are goats hanging out in the middle of the road.
It cooled off a bit which was nice, but it steepened up and just did not relent.
But suddenly, after three hours, 27.5 miles, and 6,700′ of climbing, the summit appears, and it all becomes worth it.
The best part, of course, is saved for last. A blazing-fast descent from mountaintop to town, through all the different ecosystems, in under an hour.