We were in Colorado for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to catch Stage 5 in Breckenridge this past weekend (August 24th). While here Dallin decided that he’d love to try Vail Pass. I had run down it before as training for the Steamboat Half Marathon, and knew it was 12 miles downhill from the Rest Area to the Frisco Rec Path parking at the West Exit on I-70.
Elevation Profile for Biking Vail Pass from Google Earth – distance-based
We loaded up our bikes in the car (some disassembly required) and took off on Saturday morning (August 25th) and parked at the Frisco Rec Path parking. We put the bikes together and took off up the trail. It was pretty easy going for the first 3 miles, and we stopped at the Officer’s Gulch rest stop to use the bathrooms and snack. I was trying to keep him hydrated and sugared up. He had his Flexline Hydration system on his bike, so he had easy access to water while on the path up. He also had a second bottle for when we were stopped.
In Copper Mountain we stayed off the rec path and followed the roads to the end of the condo area, where we got back on the path by the creek. We stopped again for a few minutes, just a little after mile 6. Dallin took off a few minutes before me, and I had to work hard to catch him. As I passed an older guy on the trail he said “your son is flying – it’ll be hard to catch him”.
Vail Pass ride from Polar RS800CX Graph
I managed to catch him in about 3 miles, and he was moving pretty quick for how steep it was. We pulled over at a bridge to rest and eat for a few minutes, before the final mile. Dallin said he was sure glad to have the Flexline since he didn’t think he could have gone up that hill so fast while trying to use a regular bottle. I was going to try to get some video on this section, but it wasn’t working out at all today.
We made it to the top in about 11.7 miles and 1900′ of vertical. We hung out for a while eating and drinking. Currently the Vail Pass Rest Area is dry – they turned off the water last year and took out all the sinks. We did a lap of the rest area to rewarm our legs, then went down. We managed to go fairly slow for a bit until we got to Copper Mountain. We stopped at the gas station on the East side of Copper to use the bathrooms, then continued.
I led, doing a little fartlek to give him a good experience. I managed to pull him along at 26 mph for a while, probably the fastest he’s gone for any length of time. We got to the car and broke down the bikes, and went to Abbeys for our traditional croissant sandwich before going home to hang out in the hot tub. All together it was 23.3 miles in 2:57. Not too bad for his second > 20 mile ride, and this time with nearly 2000′ of vertical.
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