Whether you’re doing one day of the Triple Bypass or going big for the Double Triple challenge, the key to having a successful ride is endurance, endurance, endurance! You’ll need the muscular endurance to grind up the long mountain passes and the aerobic endurance to power your legs at those lung-searing altitudes.
The first climb to Juniper Pass is a moderate 4% grade and you should be riding a Tempo to Sweet Spot effort here. The grade can make you want to ride harder, but remember, you have 2 more high altitude climbs to tackle! It’s important to hold a steady effort with a more aerobic cadence, as much as your gearing allows. This is not the place to treat the ride like a race, keep to your own steady pace!
The second climb, Idaho Springs to Loveland Pass, can be broken down into 3 steps: Idaho Springs to Georgetown, Georgetown to Bakerville, and Bakerville to the top of the pass. The first leg to Georgetown is really a false flat so join a group and work a draft! You can go fast and keep your cadence quick to save your leg muscles. From Georgetown, the climb kicks up to 3% and you’ll settle into your climbing Tempo again but keep your cadence up, things are going to get steeper! From Bakerville to the top of Loveland Pass, the average grade is over 5%. This is where you’ll be grinding your lowest gear and relying on your leg strength to power you to the top.
Catch a breather on the descent into Keystone and let your heart rate come down. The final climb up Vail Pass is slightly more than a false flat at about a 2% grade so if you’ve paced the other 2 passes well, you should be able to hold a steady low Tempo effort to the top!
That’s a lot of Tempo riding and even more altitude so it’s important to spend time training for both! Tempo and Sweet Spot rides during the week are key as well as long days in the saddle on the weekend. As July gets closer, the weekend rides are best done at altitude to help prepare your body for the challenge ahead. And Sunday Muscle Tension Intervals after long Saturday rides will get your system ready to endure the steeper grades on Loveland pass when you already have some fatigue built up on the ride.
Unless you live in Eagle or some other alpine hamlet, the watts you’re riding in training at home aren’t going to be the same watts you’ll ride in the Triple. As the elevation increases, your threshold effectively decreases. You can see how this well-trained athlete’s heart rate increased with the altitude on her way from Idaho Springs up to Loveland Pass even though her watts were holding steady. In a high altitude ride like the Triple, it’s much better to pace yourself by heart rate than watts.
If you want to read more about how altitude affects your racing, check out Coach Jake’s in-depth article here.
What Goes Up…
It’s important to be confident in your descending skills for this ride! Make sure your brakes are well tuned and learn to relax in your drop bars because that is where you are the most stable. Bend your elbows and relax your arms, those are your shock absorbers! Push your sternum to your stem to lower your center of gravity and center your weight between your wheels. For even more stability, clamp your bike’s top tube with your knees. And most importantly, breathe as you enjoy the fruits of your labor! The more relaxed you can be on the descents, the more energy you will save for the next climb!
Don’t Forget- Nutrition & Weather!
The Triple Bypass is a very long day in the saddle and at high altitude that can mean anything from early morning frost to warm summer temps to freezing rain. The long weekend rides at altitude are a great chance to test out your clothing so you know exactly how many layers you’ll need to bring to be ready for the unpredictable mountain weather.
Those rides are also a great time to get your nutrition dialed! If you aren’t used to eating & drinking on the bike, get in the habit by setting an alarm to go off every 20-30 minutes as a reminder on your long weekend rides. Even on event day, you don’t want to rely solely on the aid stations. Try to eat about 300 calories per hour and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The higher altitudes will dry you out faster, even at cooler temps, so it’s important to get ahead of that. You really want to start a day or 2 before the ride so your system is topped up & ready to go! That goes for eating too!
That’s a lot to plan out which is why I’ve designed a training plan to guide you to success for only $49. You get a free TrainingPeaks Premium account with a mobile app so you can see your data and always know what to do each and every day for six weeks leading into the Triple.
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Coach Nadia is a Colorado native and a Senior Coach at FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO. She’s raced and ridden her bike all over the state and loves to “earn her turns” on long climbs and descents. You can buy FasCat’s six week interval Triple Bypass training plans designed by Nadia here.