Kamins conquers Colorado's Triple Bypass
Published 1:08 am, Friday, October 30, 2009
If you believe it you can achieve it. Such is the case with Arlo Ellison, who along with more experienced cyclist Harold Kamins, did a one-day, 120-mile bike ride that kicked off in Evergreen, Colorado.
Whereas Kamins, who is in 50s, competes in triathlons, Ellison, who recently turned 50 and has four daughters, hadn`t exactly been hitting the pavement. He had only competed in one race -- a local 62-mile MS bike tour -- in the last 14 years.
However, when he was on summer vacation with his family in Vail, Colorado last year, he saw a group of cyclists flying through town that were participating in the bike ride he would do a year later. It`s called The Triple Bypass. Why? The 120-mile trek includes climbing and descending three of Colorado`s highest peaks. The passing cyclists that Ellison saw on vacation inspired him. He thought it looked cool and when he returned home, he ditched his 15-year-old bicycle and made a trip to a local bike shop for a new one.
It just so happened that during that shopping trip he ran into his friend Kamins. Ellison revealed he was planning to do something out of line from his daily routine at that point. Kamins told Ellison he did the ride the last two years and was planning to do it again. From there, the friends began training together in preparation for Colorado.
"It`s a huge physical, mental and emotional challenge," said Ellison. "To have the benefit of the experience of someone who has done this to help me deal with it was fantastic."
The ride is a popular one. Ellison and everyone else couldn`t register for the race until January 1. When that day arrives, you better get up early. Sleep in and you might lose the opportunity to be a part of it. According to Ellison, 3,500 people do the ride.
When spring arrived, Ellison realized he had to switch up his training routine to better prepare for the ride. He began cycling 20-30 miles a day on weekdays and on weekends, he would attempt 40 miles a day.
"I could go that far and really I felt pretty good," said Ellison. "I was thinking maybe there`s a chance I could be in shape to actually do this."
Ellison subsequently joined the Sound Cyclists, which helped him get familiar with riding in close proximity to others. The first time he went out with the group, on a 56-mile ride, he was dying halfway through. However, he stuck it out and felt strong at the finish. He would also train with another cycling group called the Hat City Cyclists.
Cycling was becoming addicting.
"You feel so very alive, so very thrilled with life," said Ellison. "Barreling down Compo Road, drafting off each other, at 25 to 30 miles an hour."
Ellison become fairly confident he could handle The Triple Bypass. Two weeks before the event, he did a 100-mile ride. However, there were no mountain passes on which to cycle like the ones he would have to handle in Colorado, which started at an elevation of 7.600 feet and rose to an 11,400 foot elevation.
One of the climbs started at about 6 a.m and took almost two hours.
"Part of the [cycling] experience is the camaraderie, the people involved," said Ellison. "The second part of it is the physical challenge and the third part is the scenic beauty."
Of course, the cyclists stopped and took a fair amount of time to appreciate the views whenever they scaled a mountain pass. The effort to reach the top made the view all the better.
When Ellison reached the end of The Triple Bypass, his wife, two of his daughters and his brother Greg and his family were there to greet him. In fact, Ellison inspired his brother to get on a bike.
"He`s never owned a road bike in his life," said Ellison. Greg is now in training and plans to do The Triple Bypass next year.
"It`s a totally unintended but wonderful consequence," said Ellison, who said he started doing this for himself.
"Maybe it`s a midlife crisis."
When Ellison was younger, he used to bike a lot more. In his lifetime, he`s probably done 10 rides that were 62 miles long. But that was before his fourth daughter, a teenager now, arrived on the scene.
The way Ellison puts it, three daughters were manageable. Somehow he found the time to bike on the regular. But when the family included four children, it just made finding time for training for rides impossible. Ellison jokes that his daughters are now at the age -- they span 14 to 21 -- where they "would rather be with their friends than me."
Fortunately, his wife still likes being around him. In fact, she`s also been inspired to get on a bike. She won`t be competing in The Triple Bypass but she`ll bike around the neighborhood on a nice day.
When Ellison first informed her he`d be doing The Triple Bypass, she pretty much thought he had lost his mind. But then, like any good wife, she supported his endeavor. The Colorado ride took about nine hours with rest stops along the way.
Once Ellison got a taste of long-distance racing over the summer, he couldn`t wait to do it again. In fact, he, Kamin and a couple of Kamins` friends biked from Barcelona, Spain to the Atlantic Ocean early this fall. Their 525-mile, week-long journey included going across the Pyrenees Mountains. They climbed some of the biggest mountains featured in the Tour de France. Along the way, they had espresso, stopped for croissants and enjoyed all that Europe had to offer.
"From a physical perspective, the ride in Colorado was longer than any one day in Spain or France," said Ellison. "The climbs were much steeper but you did it day after day, for a week. In Colorado, it was one day, you recover and then life is good."
From Colorado to Europe, Kamins was there, serving as a sort of mentor to Ellison and helped him get through it all. Attempts to reach Kamins for this story -- he was away on vacation -- were unsuccessful.
If Ellison is having a midlife crisis, he said doesn`t need a mistress or a sport car. A bike and road to travel on is good enough for him.
"I`ve got energy, excitement, enthusiasm for life. It`s not so much the accomplishment that turned me on," said Ellison, who then purposely made up a new word. "It`s passionating. It makes you feel you`re engaged in life."