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Riding the Triple Bypass for the First Time (on a Specialized Roubaix)

The Triple Bypass is an epic, bucket-list road cycling event right in our own backyard. Ethan Martin went there this year to test himself and his Specialized Roubaix against the course's three legendary mountain passes.

Written by: Ethan Martin

Published on:

Posted in:Features

Ethan (left) completed the Triple Bypass with his friend Jamie. 

The Triple Bypass has been going since 1988, and every summer it attracts thousands of riders from around the world who want to test themselves against the epic mountain passes of the Colorado Rockies. As a charitable event, it has also been able to donate millions of dollars to multiple charitable non-profits.

The 117-mile-long course starts in Evergreen and ends in Avon, Colorado. The Triple Bypass gets its name from the three high mountain passes riders have to complete: Juniper Pass (11,140 ft.), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft.), and Vail Pass (10,560 ft.). Riders will have to deal with tough climbs, fast descents, high elevation, and unpredictable mountain weather.

This year, our Product Manager, Ethan Martin, got the chance to ride the Triple Bypass. He took his Specialized Roubaix, which he purchased from TPC, and had a pretty good day in the saddle. Let’s hear how his Bypass experience went and take a closer look at his road bike. 

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Riding the 2023 Triple Bypass

2023 Triple Bypass start

"This was my first time doing the Triple Bypass. I'd been wanting to ride it for a long time. I actually wasn't planning on it this year, but a buddy transferred me his registration since he couldn't make it. It was also my first 10,000-foot day (and my second longest day by mileage, after a 125-mile day earlier this month)."

"I did have a few pre-ride anxieties:

  • I needed to switch to my backup wheels since I had some hub issues on my primary wheelset. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise though, since I otherwise wouldn't have noticed the big gash in my front tire's sidewall. I’m really glad I didn't ride with that. I don't want my tire blowing out at 45 mph down a mountain pass (I still run tubes).
  • I'd only been at elevation for a week, following 3 weeks at sea level. Would my lungs work?
  • A few days prior, I tried out new shoes and cleats and didn't get the position dialed, so my knees were hurting a bit from that. I was hoping that switching back to my old shoes and cleats would make everything better.

2023 Triple Bypass Georgetown trainExcellent timing in Georgetown as we got to ride directly under the train as it set off.

"The day-of logistics worked out well. I rode with my buddy Jamie. I picked him up in the morning and we found an open parking spot not far from the start in Evergreen. Since it’s point-to-point, a lot of riders take a shuttle from the finish back to the start. But my buddy’s wife left a car for us up in Avon to get home."

2023 Triple Bypass bike ride"My knees felt good enough at the start, so I put in a modest effort on the timed uphill section on Juniper pass. I guess the transfer of the registration messed things up though cuz neither my name nor my friend from whom I got the registration wound up in the official ride results at the end of the day. Oh well."

2023 Triple Bypass perfect weather"The weather was perfect; not a drop of rain. It was a little chilly on the first couple of descents, but not too bad. I started dragging just before the Loveland climb and started a habit of getting dropped by my buddy. I started to feel the altitude a bit at the top of Loveland, but the descent reenergized me for the rest of the day."

2023 Triple Bypass"The ride was really well-run. They have their process really dialed in. The aid stations had good food, plenty of drinks, and not many lines. SAG vehicles seemed to be where they needed to be to help folks out, and the open start window seemed to help disperse the crowds nicely.

"At about mile 80 my knees really started to hurt, so I had to slow down even more and hope I wasn't doing any permanent damage. The last 40 miles were rough, but at least the last climb up and over Vail Pass was the mildest. A headwind through Vail really bummed me out, but it seemed to fade out (and maybe even turn into a tailwind?) as we approached Avon, so the homestretch wound up being fairly fast even though it started slow."

2023 Triple Bypass finish"My knees were hurting pretty bad by the end of it. But surprisingly, I didn't suffer too badly from the elevation, and I did a pretty good job of eating and drinking all day, so other than my poor knees, I felt pretty good. I'm hoping that next year I'll be able to do it again with my knees intact and really hammer it to see if I can keep up with Jamie!"

- Ethan Martin

Ed Note: If you're having knee issues like Ethan, consider getting a professional bike fit! I resolved my own knee issues with help from Retul

Ethan’s Triple Bypass Bike: 2020 Specialized Roubaix Comp

2020 Specialized Roubaix Comp[product-block handle="2020-specialized-roubaix-l-8"/]

Frame: 2020 Specialized Roubaix
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 50/34t, 175mm
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra RX R8000
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 11-34t
Chain: Shimano Ultegra HG-701
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Handlebars: Specialized Hover Alloy
Stem: Specialized Future Comp Alloy
Seatpost: Specialized S-Works Pavé SL
Saddle: Specialized Power Comp
Wheels: DT Swiss R 470 db
Tires: Continental Grand Prix 5000 
​​Power Meter: 4iiii PRECISION 3 Left Crank Arm

Ethan rode his 2020 Specialized Roubaix Comp. The Roubaix is Specialized’s endurance road bike, which has a more upright and comfortable riding position. It is designed to enhance compliance for long endurance rides and rough roads. 

2020 Specialized Roubaix CompThe 2020 Roubaix Comp uses the Future Shock 1.5 headset. A spring under the stem provides 20mm of travel to soak up bumps and vibration. Unlike the Future Shock 2.0 used on the higher-end S-Works Roubaix, Roubaix Pro, and Roubaix Expert, there’s no dial to instantly adjust the firmness, but the spring can be swapped out to a heavier or lighter spring to suit different riders and preferences.

Ethan’s bike is mostly stock. It came with the previous 11-speed Shimano Ultegra generation. The Roubaix came with an Ultegra RX rear derailleur, which adds a clutch to improve chain retention on rough and bumpy roads. Ethan ran compact 50/34t chainrings with an 11-34t cassette, so he had a 1-to-1 granny gear for the steepest gradients.

“The gearing was perfect,” Ethan said. “Easy enough for the toughest climbs.”

[product-block handle="4iiii-precision-3-power-meter-shimano-105-r7000-left-crank-arm"/]

The one major upgrade Ethan added was a 4iiii power meter. The design of Shimano Hollowtech II cranksets makes adding a left crank arm power meter super easy, and 4iiii is one of the best in the business. Having power data and knowing your power zones makes it easier to pace yourself up long, arduous climbs.

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