A History Lesson: Bob Cook Memorial Mt Evans Hill Climb

By Kim Nordquist of Team Evergreen Cycling

The Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb is an iconic bicycle race that takes place on the highest paved road in the United States – 14,264 feet above sea level. It was run for the first time in 1962, and has run consecutively, with the exception of 3 times, so this is considered the 51st year of the event! The race was renamed in 1981 in honor of five-time race winner Bob Cook, who died of cancer at the age of 23. Bob Cook held the course record from 1975-1980. The first three years he held the record he was a junior. The present men’s record is held by Tom Danielson, set in 2004 with a time of 1:41:20. Jeannie Longo, of France, holds the women’s course record at 1:59:19. Lachlan Morton won the race in 2015 with a time of 1:48:05 and Mara Abbot won, in 2015, with a time of 2:19:16!

The race starts in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs at an altitude of 7,540 feet and terminates at 14,130 feet, 130 feet below Mount Evans’ summit. The race is 27.4 miles in length and climbs 6,630 feet. Echo Lake to the summit averages 5.6% for 5.5 miles, then 4.1% for 2.7 miles and finally 5.7% for 4.25 miles to the top. Maximum grade is 10%. There are 11 switchbacks that you can view from the top.

19821772250_2d6ccd1165_o-1024x683This epic race is has been named one of “The Best and Hardest Climbs in the US — Add these climbs to your bucket list of must-ride spots” By Molly Hurford December 21, 2015, Bicycling. It has also been designated the 2016 Colorado State Hill Climb Championship for Masters, Senior and Junior Men and Women.

Over the years, the race has attracted well-known professional riders from all over the United States and from France, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. The age range of the participants is from nine to eighty-five years. Volunteers from the Colorado cycling community, including Team Evergreen Cycling, and Racer X Cycling, help marshal, drive support, work the feed zone and the award celebration. The event includes categories for all levels of racing and encourages riders of all abilities. Around one thousand riders compete each year in the race and Gran Fondo categories. The event offers mechanical support, a feed zone and transportation of clothing bags to the summit for the trip down the mountain. There is an award celebration in Idaho Springs for all participants and spectators.

What is the difference between Gran Fondo and USA Cycling Categories? USA Categories are for individuals interested in competitive racing and do it on a regular basis or are planning to race on a regular basis. A USAC license or 1-Day license is required for USAC categories. A BRAC membership is also required for all USAC Categories. Gran Fondo is the citizen’s event and is a timed event, but a USAC License or BRAC membership is not required. Categories are limited and they sell out quickly — register early! Registration is online, pre-registration only, no day of registration. More information at: www.bicyclerace.com or contact director@bicyclerace.com

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