No one could ever master the 7,000-foot ascent of the Mount Evans Hill Climb like Bob Cook. The tall, skinny cyclist with wire-framed glasses and even more wiry legs won the race for five consecutive years. At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, he had the highest oxygen intake of any athlete ever tested. But 1980 would mark his last hill climb. He was just 23 when he died of cancer in 1981. A few months later, the race he dominated was renamed for him.
The Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb starts today at 7,540 feet in front of Clear Creek Middle School and proceeds to Echo Lake, where the course turns to climb the 14,264-foot summit. In its 42nd year, the race attracts riders from all over the country expecting to see mountain goats, sheep, an occasional marmot and breathtaking scenery on the highest paved road in the United States.
The first race starts at 7:30 a.m.; registration is $70 for licensed cyclists, $90 for all others. And because there are categories for all levels, riders without race experience are still encouraged to sign up. Go to www.bicyclerace.com for details on parking. The post-race picnic for participants and family starts at 11 a.m. at the middle school.
Those waiting on a racer should check out Gold Rush Days in nearby Idaho Springs.