Memories of the 1980 Mt. Evans Hill Climb & Yoghurt!

Memories of the 1980 Mt. Evans Hill Climb & Yoghurt!

By Bob Shaver

A few weeks prior to the race, Jonathan Boyer, my former teammate on the French team, ACBB-Peugeot, contacted me about the race as he and a couple of his French teammates were looking for races to use as preparation for the upcoming Coors Classic. He said he remembered me talking about the Mt Evans Hill Climb on several occasions and was eager to test his mettle against the mountain and the now famous Bob Cook.

The addition of Boyer and mates added to an already stellar lineup for Mt Evans. As much as the Cookie Monster tried to hide it, his concern showed. He was stoic of course, but I could tell he was flustered. Maybe it was the way he said, “This could be interesting….” We all know that feeling: “Who invited these people to my party?”

It was wonderful to land Mountain High Yoghurt as a major sponsor. We had a perfect race for their product image and tie in. The sponsorship also added to the race’s credibility and exposure (to non-racers of course!).  And, in addition to some sponsorship money, they came through with enough yoghurt to feed the riders and the City of Idaho Springs for several days! In fact there was so much of it that we had to pick it up (with lots of ice) at the plant in Denver at 4 am the morning of race.

Everyone has seen overloaded pickups where there’s so much weight in the back, the front wheels are nearly off the ground. That was us! The truck we had was not quite half the size of a conventional pickup and accordingly, under powered.

It was decided that the lead car would be the truck with the yoghurt as it was critical to keep it cold and the ice was rapidly melting, so it was best kept it at altitude.

We all know how the Mt Evans race unfolds; with a substantial break at the first hairpin at Chicago Creek and pretty much the survivors of that group stay intact until just after Echo Lake. This was a bit different since there was more horse power in the peloton this year. If memory serves, there were 15-20 in the lead breakaway.

Just after the ranger station the pace picked up, driven by Cook and Boyer which shattered the pack. With just Cook, Boyer and a couple of other riders, the pace settled down (which was a good thing as the riders were nipping at our heels/rear bumper in the overloaded truck!).

Just before Summit Lake, Cook attacked. In the rearview mirror, I could see Cook, who had opened a decent gap between he and Boyer, was closing in on us so I floored the gas pedal to establish a safe gap between us and Bob. I looked down at the speedometer which read, to my surprise 25+mph! I looked back up in the rearview mirror and Cook was about to pass us! Luckily we hit the descent into Summit Lake and took this opportunity to establish a gap of our own.

Boyer lasted a bit longer; I can’t remember if Cook attacked or his relentless climbing pace that shattered Boyer. But I do remember Cook won by a nice margin.

After the race, Boyer told me, “I don’t know many people who could stay with that guy on that mountain, it’s insane.”

The party crashers were of little consequence. The Cookie Monster need not have worried.

Author Bob Shaver raced from 1971-1978. During that time he won 52 category one races including: Morgul Bismarck, Boulder Mountain Road Race, Black Hills Stage Race, Keystone Stage Race, Tesistan International Road Race, Jalisco, Mexico, Larimer Square Pro Am Criterium, Flagstaff Hill Climb. In 1976 he was one of the first Americans to race in Europe (France on ACBB Peugeot). In 1977 he was the Best All Around Rider Western US. He has organized and directed both competitive races and recreational rides. Most notably Mt Evans in 1980 & the first Copper Triangle in 1999. In 2009 Bob was one of 5 people appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to create the framework for a multiday professional bike race in Colorado. Two years later, in 2011, the USA Pro Challenge was born.
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