At No 5 and the highest paved road in America was Mount Evans at a staggering 14,0130 feet.
That was a wapping 3,000 feet higher than the highest one in Europe (Pico del Veleta in Spain at 11,135)
Compared to other bucket list entrants it was like taking the Galibier and sticking Alp d’Huez on top.
So Mt Evans was top.
It was originally called Mt Rosalie made famous by the landscape painter Albert Bierstat who capture the majesty of the mountain before the road was built.
Starting at the historic mining town of Idaho Springs which stands at 7,526ft (2,294m)you start the daunting 27.9 mile ascent, journeying through three life zones, passing forests, lakes and ancient trees. Although the gradient is never too steep, averaging 4.6% and topping out at 10%.
What sets Mount Evans apart from any other climb is the elevation.
Irrespective of your power weight ratio or level of fitness, it's the altitude that conspires against you.
At the top you are adversely affected by HAPE High Altitude Pulmonary Edema where you undoubtedly affected by a variety of different symptoms. The most obvious is being short of breath and short of power in your legs. Its like setting off with bungee attached to your seat post and the other end fixed to the starting point.
Each stroke you take gets incrementally harder.
I first attempted this climb on October 6th 2014 with a friend of mine Simon. Having already been in the Rockies for over a week and completed the 'Tour de Moon' Sportive in Grand Junction we both felt acclimatised and ready.
The road to the summit was closed to vehicular traffic which presented both pros and cons. Although we had the road to ourselves we also had no support if things got difficult.
Effectively we had to be 'sensible' and 'responsible' - not my greatest attributes.
Unfortunately as we left the protection of the tree-line the wind was registering over 50 mph with the possibility of it being over 70mph at the summit.
On the narrow exposed slopes cycling was dangerous and with the temperature now below freezing the exaggerated wind chill factor ripped through every layer of you're clothing.
To continue was out of the question.
To continue was out of the question.
At 11453 feet (3491 meters) we decided to head back. It was the highest I had ever been on my bike and although I was disappointed it was the right decision. I didn't say goodbye to the Mountain I just said 'Ill see you later' as if I were just going to the corner shop for some milk.
On the 21st of July 2016 I returned with a full 'Mule Train' of Dave Rees and his sons George and Harry. Although we had only had four days to acclimatise that was the only factor that was against us.
The planning and preparation left nothing to chance.
Even in the middle of summer the temperature range is often remarkable where it could be 100 degrees at the bottom yet below freezing at the top.
This time we had SAG support from the our great friend, guide and Evans 'aficionado' Rachel Simpson. As well as being all of the above, she has native blood that courses her veins, which is not lost on mother nature herself.
If you want the elements to be kind to you, usually she can arrange it, although much to her husbands disappointment she can't always influence the Colorado Rockies or Denver Broncos.
As well as her special powers Rachel brought additional drinks and vitals and just as important she was able to carry additional layers of clothing to combat the temperature changes.
We started soon after sunrise where the weather gods were kind. There was little wind and already the temperature was in the mid 80's. I have never been a climber and am used to finding a comfortable pace dictated by the gravitational pull on my 'organic saddle bags'.
On this climb it was totally different, the pace was directly related to my ability to absorb oxygen.
This in turn seemed to vary depending upon my position on the bike and my concentration on how I was actually breathing.
After some initial experimentation I found an optimum position.
If I rode with a wide stance on the top of my hoods, with my shoulders back and chest out, whilst taking in long slow extended breaths everything was easier.
This position was unusual.
As we got passed the tree-line I put on an extra pair of gloves, booties and placed some arm warmers around my wrists rolled down in preparation. The air temperature was now into single digits which was in contrast to my core temperature still close to triple digits.
I was joined on Mount Evans by many goats. Seemingly they had all flocked from neighbouring mountains fighting for roadside tickets to see my performance.
Tipped off by their cousins the 'Black Sheep' from Masham in North Yorkshire. Tickets had been selling at ridiculous prices on E-Baa
As I rode past them they moved their heads in symmetry.
Either in appreciation of my efforts or maybe they were just was mocking me.
I decided on 'goat humour'.
As I was rationalising the argument in my head I was reminded of the side effects of Oxygen deprivation. Im sure none of them induced such thoughts.
I had got an app for my phone which not only gave the altitude but also provided me with descriptions of the side effects at the various points of altitude. As I was nearing the summit i decided to have a look to see how I should be feeling.
Not put off by the crosses across the Emojis eyes I rejoiced in the fact that I was still conscious and alive. There were no notes about moving forwards like a constipated tortoise.
In order to get to the summit you have to skirt around other lesser peaks and various small lakes or tarns. When it does come into view it is way above you!
Despite the lack of Oxygen I was still able to do some basic mathematics and work out that the gradient would have to change.
The road builders clearly got frustrated or ran out of materials. Whatever it was they clearly finished the last bit on a friday afternoon !!!!
Almost within reach of the summit the road suddenly rears up like an angry rattlesnake.
The surface worn by the ravages of the elements.
Deep potholes and cracks become added challenges to the final push.
The moment you get off the bike at the top, you know you have achieved something special.
For most of the year this mountain is not accessible.
For the rest of the Year Evans herself decides whether or not she will let you.
When you are be allowed she is sure to show you something special.
At over 14,000 feet you can faintly see the curvature of the earth, Hundreds of miles around you and the full Majesty of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.
Despite the pain and exhaustion there were big smiles and a few happy tears.
She gave me a knowing look, I reckon her and Evans have had words together.