Breck Epic Stage 2 Colorado Trail:
I woke up Monday morning not sure what to expect. Altitude, exertion, unfamiliar surroundings… although I fell asleep quickly the night before I didn’t exactly feel refreshed. However, the morning routine was easy to make habit: coffee, breakfast, drop bags, a little more food and hydration, dress, go to start.
The second day the stage started in town on a side street from the center of downtown Breckenridge. It was kind of cold this morning, and I found myself searching for a bathroom rather than warming up. This had me once again a bit further back at the start than I should have been. Lesson learned again I guess. The stages were short enough that being bottled up at the start could have an affect on overall time.
The start was crowded and after the neutral roll out for several miles we turned up the first double track dirt road climb. Really I suppose if I wanted there was room to pass on this initial climb, but it would have required taking the dirty line, which would have burned some extra energy. So I mostly sat in passing only when there was a clear opportunity.
After a few miles of the double track, a short bit of pavement, more dirt road, we came to our first time at Heinous Hill. The name describes it. It started out very wet and slippery and twisted and turned for some ways. Almost all of it was rideable, even with my 1×10 32×12-36 setup. However a few time traffic was in the way and attempts to go around lead to riding a rut full of loose rocks, which lead to walking…
After this big climb things started to sort out as there was a fast and long descent to the first super wicked single track of the day. I think it was called the Galena Ditch Trail, basically the trail was on the top of a dirt wall that was once side of a ditch once used for mining. The wall was overgrown with trees and was pretty flat. Sometimes it was a bit narrow, but overall it was easy and fun, and a section that could be ridden fast. That ended at the next intersection though…
We turned up again, onto I think the Rock Island Gulch trail. That was an all out slug fest, steep but luckily reasonably hard packed. Most of the climb there would be about 5 minutes of pedaling followed by five minutes of walking, repeating for 20-30 minutes. In my opinion this hill was harder than Heinous Hill. Eventually that climb was finished and we descended into the first aid station.
After the first aid station the course made its way to the Colorado Trail, a familiar climb from the RME Breck races. I knew that climb well enough to motor up it at a pretty good pace. When I crested the top and started the more technical and fast descent I found myself completely alone… for minutes I was afraid I missed a turn! At every hairpin I was studying the tire track to determine if they looked fresh, eventually one of the Enduro racers caught me. Damn he was descending fast! I don’t have the stones to descend like that!
Finally the course took an unfamiliar turn onto some of the most awesome single track I’ve ridden. I think this part was called the Blair Witch Trail. It’s really hard to put it to words how awesome it was… fast descending in the trees, through washes with creeks at the bottom, some steep little drop-ins, then out onto a mountain meadow. The grasses were tall, visibility was limited to about 30 feet, but it was big ring fast and tacky! Every turn was just leaning the bike down railing it at full gas… so much fun!
Then the climb back out took in some great scenery again. Although, the weather was threatening with really REALLY dark clouds and thunder. A few huge raindrops fell but somehow an all out storm was avoided. I made it through the second aid station without issue. The rest of the day was a fairly familiar ride back to Breck, up dreaded unrelenting climbs that were only at about 4%, but they went on for what seemed forever!
I finished up feeling quite invigorated and almost crashed into the finish. At this point I found the first best thing for recovery was a Coca-Cola and some Fig Newtons. I hung out long enough to get that down and then had about a 15 minute ride back to the Breck Epic Camp to drop my bike at the WD-40 bike wash. Then I went directly to eat and drink recovery back at the condo.
Stage 2 was awesome fun! The body responded. I felt “normal” on the bike all day. I stayed upright, no mechanicals, and didn’t push myself too hard.