2014 Breck Epic

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So a brief summary of 2014 Breck Epic…

Stage 1, the course was a bit different at the end thanks to logging… the last few miles was on fast hard packed logging roads. Day 1 ended with a time 20 minutes faster than my previous year, and I felt quite good after. I tried not to get too excited but I didn’t try hard enough because on Stage 2 I was kicking ass again.

On Stage 2 based on the crowd I found myself In I was doing quite well… then 2/3 of the way through the stage I crashed harder than I have ever crashed since I broke my collarbone a few years ago. It was a WTF just happened and “where the Hell am ???” type crash. After a few minutes of getting over the sudden wave of nausea, checking for broken bones or torn muscles, then several minutes looking for my water bottles and my Garmin then checking for dangerous damage to my bike, I feebly got rolling again. As I crested Blair Witch I started to feel a bit better… Then I came across the support crew for the Japanese National Champion pushing along what I thought was his bike… I was thinking WTF again… then within about a mile from the last aid station I saw a rescue crew carrying him out! Holy shit! As I rolled through the last aid station I recall three ambulances, two of which were loading someone in on a stretcher with an IV drip attached… I was lucky I wasn’t one of them. The last stretch of stage 2 was the usually painful, frustrating climb back to Breckenridge (those who have raced in Breck know this climb, ugh). I still finished ahead of my previous stage 2 finish time. I don’t know exactly but it seems I was nearly 10 minutes better and that included probably 10 minutes on the side of the trail licking wounds.

Stage 3 should have been more fun than it was, but it was still fun. I woke up with the entire right side of my back from my mid back down below my gluts bruised purple… it hurt to touch. I figured I would start the race, but I was thinking of bail out points before I even lined up that morning. We got off to a bit of a fast start, but had the usual waiting line at the trailhead where someone crashed and blocked the entrance. It was a nice minute or two to catch my breath and assess how I was feeling. I kept going. As I came through the first aid station, which was the last “easy” bail out point, I mostly felt good. So I continued up to French Pass. I was motivated, French Pass is Beautiful!!! I wanted to at least get there to see it again, but I found some good strength and rode all the way to the first hike-a-bike despite the many walkers I had to pass. Kick ass! Coming down French pass was a bit different though, knowing how badly I already hurt from the previous days crash, another hard landing would have me out of the race completely. And this was bad, because the descent down French Pass does not allow for any fear, uncertainty, or hesitation… I did a good job of setting all that aside. A part of the descent was super washed out with (what seemed like) a 3 foot drop that I hit pretty much at full speed.  As I floated through the air impending doom filled my brain as I realized I had to negotiate a left hand bend and I had yet to make it wheels down. Suddenly bam! I was on dirt again and displayed some awesome skill (in my mind anyway) of ripping the left hander. Eventually I caught traffic, and game over… I was heavy on the brakes until the creek crossing which even after that I somehow was in a lot of traffic so I couldn’t rip down to aid 2 like I did last year. It was still fun. Then it was up to Georgia Pass, which was uneventful especially since it was not raining and thundering and hailing like last year! Coming down the Co trail though I let my injuries take the best of me mentally, that was not a good descent, and my own hesitation had me get caught by a few people and nearly crash a couple of times as well… sigh… but then is was over through American Gulch and over one last big climb down to the finish… Overall I recall being about five minutes faster than I was in 2013 but the course was a few miles shorter, so normalized I was a bit slower on that day compared to last year…

Stage 4 was the usual ouch… I woke up even more sore than the previous day, the bruise had spread, and I ached all over… these things I expected, but I felt without doubt I’d be fine once I got rolling, and I was. So I made it to Vomit Hill, this year I was riding in quite a crowd where last year I was mostly alone. Got to the top of Vomit, back down, behind Keystone then back up to descend the Colorado trail a different way. Confidence was good today until my helmet came loose. Evidently my impact from stage 2 popped parts of the internal retention system out. So as I was descending the Colorado trail at break neck speed my helmet kept slipping and blocking my vision… I was forced to slow down because of this. I got to the aid station, and a super helpful lady working the aid station took my helmet, saw the part that popped apart, fixed it for me, and sent me on my way! The support at Breck Epic is awesome, much like the experiences at the Gunnison Growler! Just awesome race support! So I ended stage 4 a little better off than 2014 again, though disappointed because I felt I could have done better and could see in my Strava times I was descending slower. I was paying the price of having my confidence blown from my Stage 2 crash…

Stage 5 the daunting Wheeler Pass stage… another stage where lack of confidence can have a bad result, but luckily I played it safe and smart. Stage 5 the start was a bit different, maybe better than 2013, maybe a bit worse…? I can’t decide… probably a better start route I think. Stage 5 takes racers from the base of the Breck ski resort at about 9,800 ft in altitude over the top of Wheeler Pass at 12,600 feet over a short distance of maybe 5 miles. Parts of the course are so steep it is hard to hike! I had a fair start, I seemed I went out at it pretty hard on the Burro trail then got into a log jam which probably prevented me from blowing myself up. At the time I really wanted to get around the log jam and race harder, but in hind site, being forced to dial it back was a good thing. I realized this when I blew up on the last 3-4 miles of the stage! So up and over Wheeler, always a sense of accomplishment on that! Coming down I had zero confidence, kept locking my elbows and shoulders and riding off the edge of the trail. I got to a couple of wet sections and walked them even though I know I could have ridden them… there were some injuries on this descent down to the Copper area last year and I can see how they could happen. So I was slow, got passed probably by ten people… Got to the bike path section and hauled ass but so did everyone else… I think I only caught back maybe two or three people. Through the aid, then the not all that fun Miner Road trail, although it did not seem as bad this year, could have been to that I wasn’t having asthma issues and it wasn’t so hot (in fact it was ongoing to rain). Once I got to the final fun single track my legs said “no thank you, go F’ yourself”… So on some of the funnest sections of trail on Stage 5 I found myself peddling along rather than rippin’ it up… good thing I didn’t blow up sooner.  I still came out about 5 minutes better than the previous year, again though the course was a bit shorter I think with a different start route.

Stage 6, oops my fault… too much chit chat and I found myself starting nearly at the complete back. So I hit every bottle neck until Boreas Pass road. Not to mention I had to stop to pee which I made a bad choice of places and had a hell of a time getting back into the congo line… Finally the Gold Rush trail, it was wet and muddy, and it was fun. Once again though stuck behind others so I didn’t race as fast as I think I could have until I finally made a pass in the last 500 yards of trail, a bit too late… Actually caught a few other on the dirt road climb back to the top of Boreas and dropped them! I “attacked” and won! I made them suffer at my wheel! Ha ha… As with last year I took the final descent in a calm and safe manner, no need to really get hurt! I was slow at the end, 20 minutes slow.

In the end, my overall time was only 10 minutes off my 2013 time. The competition was stiff though. With about roughly the same overall time I finished 20 in my category in 2013, this year I finished 40 (out of 90 I think). 

My favorite quote from a racer from Chili as we pushed up the last 100 yards of “Little French Gulch” on day one: “Oh my God, I thought I was so strong, I thought this would be easier than it is!” I smiled and tried not to laugh out loud… that made my entire race week though!

So 2015, am I a fool, am I stupid, can I do it? I signed up to race in the Single Speed category… Yep… I was awarded the “Bad Mo’ Fo’” badges the past two years but I’m thinking Single Speed is an entirely different category of “Bad Mo’ Fo’s”. Right now I ask myself “WHAT HAVE I DONE???”

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