|Ima get my blog on…
4:30am: Yeah, whatever. It’d be more accurate to say that after set-up, racing and breakdown each day I’m going to go home and fall into a zombie-like sleep. But that’s ok – we’ve got folks in the race who’re picking up the slack. I’ve copied links from each Breck Epic blogger below so you can catch up on what’s happened so far. If you’re interested in results, click on the link to the homepage below…where you can then click on another link to get to the goodies.
5:15am: Just saw myself on a video posted on the homepage of the Breck Epic website. Damn am I fat. How’d that happen? I’m going to ride my bike every day for the rest of the summer.
11:41am: OK, we got the field off at 9 sharp (as usual.) To date, we haven’t had anyone get lost on course. Hats off to the moto guys and the rest of the course markers. I have to admit that it was my biggest concern going into the race. Overall I’d say that we’re off to a good start – there are some things that we’d change going into next year (like an August date so that we don’t conflict with Downieville or NATS), maybe an evening check-in the night before, and a bit more bandwidth for our Slingbox so we could actually show the tour at night as promised. Aside from that I think that we’d consider moving Race HQ to the hockey rink on the other end of town where we’d have access to less expensive indoor facilities, showers closeby and a 2 minute walk to the brewery.
Everything else though? I gotta say, apart from a little chaos on day one including check-in, some vicious weather and a poorly timed submerging of my cell phone in water we’ve been pretty close to what I’d hoped for. The courses are great, the riders are pretty amazing, nobody’s gotten lost, the food is mindblowing…and there’s LOTS of it. The swag is cool too.
Lots more less self-promotional editorial below. Thanks for checking in. And Breck Bike Week
? The bomb. Super-cool event. Pete “Superman” Swenson is killing it.
- Wednesday, July 8, Stage 4 – The Circumnavigation of Mt. Guyot. Starts at Upper Blue at 9am, finishes at Bomber Trailhead on French Gulch Road
- Thursday, July 9th, Stage 5 – The Wheeler Trail. Starts at Upper Blue at 9am, finishes at the Peak 8 Base Area at Breckeridge Ski Resort
- Friday, July 10th, Stage 6 – The Gold Dust Trail. Starts and finishes at the Stephen C. West Hockey Arena on Boreas Pass Road.
Jen Hanks – POSTED BELOW
Mary Monroe and Heather Szabo – HERE
Tomi McMillar – Coming tonight!
For other kick-ass blogs and race coverage, head here:
The GreenSpeed Project
Distinctive Backcountry Events in Support of Open Space
JEN HANKS BLOG DAY ONE: A Day in Contrasts
First off, I am so excited to be here. I have lived less than 7 hours away for the past 10 years, however I have never ventured to Breckenridge. An Epic mountain bike race is the perfect excuse. I arrived Thursday night and have been giddy with excitement. since I’m also pretty much freaked about what lies ahead over the next 5 days. This I know. We have a total of 6 days of mountain bike racing covering 200+ miles and 40,000 vertical feet of climbing mostly above 10,000 feet. Hence my being a bit freaked, in an excited having a hard time falling asleep, kind of way.
Today I woke up to sunny skies. That seemed to be a good start to the day. It was nice to sleep in one last time, as today’s short prologue stage was not to start until 3:00 PM. Registration opened at 10:00 sharp this morning at Blue Mound Elementary. This will be the race headquarters for the next week where vendors are set up, racers will eat and many will camp, as well as where daily awards ceremony and Tour de France coverage will be. Registration went smooth and I finally met race promoter extraordinaire, Mike McCormack. I am so happy that Mike decided to put on a Mountain Bike stage race in the US and thus far Breckenridge seems the perfect venue. Our race packets included the coolest jersey ever, an actual women’s t-shirt that is flattering, custom Breck Epic Crankbrothers hand pump, sweet argyle socks, 2 drop bags for aid stations, Squirt lube (the best chain lube ever), Stans tire sealant, and random Hammer nutrition products. I must say that this is the BEST swag bag that I have ever gotten at a race. The jersey is so nice I don’t want to take it off. Maybe I’ll have to sleep in it tonight! And this is the first epic event where I actually got a t-shirt that is made for women.
At registration I was told that my starting time for the prologue would be 3:03:30 PM. I would be one of the first off in the time-trial. The stage called for approximately 9 miles of climbing with an elevation gain of 3000 feet. We were to ride up a good part of yesterday’s Marathon National Championship’s final downhill. Apparently the course was shortened a bit as my GPS indicated more like 5 miles and 1700 feet of vertical ascent. This did not bother me because at about 2:30 the skies opened up and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. I guess you can’t take the high mountain climate for granted. This hampered my pre-race warm-up, but all the Solo Women were starting in similar conditions. The rain continued for about the first 30 minutes of my time trial and then the sun peaked out and it actually felt warm when I crested to the finish at about 11,000feet. Overall, today’s stage was really fun for an all-climbing stage. The trail was primarily singletrack with lots of switchbacks and held up really well in the wet conditions. I was pleased with my performance in that I was able to pass two racers and did not get passed. I finished in just over 52 minutes about 2 minutes behind the first place solo woman. However with 5 more days of racing with anticipated daily times over 4 hours, today’s result is pretty insignificant.
Hopefully, I’ll get some good rest tonight and I’m really looking forward to racing hard and exploring the rest of Breckenridge’s trails.
JEN HANKS BLOG DAY TWO: The CT. Capital C. Capital T. Capital Whee.
Today was the first significant stage of the Breck Epic. Today’s stage was called the Colorado loop. Race promoter Mike McCormack promised fantastic singletrack and the course did not disappoint. Daily stats called for 36 miles and 5000+ feet of climbing. This was trimmed down from the original 41 miles with 7000+ feet of climbing because the program that mapped the course tended to error on the side of more miles and more climbing. Despite the so-called shorter course, it was plenty hard at 10,000+ feet of elevation.
We started at 9:00 sharp at race headquarters. Once again it was a beautiful morning and racers were able to shed their layers before the start. The top three in each category were called to the line for preferred staging, however position off the start was really a non-issue as it was a neutral start on the road for over a mile. Once we hit dirt, we climbed to what felt like the top of the world. I felt pretty good on the climb, however my speed was not as fast as I would have liked. I guess that is what you say when your main competition is riding away from you! Once we summited, we were rewarded with a super fun singletrack downhill. Unfortunately after working so hard on the climb, the downhill went by relatively fast. Before I knew it I was climbing back up to the top of the world! The second major downhill of the day did not disappoint. It was plenty rough but my full suspension bike glided over the rocks and flew around the switchbacks. This forested singletrack spit us out into a meadow for more downhill fun. This downhill section was quite possibly the most fun downhill that I’ve ridden in an Epic race. That includes both the TransAlp and TransRockies! At the bottom of the downhill there was a relatively flat section with some TransRockies style mud bogs. It was here that I endo’d (over the bars) pretty comically when one of the bogs ended up being bottomless.
Soon after we came out onto one of the few road sections of the day and to aide station #2. My support helped me change camelbacks and restock food before I headed out to finish the last leg of the race. I rode along the pavement really wishing that someone were nearby to provide a draft. We then climbed another gravel road, rode some tight singletrack to the final downhill. My finishing time was somewhere under 4 hours. Although I finished a respectable 3rd place in the Solo Women’s category, the leaders put some time on me today.
Tomorrow we get to race the Pennsylvania Loop. It looks to be fairly short distance-wise with a lot of steep climbing. The terrain is reported to be quite rugged. I’m going to try some equipment experimentation tomorrow. I typically would not do that mid epic event, however I am sitting solidly in third place right now and my goal is to try and hang with the top two ladies a bit longer tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes. Until tomorrow, Jen.
JEN HANKS BLOG DAY THREE: Bitchin’. Camaro.
Yesterday I was caught on video saying that the stage was more fun than any stage I had done at both the TransRockies and TransAlp. Today I would feel comfortable repeating that statement. If you’re looking for a mountain bike stage race with LOTS of tough climbing and LOADS of singletrack, Breck Epic is for you. A compounding factor that adds to the challenge of the race is the incredibly high altitude. Racers who live at altitude definitely have an advantage.
Today we started at the Breckenridge hockey ring and climbed up the same road used in the Firecracker 50 Marathon National Championships. I felt good from the start and tried to keep my pace up and catch a draft off some of the other racers. The equipment change that I eluded to in yesterday’s post was to use my lighter hardtail bike today. Yesterday I felt that I struggled on the climbs and rode the downhills really smooth so I was hoping that I could improve my climbing today. It seemed to be working and I kept the leaders in my category in sight up the long first climb. We hit a singletrack downhill and the hardtail seemed just as fast. I lost contact with the leader of my category on the next dirt climb, however I was still feeling good. It was here that I latched on to one of the co-ed duo teams. It was cool to see them work together and it brought back fond memories of doing TransAlp and TransRockies with my husband.
At mile 6 I blew through the neutral water zone. It felt like we had just started the race. We then climbed forever again to a super rocky doubletrack downhill, through a creek, and up again to the first official feedzone. I arrived to the feed zone looking for my support, but he was nowhere in sight. This had me a bit flustered, but really wasn’t too big of a deal because the neutral support was phenomenal and I had put extra food/drink in my drop bag ‘just in case’. We then rode down a dirt road with lots of potholes. It was admittedly pretty rough on the hardtail. I was then rewarded with some super fun and fast singletrack. When I finally arrived to the final feed I looked for my support. Man, I missed him again! I dumped off my camelback in my drop bag and picked up two water bottles to get me up the last super steep climb and down another rough and rocky downhill to the finish. I finished exactly where I did yesterday, so riding the ‘climbing’ bike did not really help me at all. My time today was just over 3 hours. This sounds like a relatively short stage, but I’m finding that the altitude makes recovery more difficult. Right now I am too tired to think about what I will do for tomorrow. I’m having a love/hate relationship with food. Trying to get lots of calories in, but nothing sounds good. This is pretty typical for me midway through a stage race. As for tomorrow, I believe it is the longest, toughest, and most brutal of all days. I can’t wait, but first I need some rest!