Hail, hike-a-bike and hero dirt highlight the toughest climbing stage of all six days.
Rich Dillen aka Dicky and me before I got lost on Stage 2.
Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at firstname.lastname@example.org. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.
In the open categories, Todd Wells (Specialized) and Sue Haywood (NoTubes) each scored stage 3 wins. That was the third straight stage win for Wells, who now has a commanding 3:47 lead over second-placed Alex Grant (Sho-Air/Cannondale), with German Ben Sontag third at 11:28.
In the women’s overall, stage 2 winner Amanda Carey (NoTubes) is in the top spot, 4:34 up on Kate Aardal, with Haywood third at 4:41.You can see full results HERE.
As my esteemed colleague Jason Sumner mentioned in his thorough Stage 2 review, I got lost. It wasn’t just a minor oversight got lost. It was a bomb 1.5 miles down the steepest, sketchiest, 1,000 vertical foot downhill only to hike-a-bike back up got lost. I’ve never cursed so much in my entire life pushing my bike up a veritable wall of rock and dirt. It was at least a 25-minute detour, adding an extra 1,000 feet of climbing and three miles to the already brutal 38-mile and 5,300 vertical feet Stage 2. Lesson learned: don’t ever trust the two guys bombing downhill in front of you know where they’re going.
At 12,000 feet, Mt. Guyot is a brutal hike-a-bike, but the views and downhill payoff are worth the effort.
Stage 3 was an absolute beast, with 36 miles and 6,564 feet vertical feet of soul crushing uphill. One of the climbs went to the saddle next to Mt. Guyot, putting us around 12,000 feet. Unfortunately I was too preoccupied with hyperventilation and pushing my bike for twenty minutes at a time to really take in the glorious scenery.
I’ve never pushed my bike more than at the Breck Epic, and although it sounds completely unappetizing, the downhill payoffs are simply amazing. Everything from above tree line ribbon singletrack to super technical, deep woods East Coast style riding loaded with square edge rocks, slippery roots and tight switchbacks, the Breck Epic offers something for everyone.
For those who love active participation from Mother Nature, the Breck Epic features bonus material like pea-sized hail that falls with such force that the pain of it pelting your body completely numbs the pain you’re feeling in your legs. The hail came down with fury as I descended Colorado Trail, scattering little white frozen marbles all over the ground; a surreal sensation unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.
My whole goal for Stage 3 was to simply survive. The plan was to just ride a comfortable pace all race and not chase anyone. I stuck to the plan, and very much to my surprise, I hike-a-biked my way into third place on the climb to the Continental Divide. Turns out I’m a better hike-a-biker than an actual climber.
One thing I’ve learned riding here in Breckenridge is when a local tells you “you’re almost there” or “it’s just a short climb”, don’t ever believe them. “You’re almost there” translates to at least five miles and “just a short climb” translates to a minimum of 500 vertical feet.
After a second hike-a-bike session on the final big climb, I was running on fumes and careened downhill determined to hold onto a third place finish. But what I expected was the finish line was actually another two miles away and a short uphill push. Just as the seams started to burst, the hail came again, this time harder. The mud started flying into my eyes, the trail started getting slippery and my focus was waning.
The finish line had to be close, I could hear the music and announcer on the PA system. But race promoter Mike McCormack loves to mess with our minds, gratuitously running us within shouting distance of the finish for as much as two miles. After four hours on the bike, all you want to be is done and you can taste the finish line, but it never quite seems to come.
Finally I crossed the finish line a little cold, a little wet and a lot blown out. I looked back and no more than 10 seconds later, the fourth and fifth place singlespeeders crossed the line. I barely held it together and managed a podium finish, something I didn’t think was possible considering the enormous talent that’s here in Breckenridge.
A completely unexpected 3rd place finish for the ASS on Stage 3.
The last thing I wanted to think about after punishing my body all day was the prospect of racing again tomorrow. Stage 4 is another knee to the crotch, featuring 43 grueling miles and nearly 6,500 feet of climbing.
Every day at the Breck Epic is a new adventure, but what doesn’t change are the stellar trails, mind blowing views, outstanding organization, incredible volunteer support and captivating enthusiasm for this absolutely one-of-a-kind experience on a mountain bike. As much as its gonna hurt, in a strangely masochistic way, I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow.
The ASS Goes to Breckenridge »
The Angry Singlespeeder: Breck Epic Stage 1 »
Breck Epic Stage 2: Lessons From The Trail »
Breck Epic Stage 4: Suffering and Singletrack »
Breck Epic Stage 5: Yep, That Was Epic »
Breck Epic Stage 6: Exhilarated and Exhausted »