Showing posts from August, 2017

Post Breck Blues

I've heard people talking about it - the dreaded mental let-down after a huge race. I've never really dealt with it before though; I've always been able to move the focus to the next race or event without much of an emotional toll. This was different. After the Breck Epic, it's been hard to refocus and recharge for that next event. I can't figure out why either - there was so much logistic stuff involved with the Breck Epic (drop bags! mandatory meeting! awards! repeat, repeat, repeat...) that it seemed hard to just settle down and ride my bike. Amber and I were a great team - I can't actually thing of another person I'd want to race as a Duo with. We communicated, helped each other out during bad patches, kept the mood positive and fun throughout the week and generally had a blast. We met some really fun people during the race - some I already "knew" through social media and some complete strangers. Every day was an adventure and capturing the em…

Gold Dust and Donuts

Stage 6 - the last day. For some classes, it was still racing as the time gaps were tiny. For us, it was pedal party time. There was no surmounting the distance between us and the leaders and the third place team was several hours behind Amber and I. So we didn't have to race. We just had to have fun and remember that's why we ride bikes. We aren't getting paid to ride or do crazy things like the Breck Epic. We do these things because they are fun and we love to ride our bikes.

While the descent of Gold Dust trail on the south side of Boreas Pass is the highlight of the stage, it's a roadies dream. Two long climbs to the Continental divide on Boreas Pass Road with nothing to get in the way of putting the head down and pedaling. Before getting to Boreas Pass Roas, however the course followed Breck Epic Course Rule #1 - if there is a fun descent, at some point in time you will climb up it. This time it meant climbing up Aspen Alley and Banker's Tank trails - both awe…

Taking our bikes for a hike! Wheeler Pass

After four hard days of racing it finally arrived. The shortest yet perhaps hardest stage of the race Wheeler Pass. "Only" 25 miles, but those miles involved climbing up to and traversing along the Continental Divide before plunging back down into the trees. Amber and I both knew that if we had a chance to take a stage, this would be the one. It's the one that suits us the best - minimal long pedaly sections like the Aqueduct stage that we both suffer with, but hard climbing, Hike-a-Bike and then alpine singletrack descents. We were both facing several sections of trail that we'd never seen before and that would be the major limitation what we had coming into the stage. Trail knowledge on those alpine descents can mean minutes - especially on the long one that we would face today.

But first - the time trial start from the base of Peak 9. We watched the leaders blasting out of the start house and pondered warming up. Pondered. The prior four days and 150+ miles of rid…

Aqueduct aka when do we go downhill?

Consider us warned... Everyone we talked to regarding Stage 4 offered up various amounts of hard climbing and pedaly sections. It seemed that there was lots of climbing with minimal descending. A few people even said there were some sections that made them cry. So we were well prepared to utterly hate the 41 miles and another 6600 feet of climbing ahead of us. We also knew that this wasn't a stage that we would shine on - neither of are good on the pedaling sections. So it was settle in, hope not to lose to much time and ride our bikes. Work together on the climbs and have fun on the few moments of descending that we would get. That was the plan.
Here is where I need to stop rambling about the course and the riding and talk about Amber for a bit. Breck Epic was her idea. A random thought that popped up and gradually solidified last year that we would ride Breck Epic together. Racing something like the Breck Epic is more fun as a duo, with someone always there to share in the suffe…

Mount Guyot

So if I thought the Colorado Trail stage was fun yesterday, well today was even more fun. But I have also decided that in the Breck Epic, if there is a fun descent one day, then we will be climbing back up it the next day! At least for these first few days...

Another start on Washington Rd, another rollout on the gradual climb of Wellington Rd. I think on day two, we have finally gotten the rollout figured out because it was much smoother making that left hand turn. Amber and I right away settled into our duo happy place - riding with several of the men's duos that we've been riding with for the last two day. We were a much chattier group on the rollout today as well - taking our minds off of the 40 miles left to pedal. Amber and I started talking right away on the climb up Side Door, keep the pace real, keep the pedaling steady and just ride smart. We were starting the stage 31 minutes down, so riding intelligently and staying upright was more important then racing. Especial…

The Colorado Trail!!

The Colorado Trail... Stage 2 is supposed to be one of the hardest, one of the longest and yet one of the most fun stages in the race. Amber and I had the same idea in the morning - our Swiftwick Vision Colorado Spirit socks for the Colorado Trail... Maybe the only time we will be all matchie-matchie... The Colorado Trail was definitely a fun day on a bike, with some of the most fun riding I've seen this year. But before we even got to the Colorado Trail, we had nearly 14 miles of trail to cover. After a semi neutral wave start, Amber and I settled into our climbing groove. Because that's what was coming up - some nice long miles of climbing. Including the aptly named Heinous Hill - four miles of step, grunt and lung busting grinding. Amber made it to the top easily, I opted to hike for a few minutes on the steepest portions. Again, we didn't know where the first or third place duos were, but that didn't matter. We were riding against ourselves at this point.
 After th…

Breck Epic - Stage 1

Stage One. Here we go! Amber and I lined up further back then I normally do, but in a comfortable location. As long as we kept the rubber side down during the three mile climb up Boreas Pass Road, it really didn't matter. It's only the first day. You might not win a race in the first day, but going out too hard and we could blow sky high. It was the mass start that had me most worried for Amber - she's never done anything like this before and riding with 600 people handlebar to handlebar isn't exactly easy. I was also worried about me going too hard on the climb and putting both of us into the red. There was a lot of talking and checking in to make sure we were riding smart, but I was still going a little harder then we needed. I wanted to be in a good position entering the first section of singletrack. Once we got of the road and settled in on the Pennsylvania Gulch Climb, we had bit of a chat, and it was time to chill out a little. It's a long week to come. And t…

Go time

I'm watching the sun slowly illuminating the 10 Mile Range as I write this. All the work had been done - the long rides, the hard intervals and the recovery weeks. The bike is ready and the drop bags have been packed. Things are real now - we are here and it's past day zero. A year in the making and we are here. It's almost go time. In less then two hours in fact, Amber and I will begin this long journey of self discovery through riding bikes. Finding our True North.

I would be lying if I said I slept well last night. So many thoughts rolling around in my mind. I know it really is just six days of riding bikes. Six big days of riding bikes. But there are so many unknowns to face - besides just riding bikes. I think the biggest challenge for me will be racing Duo in this manner. I'm used to riding my one race - my own pace. Not this time. It will be an ever evolving dance between us. When to push the pace, when to settle into pedaling. One of us might be feeling great a…

Watching the Weather

One of the most vivid memories I have of my 50 states + DC quest was sitting on a chilly bus, driving up Blacksmith Fork Canyon towards the start of the 2000 Top of Utah Marathon. The heat was on in the bus, but that didn't matter. It was still cold and the breath of the runners had fogged up the windows, obscuring the view of the canyon we were driving up. Not that it mattered. At some point, someone wiped clear one of the windows and his words sent shivers through the bus.

"It's snowing..."
It was the end of September and a wet cold front had dipped low across I-80 and pushed backwards into the Wasatch mountains. Top of Utah was only my 7th marathon and my 5th road marathon and I was about to disembark a school bus into a snow storm, faced with running 26.2 miles. 
Why do I bring this up the week before the Breck Epic? Because that experience taught me several valuable lessons. Lessons that might come in handy as I keep one eye on the weather for next week. I was s…