Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Breck Epic '10 - Stage 4

Today was the new Aqueduct stage that Mike just got forest service approval for the other week. Supposedly more difficult than yesterday. I like to think of today as a 'mixer' seeing as the first half was death for me and the second half was the best performance I've had all week.

42miles and 8,852 feet of climbing.

I didn't sleep that well last night and this morning was very difficult to get moving. It was also quite cold this morning, like day one. We were shivering at the start waiting for the sun to come up over the mountain pass.

The race started just like every day this week. Neutral start going out of town which promptly dropped me well before the turn off of French Gulch road to the first climb (a dirt road we did on stage 2). I did what I did yesterday and stuck with a pace that I could ride consistently.

I've also noticed that my starts and the first hour or two have been a struggle on my body. We're faced with climbing from the get-go and I have trouble getting my body under control. Needless to say I settled into a rhythm and did my best.

The first couple climbs in the first 20miles were tough. Just a tad too steep for me to ride so I wound up walking a bit of them. Did my best to ride what I could since it was awesome Colorado Trail singletrack. Jeff and Sonya from Topeak/Ergon were back and forth with I and ultimately pulled away from me on the climb at mile 13.

Down the descent around mile 15 to some fields and singletrack that took us out near Keystone. I rode this section last Thursday with Thom, Jeff Carter, Dejay, Mike Melley and Peter Butt so I knew what was in store. Relatively flat to the second aid station at 20miles in. Since I didn't eat and drink much up until this point I did my best to fill my stomach up despite not having a desire to eat. Drank just about all of my bottle of Perpetuem in anticipation for the long climb from mile 20 (aid station 2) to mile 28ish.

Leaving aid station 2 was rough. My legs were really tired but I knew every foot of this climb and knew if I kept on pedaling I'd be at the top and have an awesome descent down the Colorado Trail (the climb we did at mile 15 on day two). The grade was also perfect for my gear ratio.

The long climb today was broken into two parts. A dirt road that was at a shallower grade (well, it felt that way) and then an old Jeep trail that was at a steeper grade with many switch-backs. There was a right turn off the dirt road and onto the Jeep trail. This is where Thom was pounding a Coke on last Thursday's ride.

Once I turned onto the Jeep trail the Perpetuem finally kicked in and I felt great. The GPS on my bike (which for some reason refused to record today) said I was doing around 5-6mph up that climb. It was the perfect grade to stay seated and grind it out. Each switch-back I'd have to stand up to get that extra push over the rocks and such.

Upon the top of the climb and onto the Colorado Trail I was planning on stopping for a nature break but to my surprise, I saw Montana and knew I had to keep on going for now I have a chance to finish in 6th place as opposed to my solid 7th place finishing all week. This was the first time all week were I've been near another singlespeeder. Typically I've been out in my own little singlespeed world. Can't quite ride fast enough to catch up to 6th place and 8th place has occasionally been nipping on my heels.

Montana bombed the Colorado Trail descent and left me in his dust. I rode it quite aggressively and fast. Something I've finally gotten back this week as mentioned the other day. Two wheeled slides around turn in the loose dirt. No fingers on the brake levers through the straights. Not sure what the GPS said but I can only guess its upwards of 25-30mph since when I did have the ability to look away from the trail and onto the GPS I was doing 20mph. Still couldn't find Montana until after we hit the bottom and started climbing up the second portion of the Colorado Trail. Still feeling pretty strong I kept on the gas through these climbs and eventually was able to get on Montana's wheel.

By now we are around mile 34 and have also caught back up to Jeff and Sonya. They let Montana and I pass them. We also passed quite a few other geared riders. Right turn onto a very rutted out dirt road downhill to Tiger Rd. We did this yesterday and at the bottom, on Tiger Road, was the aid station yesterday (where I thought it was today). I forgot how rutted the road was and tried drinking. In mid-drink I also inhaled and rode into a giant pot-hole with one hand on the bar. Spit my water out and grabbed onto the bars with the other hand and the bottle in my hand. Held on for dear life for another couple hundred feet and then the road smoothed out enough for me to take a drink and put the bottle away. Montana was still infront of me. Just before opening up onto Tiger Rd. I coasted past Montana and lead whomever was with us (I thought it was upwards of six people including he and I) across a creek and through some trails to the aid station.

Got to the aid station with Jeff and Sonya seconds behind me. Filled my two bottles with Heed and opted not to get anything out of my drop bag knowing we had less than 10miles to the finish. As soon as I put my leg over my bike to get going Montana rolled in. I took off down the rolling doubletrack. Jeff and Sonya caught up to me and passed me as I couldn't pedal any faster. One more climb to go we cheered!

The doubletrack pitched up and I forced myself to stay on the bike no matter how much it hurt. Standing and pedaling at some insanely low cadence as Jeff and Sonya were in their 28/36 spinning away. I buried myself knowing if I could get up and over this mountain I could bomb the descent and hopefully stay ahead of Montana. Partway up the climb I resorted to what Peter refers to as the "Granny Walk". Ride for a minute or so and then walk [quickly] for a minute or so. This keeps you ahead of any geared rider spinning in their granny gear. Well, it works okay for me, sometimes. I worked today.

I caught up to another geared rider near the top of this last climb (with Jeff and Sonya not that far behind me) and we pushed ourselves to the finish. I'd give him encouragement on the short uphills (since he wanted to shift to an easier gear and slow down but I couldn't) and he'd let me tag along on his wheel on the descents.

Back down the flume trail we've ridden almost every stage thus far and across French Creek road. We did this yesterday but today we had a bunch of singletrack once we crossed French Creek road. I was so shelled from burring myself on the last climb that this singletrack was horrible. It was classic New England singletrack too; all chock full of roots, stumps and rocks. I scrubbed so much speed for I could barely hold onto the handlebars and could barely turn the pedals over. Basically, I couldn't control the bike anymore. My shoulders and other muscles I didn't know I had were so fatigued that I couldn't do anything.

Eventually got to the finish line with that geared rider seconds ahead of me. I heard Jeff and Sonya barreling down the singletrack into the last turn for the finish. They were right behind me. Montana finished a few minutes later. Wow. I can't believe I just did that. Started my day off horribly and ended on a high note.

Finished 6th place singlespeed for the day. Still in 7th place singlespeed overall.

4hours 35minutes

Looking at the results I was not that far behind all the other singlespeeders. Guess I did have an impressive ride today. Victory!

I was also 10minutes behind Thom. I thought I was much further than that. Seeing as Jeff and Sonya are a solid team and riding very consistent this week I was stoked to have caught back up with them later in the race. A fun day and it was exciting to ride with a bunch of fast people.

Afterwards, Thom, Mike Melley, Montana and I rode over to the Riverwalk and sat in the cold water for around 20minutes. It was good on the legs. Then a shower and an hour long nap before dinner.

During dinner I had my wheels trued since I knocked them out of true pretty good the past few days. Tomorrow is the Wheeler trail over on the Breckenridge ski resort mountain chain (west of town). We're going back over 12,000ft on a hike-a-bike. Tomi got a bunch of great photos here last year. I'll probably do the same.

Russ replacing Thom's chainring. Russ is co-owner of the Organic Mechanic based out of Golden, CO. I met him at the 'Eel' a few years ago where he, Salem and I raced together. Good guy and they are doing a great thing traveling to various races throughout the Colorado region.

Thom found a new friend

I miss my dog. He's in North Carolina on vacation with my parents right now as I'm on 'vacation' in Colorado.

My Photos

Peter's Blog and Photos

Dicky's Blog

Thom's Blog


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