Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breck Epic '10 - Stage 5

Today was the Wheeler trail stage. The stage this race is most known for.

40miles and 7,300ft of climbing

My GPS worked again! Victory!

I had a feeling I'd feel pretty good on this stage. My plan was to ride as much as I could up the first climb to the point where everyone was hiking up and over Wheeler Pass. Then try to hold my own on the descent and the relatively flat bike path. If my day was progressing as it has been lately I'd be strong for the end and can rally to the finish line.

Well, the short story is I did just that. I was able to ride the first 10 miles without having to get off the bike. Hoped off at the aid station around mile 10 to refill my bottle and then began the hike-a-bike to 12,500ft. The aid station was already at 11,000ft and change and we started the stage around 9,700ft.

Climbing up to 12,500ft.

looking back at what I just hiked.

I tried my best to keep my heart rate in check within the first hour and a half but knew that would be difficult as starts and the first hour to two hours have been a bit of a shock on my body. I knew things were going well when within the first mile I passed Dejay, Jake, Dan and Evan as they were walking up this steep incline and I was riding (I was on Mike's wheel). A mile or so later they all passed me but I had Dan and Jake in my sights for the entire climb up to 12,500ft.

So, the plan was working well but I couldn't hike as fast as Jake and Dan could so I was a bit slow as we crested up to 12,500ft. Once up there I just had to stop and take a few photos for the views were magnificent.

looking down from the summit.

We made it! 12,500ft! Now to traverse some high alpine singletrack and then a short climb back to 12,460ft before the long descent to 9,300ft.

the town of Breckenridge is down there in the distance

And the sweet high alpine 12,000ft plus singletrack begins!

Both Dan and Jake were gone by now but I didn't really care. If I finished the day near them then sweet. If not, no big deal. Wouldn't affect the overall results anyway since I'm over an hour down from the next guy.

The rest of the high alpine singletrack. We zig-zagged up that singletrack on the far mountain and then descended the other side. I think that is between Peak 8 and Peak 9 of the Breckenridge ski resort.

Surprisingly, I did not feel that bad riding up here. I was pretty coherent unlike when we crested French Gulch on stage 3. The nice weather today most likely contributed to my coherent behavior. The singletrack was sweet. Reminded me a lot of Trail 401 in Crested Butte but without the waist high wild flowers (this was also at a higher altitude).

second summit! 12,460ft. We then descended down the backside towards I70 and Frisco.

I70 westbound

The descent down to Frisco!

The descent was long (6 miles if I recall). I was a bit sketched out by the narrow and rocky singletrack so I rode down slowly (on the brakes) which cost me some time but it was the safe thing to do. The rigid fork also forced me to stop a few times to shake my wrists out. While doing that I got a few photos.

With laying heavy on the brakes I noticed the Niner carbon fork had a bit of chatter in it when I was rolling over rocky and rooty terrain while on the brakes (running a 7inch front rotor and 6inch rear and my braking is probably 70%F and 30%R on average). I thought my headset was getting loose but the chatter is non-existent when rolling over the same terrain and not on the brakes. Make sense since when I'm rolling on the road and lay on the front brake you can see the fork flex a bit. Not a big deal in my eyes.

Around mile 20 was the next aid station. I refilled a bottle and realized all I have done thus far was drink two bottles and eat one package of Clif shot bloks. I later found out that Dicky was 15sec behind me and could see me when I stopped at this aid station (I wasn't looking over my shoulder). A big surprise since he's never been anywhere near me this week.

I hit the bike path and drank almost another bottle of drink mix and also drank most of my bottle of Perpetuem which was in my jersey pocket. Figuring the Perpetuem will allow me to continue to the finish and provide me much needed strength in the last climb (which it did).

The bike path consisted of me spinning at ridiculously high cadences for 15-20sec and then coasting for a while. Trying to keep the speed up around 20mph. Guys on geared bikes were passing me like I was standing still. I tried to latch onto two groups of people on geared bikes so I can draft them but that did not last long. This is always the hardest thing for a singlespeeder. You want to maintain a fast pace but you can only pedal so fast. We resort to pedaling like mad and coasting. Pedaling like mad and coasting. Repeat..

A good portion of the bike path was downhill so I went back and forth between laying on my saddle with my upper body horizontal on the bike (allowed me to stretch my back and hamstrings) and also laying on the top tube tucked in the bike with my back against the seatpost and my face up on the stem (most aerodynamic). I got some pretty good speeds out of this (32mph top says my GPS).

Once in Frisco we rolled through the third and final aid station. Jeff and Sonya from Topeak/Ergon finally caught back up to me (I passed them in the early few miles of the race) and we rode out of the aid station together. I ditched my arm warmers (which I never wore) and my bottle of perpetuem at the aid station to lighten the load. Jeff was asking me if I ever rode the next section (which I have not). He said I'd enjoy it and I sure did. Upwards of 10miles of singletrack (now mostly doubletrack) that was very rocky and rooty (like New England and the East coast) that took us up to Breckenridge. There was a good grade for the climb. Perfect for my gear ratio I had. I felt great so I took off. Sonya later told me she tried to match my pace but she couldn't forcing her and Jeff to ride a bit slower than I. Opps. Sorry Sonya.

I felt strong and was having so much fun that I caught back up, and passed, quite a few of the geared riders that passed me on the bike path. One guy was able to kind of hang with me. I heard him behind me a ways. He would gain on me with the flats and slight downhills but I'd pull on him when we had a few short climbs. The last two to three miles were a bit on the access roads through the Breckenridge Ski Resort and then a few trails. Going into the last section of trail I was sure the geared guy would pass me since he could gain and pass me on the road (which he never really did) but he actually gave me a little nudge to get me onto the singletrack first and we rode to the finish together. I bombed the last couple hundred feet down to the finish line (fingers no where near the brakes). It was some rocky and somewhat smooth doubletrack. Felt awesome to be flying down the mountain at well over 25mph.

Finished just inside of 4hours! Fastest stage for me this week so far. Victory!

7the place singlespeed but only six minutes behind Dan (in 6th). Dan came up to me after I finished and commented on how he's glad we have one more stage because I'm getting stronger and faster as the days go on and have been creeping up on him. We both laughed and shared our enjoyment for the sportsmanship.

Stage 5 singlespeed results. I'm getting closer to the top guys but we're running out of time. One more stage to go.

Stage 5 singlespeed podium.

Both Montana and Mike made it back onto the podium! Congrats guys!

Overall singlespeed results after 5 stages.

Today actually felt like a recovery day for me. Sounds kind of funny for me to say that but I did not feel as beat down as I did yesterday both during today's stage or afterwards.

One more stage to go! Part of me is excited to finish and get the bad-ass belt buckle and part of me is sad for I'm getting stronger as the days go on.

My Photos

Peter's Blog and Photos

Dicky's Blog

Thom's Blog


Blogger The Vegan Vagabond said...

Sounds awesome! Really enjoyed your posts this week.
Great job Doug!

8/27/2010 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Sonya said...

Bravo!!! I wish I took my camera in the race, because I think I stared at the ground for almost a week straight. It was fun going back and forth with you all week. BADASS!

8/28/2010 4:30 PM  

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