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Tuesday, August 20

The 2013 Breck Epic: Stages 4-5

I did forget to mention one thing about the Mt Guyot Stage yesterday.

Weather.

We got some.  For me and my place in the world, it started up above the tree line on the second big climb of the day.

Hail.  Tons of sub-pea sized hail seeking out all my exposed flesh.  Bare arms, cheeks, legs, and the tiny spots on my scalp that were available through the vents in my helmet.  It was a nifty and somewhat painful experience... and then the rain that came on the final descent.  Cold and unnecessary.  Certainly helped put a little more Epic into the Breck Epic.  A memory for a lifetime (that I totally forgot yesterday).

Stage Four - Aqueduct (Keystone) - 43.41 miles/6539'

How is it that I always forget how hard this stage is?  Maybe because Peter broke his seat post on this one last year, thus continuing our duo effort comedy of errors.  Who knows?  Either way, that almost 2,000ft climb halfway through the race certainly is a kick in the nuts.  After a couple hours effort, I pulled off after the second aid station to remove my knee warmer before hitting the ascent.  As I stood at the side of the road fiddling with my lycra bits, fellow rigid SS'er Chris Latura went by.

Photo credit: Liam Doran.

I got back on the bike, chased him down, and had a talk.  He's a quintessential single speed hard man and a veteran of other stage races; La Ruta and Trans Alps to name a couple.  I guess we used to race at East Coast events together "back in the day."  It was certainly nice to chat him up.  Most amazing thing about his set-up?  Not the steel fork, as I was still totally digging the ride back in 2010 or so.  No, it was the 2.2 front tire with a TUBE pumped up to @40PSI.  Psick.  Unthinkable.  Ouch.
Anyhoo, he was riding at more than my talking pace.  I looked over my shoulder, saw one Jasen Thorpe having a bad day, and dropped back to him to pass the time on the climb up to mile 30.  We talked it up quite a bit, passed by a fair amount of the climb, and before I knew it, two more single speeders made their way past me.  I let them go until I saw them smack a high five, and then I chased them down to see what that was all about.  They were just celebrating what they felt were their solid lock on their respective places,  11th and 12th.  I didn't have the desire to chase them down again until the five mile descent, where I ended up back in the mix with Chris, Hans, and David.  Exactly where I didn't feel like being... pleasant to have company but inspired to be somewhat competitive on a day that I didn't feel like competing in the least.

In the end, I held the wheel of neither Hans nor David and ended up 13th of 15 SS'ers... dropping overall GC places a bit more than planned, from 5th to 9th.  Doh.

I didn't deserve full immersion at that evening's river soak session.

photo cred: Luke Sagur

Stage Five - Wheeler 30.2 miles/5131'


Wheeler.  The best stage of my worst ever Breck Epic GC showing (2010's DFL SS).  Pretty much my favorite place in the world.  The course started at the ski resort and went right up the mountain.  With the staged start, it was easy to see where I was in the field.  I immediately shot to the front, passed Dan Durland and Dax Massey, pronounced "I'm winning!" and then dropped back to where I belonged.

From there, I knew the song and dance that is Wheeler.  Fight hard on the lower part of the climb and then join in on the forty minute conga ling hike-a-bike to the top of the world.

photo cred: Karen Jarchow

I kept myself up in and amongst those I felt I needed to be around, save for Fatty's boy, Kenny Jones, who was admittedly not a great H-A-b'er, but was certainly giving it a go today.

photo cred: Quinn Shephard

At the top, I took the bacon feed (which stayed in my throat for longer than anticipated) and headed down the incredible descent of Miner's Creek.

One of my favorite downhills of all time.  As Mike McCormack put it, "Your arms will be bloody stumps when you get to the bottom."

As expected, big man on a Pivot Les, Robin Dutton, came smashing around me on the way down.  I felt like this was inevitable as he schooled me on my other favorite descent on Stage 3.  No worries.  Just the way it is.

But...

When we hit the slight downgrade on the bike path back towards Breckenridge, the earth shifted on its axis and the laws of physics were not obeyed.  Somehow, and this kinda thing never happens, I caught Robin.  Despite the fact that he had some weight on me, I still caught him.  Time warp... black hole... tear in the space/time continuum.  Dunno.

From there, I expected the punchy technical climb back into Breck, but the course was altered to avoid conflict with dog walkers and whatnot, and we were treated to an extra 600ft gain up an old, steep road bed.  Sweet.  I gave it what I had left trying to keep Robin at bay, and rolled the final descents as if I were being chased by the devil himself.  I managed to pull out a 9th on the day, held onto my 9th overall, and was only a hair away from my desired perfect mid-pack 8th place finish.

A hair I would chase down on Stage Six.

2 comments:

AdamB said...

I am certainly enjoying your hairy tales... (as opposed to other hairy tails, which are cool, too).

Anonymous said...

Excellent coverage and photography.
Like I'm there on vacation myself.