The switchback cliff that if I fall off the side, I will most certainly land on a house in the valley below, Vomit Hill, the rock-festooned double track climb, the finish line that never comes quickly enough....
but it was different that day.
photo cred: Ffej W KnarMaybe it was the donuts handed out by Devon Balet and his crew. It could have been the beautiful weather. Perhaps I just didn't feel like butt, and when I hit the rocky, double track climb that I've dreaded ever since the first year I saw it, I was on my game. Instead of pushing up parts of it, I rode the whole thing.
It was probably the donut.
photo cred: Des4:25, 26th place Solo Men 40+
I even managed to beat Aaron Albright right on the last climb of the day, putting one more "rider I should never beat, but if they have a bad day..." on the defeated list. Cherished moments.
Stage Five, the infamous Wheeler stage. We'd been skipping meetings, because we're terrible people... and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is always on Netlflix. Looking at the map handout, it was apparent that the Wheeler stage had seen some changes. It looked shorter... easier. Until Bill Nye the Mountaineer Guy pointed out all the ridges, gaps, mountains, and valleys. Shorter... but much harder.
After the smoothest staged start in Breck Epic history, we were on the upside of Wheeler in no time. And then a long hike-a-bike... and down the other side of Wheeler... and then an abrupt right hand turn over to Mount Gotdammit.
photo cred: Breck Epic/Liam DoranIt was as Bill Nye had explained. Up and over and up and over more and more things.
photo cred: Karen JarchowIt was an incredible kick in the nuts... one that had many riders at the end of the day calling it "the hardest day on a bike ever."
Dunno. I've had worse.
We missed out on one of my favorite descents of all time with the route change, but in exchange, I got a new one to add to my top ten for sure.
photo cred: Des1.5 miles from the finish, I passed a guy kinda sprawled out on a gravel road, blood all over various parts of him, handlebar snapped off on one side. I went back up to him, and he wasn't looking too awesome. I checked my computer for the time, since it looked like I'd be here for awhile. 12:05.
He had a huge gash over one eye, helmet dented in, skin missing from his arm, shoulder and leg. Vomit (almost, from me). He tried to stand up. Fail. Didn't know what day it was. Another rider came along and went for help. The medic made his way up pretty quick (on a loaded fat bike), and at 12:10, I rolled off towards the finish.
I came across the line, told them about the incident and the four minutes I spent with the injured rider (like we'd been told to do in meetings past).
"Thanks for that" was all I got... so whatever. Hard to get too emotional when you're sitting so far off the podium. Just a sting to the vanity meats after attacking so hard on the last mile climb before the finish... for nothing. Oh well, I had a great day riding (and pushing) my bike.
4:06, 28th place Solo Men 40+
Stage Six... not generally one of my favorites. No good reason to hate it. Prolly the "only one stage to go beers" the night before. Anyways, another well-staged start and before I knew it, I was in good company on the first climb.
photo cred: DesOver to Gold Dust, the 13-14.5MPH spin either up or down it (I can't tell which it is), into Doldrum Valley, and then back up to Boreas Pass. I climbed surprisingly well, passed a ton of people, including some riders I had no business being in front of, into the trails back to town... an exciting pass or two or five (one that may have involved riding right down a rocky creek) to my best finish of the week.
2:37, 26th place Solo Men 40+
A beer at the finish line, a resolve to not start drinking at the end of the stage ignored. Beer at the condo, more with lunch, more with Brad Keyes, margaritas at Vince's Silver Bullet... all before heading to the banquet, where food was not on my menu.
Then things like this:
photo cred: Des
photo cred: Dan Durland
photo cred: Bill Nyeand then I took an arrow to the knee... or a wadded up dinner napkin to the eye, which made me more blind than I had been with my pure alcohol diet since 3:00PM, so I ended up missing the Stage 7 after party. Meh.
photo cred: Andrea WilsonI then had to keep my eye shut for the next 36 or so hours, refused to go to the urgent care when The Pie picked me up from the airport, spent the next day watching movies with one or two eyes, and by the end of the night, I had eaten one normal human meal, a mixing bowl of pop corn, a package of Swiss cheese, and a pound of lunch meat washed down with five beers.
And I still ended up feeling that way that I do.