Sunday, August 12, 2018

Breck Epic: Stages 5-6

Thursday Stage 5:

Photo taken by Jeff

Wheeler Pass today! What a ride! What a hike! Today's stage definitely would have been better with hiking boots and a dropper post. We started today in 10 person waves based on GC standings, each wave was separated by a minute. I was in wave 6 and Jeff was in wave 20. We immediately started climbing up singletrack which turned to a rocky fire road and eventually turned to steep singletrack and the hiking started. We hiked for miles up to 12,500 ft. The views were incredible. We crested a peak and then there was some rideable rocky singletrack across alpine meadows surrounded on all sides by craggy peaks and towering mountains. More hiking along some switchbacks, and we crested Wheeler Pass. I got some more skittles and there were also bacon and fireball handups, which Jeff enjoyed. After a short descent, it was back to climbing and hiking for another long time over a mountain pass coined by Rich Dillen as Mt Gawdammit, which I have to agree with him, was a slog. Then we descended off the pass on a super rocky, steep, technical, switchbacky, jaw chattering descent. I rode it with some curses thrown in, Jeff loved it. Jeff says he loved it so much he can't find the words to describe it. Then we rode ~7 miles back to Breck on Peaks Trail, which starts off with a punchy climb with roots and rocks thrown in and then gets more fast and flowey with some fun log bridges to roll over. And then we were at the finish! Kathy and her son came to the finish to say and it was fun to catch up with them. Last stage tomorrow. Legs are holding up, it is getting a little harder each day to sit on the saddle but we are still having a blast being here!

At the race start

Coming into the finish. Photo by Chris M

At the finish with Katrina. We climbed up there today! Photo by Chris M

Friday Stage 6: 

Today was the last stage. It was called Gold Dust. It was definitely the easiest stage of the race and a fun course to end on. We started in waves again based on yesterday's results. I moved into wave 7 and Jeff had a great day yesterday and moved into start wave 11. We started up a singletrack climb that had some technical sections and some sections with smooth berms. We climbed up through aspen forests that were really pretty in the early morning sunshine. I did really enjoy by 30t front chain ring for the initial climb. Then we popped out onto a road that carried us up to Boreas Pass.

Jeff and I climbing Aspen Alley today. Photos by Donald

Then we descended a trail called Gold Dust. It starts out as a steep rowdy downhill and then turns into a smooth flowey S-turn trench trail that is fast but seems pretty flat. Then we climbed a forest road back up to Boreas Pass and from there it was about an 8 mile descent back into town and the finishing area. I was lucky to have a 40 min gap going into today's stage. My goals for today were to ride smooth, avoid crashes and mechanicals, enjoy the ride and save my legs as much as possible for Leadville tomorrow. Goals were accomplished! Katrina caught me on the last downhill so I didn't win the stage, but I still can't really believe that I won the overall race. Coming into the finishing line was the coolest thing ever. I got to take some photos with Jeremiah, who won the pro men's race and Gordon/Elliot, who won the men's duo race. It was a great year at Breck Epic for Virginians! After the race, we celebrated with crepes and I got a massage at Blue Sage Spa which felt awesome. Then we went to the post race banquet, got our belt buckles, and headed to Leadville for the Leadville 100 tomorrow. It is definitely going to be hard to come back to reality after this!

Climbing to Boreas Pass

Virginia representing. Beast Coast. Photo by Chris M

We did it! Photo by Chris M

Breck Epic 6 -Day Women's Pro Podium

I have a lot of people to thank for this and wouldn't have been able to do this without their help. First, Joe's Bike Shop who has supported me for years since I first started racing. East Coasters Bike Shop in Roanoke has been helping me with bike maintenance for the last year and helped get my bike dialed for High Cascades and this race. I ran Ardent Race tires by Maxxis, and their tires have never let me down in a race. No flats despite lots of sharp rocks out on the trails this week. ESI grips kept my hands comfy and blister free. Rudy Project kept my head protected and Huma Gels kept me fueled. Kathy was kind enough to transfer me her race entry. Maybe most importantly, my coach, Chris Beck, talked me down from wanting to quit racing completely a few weeks ago and helped me recover properly from some severe mid-season fatigue. And also Jeff, who is my partner in crime and crazy enough to agree to do Breck and Leadville with me in the same year!

If you have ever thought about doing Breck, you should do it! If you still aren't convinced, you can watch all the race videos here:

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