Well, the ‘queen’ stage of this years Breck Epic was just completed, and I’m tired! With four big climbs, two of them sending us way above treeline, and one of them involving a good long hike a bike and a snow field, it was scenic, demanding and breathtakingly beautiful.
Brief: I felt really good and strong, but somehow didn’t capitalise on it with a good finish. Lots of people got lost at one turn, and I spent almost 15 minutes getting back on course. Not sure on results due to all the confusion at the finish. Somewhere in the top 10: hopefully I haven’t lost too much time on the GC.
Details: this route was a fantastic bike ride, but a seriously tough race! The day started with a climb out of Breckenridge onto the flume trail, and then down little French gulch. This is the same trail that we rode up on day one, and its equally tough as a descent. The massive water run off ensured there was no easy line and people were flying everywhere. I moved up nicely from my sedate start into the top 10, and began the long climb up and over French pass leading a big group of people. French pass is a saddle separating Bald mountain and Mt. Guyot at an elevation of 11,500 feet, and involved a good hike a bike on the way up, and a tricky snow field navigation on the way down. That nasty but fun up and down was followed immediately by the climb up Michigan creek to Georgia pass – mainly dirt road made it really fast, and I hung onto Yuki Ikeda’s wheel (topeak-ergon) and made some good progress. This climb was followed by another phenomenal downhill going through many different ecosystems from high alpine tundra, through aspen groves, damp pine forests and into the valley below. The top half was smooth and flowy and really rewarded momentum, whilst the lower section was really rocky and required massive focus to stay on line. Getting to the bottom is where the troubles started: I felt fantastic coming into Aid station 3 and set off just behind Yuki. Not close enough, however, as he made the unmarked turn onto the correct course and I spent the next 15 minutes pedalling in circles, whilst more people joined onto the group to find the right turn. After about 10 people had joined in, we eventually got back on course, and I used some serious anger energy to leave everyone behind and climb the ridiculously steep American Gulch. from here I was running on fumes, but the frustration of getting lost kept me going to the finish. It turns out that all but 2 people in the top 10 missed the same turn, but who knows how long everyone spent messing around. At this point I’m not sure that anything can be done to ‘fix’ the mess up, so it will have to be one of those tough learned lessons.
Anyway, I’m annoyed that I didn’t manage to capitalise on feeling good to stay closer to the leaders. I’m hoping that all the chasing I did today doesn’t cost me too much in the next three days. Half way there….