Today was like deja vu, except I was missing my partner from last year! I raced the 2010 Breck Epic with Jeff Kerkove as a coed duo. It was my first stage race. Since, I have done 2 other stage races (Transylvania Epic and Brasil Ride) but I still realllly love the Breck Epic. High alpine singletrack is my true love. Like love, sometimes we get along perfectly and it gives me butterflies, sometimes every step of the way feels hard, sometimes it hurts me, sometimes we fight, and sometimes it feels surreal… but I always come back.
After getting up at 4 AM and 5 hours of sleep yesterday and supporting at Leadville the whole day (and then booking it to Breck to make registration, pre-race meeting, make dinner, and getting drop bags ready) and no spinning the legs, I wasn’t sure how stage 1 was going to go.
Drop bags had to be there 1 hr and 10 min before the start, so I took advantage of that time and did a bigger warm up than I normally would. I was pleasantly surprised that my legs felt snappy, so I actually went easier on the warm up. It was great to see a lot of returning faces from last year as well as a LOT of racers new to the event – GROWTH!!
I’m trying to start faster in races, so I told myself I’d hang on to the open men as long as I could up Boreas Pass Road. I managed to hang on and entered the first singletrack descent (Aspen Alley, I know it well) with them. I even rode this section I normally avoid and have never had the guts to go down (it’s the super super steep kitty litter downhill by a mine). I normally opt for the loose rutted singletrack that bypasses it. I took the lead from the start and had no clue how close 2nd and 3rd place were behind me. There are some talented women in my field and I knew they’d be trying to close the gap. The climbs today (as you can see in the course profile) were relentless and they kept coming.
Photo cred: Devon Balet, one of the best sports photogs out there. Thanks for the pics!
About 10 miles in, Jen Gersbach and Miles came around me (they are rockin’ the coed duo category). She definitely would have crushed me today if she was in solo women. They were 9 minutes up on me in the end. When she came around I said, “Man! I haven’t suffered on a bike in awhile!” She said, “It feels good, doesn’t it?!” I thought, “You know what…. it actually does.” The last time I went decently hard on a bike was at the B-68. CTR training wasn’t about suffering, it was about moving forward and being consistent at a pace you can hold for 6-7 days straight!
HR and elevation profile for the day.
Stopping at aide 1 to pick up 2 fresh bottles.
I was able to put out a consistent hard effort for the day. Ironically, I rode Little French FASTER than in the B-68, even with the destroyed upper section from a rain storm a few weeks ago. There was a little more pushing, but I actually could ride most of it! I found myself racing around the same 5 men most of the day.
After aide 2, I was starting to run out of gas, but I kept pushing forward. The demons I’ve been fighting were running in hamster wheels giving me a few extra watts. All the training for CTR hike-a-bike came in handy today too!
After Aide 3, I was told that I had a 10ish minute gap on 2nd place. The road to Sally Barber Mine seemed to go on forever, but I stayed motivated. Kent Ericksen, whom I’d been near most of the day, took the charge on the DH and we finished up in just over 4 hours. I was happy that my pace was about the same as last year riding with Jeff.
It was exciting and reassuring to take the lead today! I have a 14 minute lead, but that’s not anything to be comfortable about. There are 5 days left and anything can happen. My plan is to stay steady. Tomorrow will be a difficult day emotionally for me. It’s the Colorado Trail Stage. We will be riding the last section I rode before dropping out of the race. Hopefully those demons go on warp drive!
Podium today: Myself, Katie Lindquist, Jen Tilley.
I feel lucky to wear a leaders jersey tomorrow! woop woop!
Stage 2 brags 7300′ of elevation gain in 40 miles!