I got to Breckenridge around 10:30PM on Wednesday night. My heart was still pounding from my short track effort and assortment of caffeine from the evening. It was after midnight by the time I fell asleep, but I was up with Jeff at 6 AM to eat breakfast and get ready to ride Stage 5.
Stage 5 was called the “Queen Stage.” I thought it was pretty much the first loop of the Breck 100, the only part of the course I haven’t ridden. Eszter Horyani is also racing the Breck 100, so she joined me for the day.
We lined up behind everyone racing to stay out of the way, let the race sort itself out, and stuck ourselves in a position where we could go relatively easy and encourage other folks racing.
My legs were actually feeling pretty trashed from the efforts so far, so I couldn’t even imagine how the stage racer’s legs felt. Wow. The ride started with a road climb, which funneled into singletrack. The singletrack climb was pretty tough, and I was definitely suffering, even at an “easy” pace. You really couldn’t go easy. The stage just seemed to point up. I was on my hardtail, which turned out to be pretty tough later on. We did have some fun descending, which, as Mike McCormack would say, “is so awesome, you feel like you’re doing something illegal.”
After some more great climbs, we came out to a road and then turned right onto more singletrack.
We ended up riding with Heather Szabo and another lady (I can’t remember your name!!!, sorry!) on and off through the stage.
We also rode with Karen and Alan Rishel, who were strongly holding 3rd in the Coed Duo category.
The views were getting bigger and bigger as treeline got closer. Most people were off their bikes, walking.
I thought there would be a little bit of hike a bike. Then Eszter pointed to the mountain. You could see people hiking their bikes, except they didn’t look like people, they looked like ants.
The hike took us about an hour when all was said and done. It was steep, and the trail was narrow as we traversed up the side of this mountain to peak out at 12,500′.
I thought at the top, the hiking would be over. No can do. It was marshy on the other side, resulting in more hiking.
Finally, we were rewarded with the descent. I felt like I already was rewarded. The views up there were sooo amazing. I was smiling and feeling good inside from the epic views alone. I knew how frustrating this would be to the racers, because I knew how hard it was for me.
My achilles tendons and calve muscles felt like they were going to explode, hiking in carbon soled shoes. Ouch!
Waaay up where the air is thin.
Then down we went. I got beat to hell on that descent on the hardtail, but I still loved it!!! We got down into Copper Mountain Resort, and headed back toward Breck.
Then, the course jumped on the Peaks Trail for about 10 miles, which empties at at the finish at Peak 8.
It actually had some roots and rocks that made it fun!!!!!
By the end of it, (including stopping and taking photos), it took Eszter and I like 5 hours and 15 minutes. I was totally blown by the end of that stage. Definitely one of the harder days I have ever done on a bike!! I think it was around 40 miles and 8000′ of elevation gain.
Next post…. stage 6 – the final stage – the Gold Dust Trail. That was a great ride today. I had tons of fun and felt great… more to come tomorrow!
I didn’t know it got marshy up high like that. That’s pretty neat.