Saturday, August 15, 2015

Breck Epic Stage 6 - Gold Dust

The Breck Epic 2015 is in the books. Today's stage started on the edge of town and groups of categories started together. This was the first time i got to see the singlespeed field in it's entirety and that was all good. Got to do some fist bumps at the start...the last day!! The first half mile was a climb up a road and into some singletrack. There the climbing continued which was accompanied by a need of oxygen. Being in a train of singlespeed studs, I kept up for as long as i could but after a while i felt the need to step aside as some speedsters approached from then next wave of categories. I stepped aside and let them by. This happened a few times over the first 4 miles where some faster folks who started with other categories whipped by. That was more of a blessing than a curse but the climbing continued. Eventually we left the singletrack and made it to a gravel road where a moderate climb took us to the Boreas Pass Summit at the 9.5 mile mark. This pass would be hit on the way out and back.

An aid station was up at the pass and I got some food on and got going. The descent started down the road and before long, hit singletrack. The trail was pretty sweet. It was at a subtle decline and was kind of like a track for running trees off the mountain in the from back in the day. It was fun and ended in a valley. We then made our way onto a gravel road that we took all the way up to the Boreas Pass Summit again. That was like a 6+ mile climb. At that point it was a down hill gravel road into down hill singletrack and eventually to the finish where folks were so stoked to survive the last 6 days. I was lucky enough to have the wife and youngest see me come out of the woods and cross the finish line. Stoked!!

The last stage was just under 30 miles and around 3300 ft of climbing. So looking forward to just get up tomorrow, have a cup of coffee and chill. To ensure that this intense race, every finisher of the 6 days gets a sick belt buckle. Gonna rock this fo sho!!!

I ended up in 13th place in the singlespeed category. Word!! The sickest number...out of 14. Total time was a bit under 27 hours of riding. Riding the 32x21 worked for me and i used it the whole time. There was many a time where I was climbing behind folks in their easiest gear...slowly and hence momentum was not there for me to push a bigger gear. I brought a 20 with figuring that i may switch it out depending on the stage and how i felt. A 32x20 may have been ok but with all the altitude, i figured going easier at the start and never switched. The long climbs and heavy breathing kept me at the easier choice. When riding the flats, i was spinning and fell back from other folks where a 20 would have helped get a quicker time but give and take. I talked other singles and some rode the first two stages with a 32x19 and then switched to 32x20 in the third stage. Talking to them again today, they decided to stick with the 20 for the last day.

I gotta thank all the friends on the social media for the shout outs, Coach Lockhart for getting me in shape to finish, and my family for all the patience they have had during all the time taken for training. Much Love Y'all!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Breck Epic Stage 5 - Wheeler Trail

Fuggin A! I feel like i have been beaten by a bag of baseballs. Today hurt all over. It started, of course, with a little warm up.

Innocent enough, eh? The legs were feeling a bit weak on the way to the start. Today's start was time trial style in groups of 10. The groups were based on the previous day's finishing times. A number of the people in the group were familiar since i have been ding donging back and forth with them for the entire race and finishing with similar times. At go time, it was straight climbing up Breckenridge Peak 9. It was primarily single track so there were roots and rocks to negotiate. After 3 miles of climbing, we came to a turn that took us briefly up a gravel service type road which was not at a devastating pitch leading us To Wheeler Pass and 12,000+ ft. The road of coursed ended too quickly and turned to Jeep/ATV road. Just grinding till about 4.5 miles when the terrain forced folk off the bike and the b(h)iking began. This is after climbing about 1,000 ft of elevation

One does jump on the bike briefly and get about 50 ft before it is just too much. As you can see there is a string until a bit of a summit. Trudge, trudge, and on it goes until some more nice sites.

Such a teaser since we were able to jump on the bike and ride a bit on top until forced off the bike and back to climbing. Eventually the summit was topped and there was bacon to be had. A shining beacon in the dark times. We made it over the first of the 12,000 ft passes. The descent was rocky, sketchy, scary, and brutal. There were many spots that i stepped off the bike since I wanted to see my kids another day. This trail took us back into rooty and rocky trees at about 10,600 ft and then we got to climbing again. Up, off the bike, just hiking and pushing the bike until that second effing peak was slain. Hating on it, yo. After cresting that peeg, i had to start walking down because the trail was way above my skill level. Walking the bike down what was just walked up was a curb stomp to the day. Getting off the bike to negotiate big, rocky terrain and getting on until the next obstruction. Eventually the descent, once again, is just a white knuckle session on the rear brakes with light taps on the front for a brief second that there is nothing to negotiate. This lasted a number of miles and the arms were just hammered into mush. Bam! Rock, rock, rock, root, root, root, rock...relentless. The second aid station was finally reached at mile 14 or so...3 hours into the race. I got a water bottle filled with the magic powder and headed out. 9 miles to go. Went flying thru some more bouncy down hill and after a mile, looked for my bottle and Poof! it had disappeared. Rats! I did have water in the Camelback so that was fortunate. The trail was rooty and traversed the mountain back to Breckenridge. There were some ups and downs but the end was always in sight and when that finishing line was crossed, i felt utterly destroyed. Still do. The ride was only 23 miles but there was 5200+ feet of climbing stuffed into that...and descending! Oof! Gonna get a compression session on the legs and then take some hot tub time. Word!

Tomorrow is the last stage so bring it and then I will cross the XC stage race off the list. This race has really sucked the competitive desire out. Me just want to chill, grow older and get phat! Oh, and fish, fishing is all good with me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Breck Epic Stage 4 - Aqueduct

Yesterday was a rough stage...coming out of it, my legs were tight and weak feeling. I fed on some pasta, went to sleep and hoped for the best. Woke up with the legs pretty stiff and went thru the morning routine. During the warm up, the legs loosened up a bit but they were still not feeling the strongest. At the line, talking with other riders, they seemed to be doing well. I was a bit worried and at go time,

i just tried to ease into the climbing....ease into climbing...yeah, right. So we started in town and climbed into a rhythm and just kept pace with the people. My head was sick of climbing and the legs were not into it but they were responding. The first climb was crested into a bombing downhill only to begin climbing again. This climb is called Vomit Hill for a good reason. The beginning of it was not ride-able for me so it was a hike-a-bike section. Everyone was hiking that long section. It was not relenting either. After the impossible to ride section, it was more of a slow, deceptively crushing ascent that led to some more off bike time for me. I was hoping off the bike when the going got rough figuring that i was tired already and still had a couple more stages to go.

Eventually topped that beach and descended to another climb only to descent to another climb. Those did flow and had a few rough patches but logging miles felt good. Next up was the big climb of the day that starts within sight of Keystone. This one was 2000 ft of vertical in 5 miles. It started out primarily on a gravel road at a pitch where I could keep pedaling. Eventually it turned to Jeep trail where it angled up a bit but was still ride-able. I was able to grunt to the top in about 75 minutes of steady work. The trail wound around the top for a bit and then the descent...I gotta say, that has been the most exciting descent of the race. The trails had great flow and fast, no brake sections that put the life into me. After that, it was more climbing where i had to jump off the bike a few times. From the top, it was roughly the same descent that was done yesterday. Familiar sections are a bonus. All in all, it was around 40 miles with 7000 ft of climbing...or so

At the end, i was feeling better than i was in the morning. I definitely felt better than yesterday. My post race routine starts when i get back and get my recovery drink on...Some Vega stuff that tastes fine and does what it needs to do. I get my food on too and then it is a bit of a rest. After that, i make my way to the registration tent and stop by the Elevated Legs tent where i get my compression type massage going on. It is like getting your blood pressure taken on the legs on and off for 20 min or so. This is supposed to help the circulation and i believe it has helped. I have also stopped by the SRAM tent for some support. They hooked me up yesterday by installing some new brake pads, tightening up the headset and locking down the rear dropout so my chain would not fall off. Today they took care of a pin that was falling out of the Time pedal...hopefully that pedal allows me to clip in tomorrow. I will let you know tomorrow in that post...To Be Continued...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Breck Epic Stage 3 - The Circumnavigation of Mt. Guyot

Halfway done with the Breck Epic and the legs are telling me that they want to be done. The alarm goes off at 6:00 am and so i can get the drop bags full up with needed supplies. A couple stages have 3 stations that they will bring a designated bag but generally it is two. I have been packing them up with a couple bottles with some carb powder which will be filled with water when at the aid station. On the first stage and this third stage i packed rain gear but fortunately, no rain. On stage 2, i packed no gear and Poof! sleet and rain. I am gonna pack it so it doesn't rain going forward. I may just have that power. In any case, i then take the drop bags to the designated spot and head back for some oatmeal and pb toast breakfast. Come 7:45, i'm kitted up and out the door to warm up the legs. This morning needed some warming but they were feeling alright. At 8:30 am, the race is on.

Today's stage took us to the highest point in the Breck Epic, 12,000 ft. As normal the climbing begins right away out of town. This time id ducked into single track after a few miles and i fortunately made it through the bottle neck fairly quick. The climbing kept going on and on but it was handled. I was making good time until the next ascent...which is where everyone had the time stop. This is the major climb of the day but i would say it was more of a 1000 ft ascending hike. The trail was rough and the breathing was rougher. Here is a pic of only halfway up.

That was a long slough above the tree line. Payback for that was a super sketchy downhill that lead to some good stuff. As the downhill waned, the uphill started again. Another long climb along some jeep trail that folks were driving up to check the view at the top. It was a nice view, i admit but after that climbing, i wasn't gonna loiter. I had to stop a few times on that climb to catch the breath for 20 seconds. The downhill after that though was so rocky, rooty, sketchy, and full of fear! I am not much of an enduro/downhill guy so i gotta say, there was much fear out there. It was so bumpy, my chain was through off once. After that, the momentum was gone and i fell down a couple times. i wasn't going fast so that does cause it somewhat. One of the falls bashed my seat into my leg. Ouch! Gotta sore spot there still so that will have to get worked out on the mountain tomorrow. I was so happy when that descent was done that the next batch of uphill was a welcomed safe zone. My legs didn't like it though. I had to pause a couple times to breathe and a couple times to hike a bit. Once crested, the trail went down, up a little, and down and up a little and eventually to the finish. It ended up being around 32 miles or so and 6500 ft of climbing...Oof!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Breck Epic Stage 2 - The Colorado Trail

Post day 2 feelings are much better than after yesterdays stage. The legs responded well today and they feel good...for now. The day started in town and as the norm to string out the masses, climbing is first on the agenda. This was not so bad but what really strung it out for me was a brief downhill section. The single can't keep up to geared bikes on the road so coast i did with a couple of other single speeds. The climbing then began in earnest on a gravel road. Before too long it was onto the sketchy jeep trails and that was where the grunts began. The crowd and the rocks made for a climb not conducive to utilizing momentum so there were a few spots where i had to hike briefly to get past roots or rocks. Very little time spent on the feet though so that encouraged me. The trail leveled out for a short break and then began to climb again. Made it up that and a super sketchy descent with baby head rocks all over. Survived that and took in some single track.

I was feeling pretty good still and keeping a good pace and then my chain fell off. Rats. Gotta stop and get that back on which is a bit frustrating when the rhythm get thrown off. get that on with the quickness and got going again. Rolling on and the chain fell off 4 more times so i found some shade and took the tools out. Got that tightened up, took a few pix

Got to climbing after that and it went up and up and up to 11,200 ft. Stopped twice briefly to catch my breath but predominantly road that beast. Getting near the top, it started to rain a bit. That was incentive to get off that dang mountain!! By the time i reached the descent, it was sleeting. Fricken cold Yo! Was going down a bit to fast at one point and bounced into the side of the trail and went down. Wasn't too bad but got a scratch on the forehead. Helmets save much recovery time FTW!. Got back on it and it was raining and sleeting and the trail was getting full of water. Descended through more sketchy parts and the trail was a little halfpipe of death. Caught the side of it and fell again. This was a bit rougher on the knee but all the parts were there and the bike survived. Got back on and rode it off. The rest of the way had a little climb and downhill through the trees and then a longer climb up a logging road. After that it was the descent to the finish.

Today took just over 4.5 hours while yesterday took just over 4 hours. It surprised me that this stage took longer since i felt that i was moving steady since there was little time off the bike...outside of repairs. There was around 5000 feet of climbing over the 37 mile course. Hopefully the sleep will come willfully tonight since me thinks tomorrow will be a big day.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Breck Epic Stage 1 - Pennsylvania Creek on the Singlespeed

Finally logged miles at the Breck Epic and it was as tough as expected and as awesome as well! To get a bit warmed up before the 8:30 am start, i got on the bike about 45 minutes earlier. I road to the start and then climbed up the race course on the road. All was feeling good and right when the announcer stated that there was 20 minutes to the race start, my pedal fell off. Doh! WTF, right? A quick decision was made and i made for the condo and busted out the slick park took pedal wrench and got that beast back on there with the quickness. It was then a dash to the end of the line up. No biggie being at the back. My goals for this race are to finish each day and hopefully represent MN on the lowlander singlespeeder front.

The start was just outside of town and after the Go!, there was a neutral roll out for .5 miles on our first climb. It wasn't too bad climbing on the road for the first couple miles. It was just crowded as the 350 or so riders observed the yellow line rule. I met another singlespeeder who had done time in Minneapolis and said he was on a 32x19. Looking back, i don't know how he could do each day at that gear. It looked like he was on a 29er so...i will track him down and ask if he is switching to a 20. At the 2 mile mark, it was into the single track. As to be expected, this led to some stop and go along the trail. Fortunately it wasn't for a ridiculously long time but that first taste of Breckenridge single track was sweet. It didn't take long to get to more climbing. This is when the trail started to put on the curb stomp. The trails up were often full-o-rocks and long! Climbing, climb, hop off and hike-a-bike, climb, hop off...until the top for some thrilling downhill action which often led to more climbs. The climbs were not solo either. There were always other folks that i was ding-donging with going up the hills and down. I would make some space on the downhill and singletrack but going up, my hiking often pushed me backwards. I can't blame not maintaining momentum on the other folks climbing in easier gears as an excuse, fitness above all is the issue but that elevation added a bit as well as the desire not to blow my wad on the first day. There be plenty of up and down time to be had. In any case, the first 14 miles had a number of crushing climbs.

The first feed zone was at mile 14 and i had some snax and a water bottle with EFS mix in it to switch out. Usually i carry everything on board but not knowing how my body would react got me over-planning. The volunteers were great and i made it through real fast. There was some nice single track, sketchy downhill speeds, and hike-a-bike sections until the next feed zone at mile 20. Those 6 miles went relatively fast so that felt good. From there, more climbing, hiking, white-knuckle descending, stream crossing, single track goodness, roots, rocks and then there were only 4 miles to go. the trail spilled out to a rad briefly and back into some single track climbs up a bunch of berms and then down a whole mountainside of them until the end in Breckenridge where the wife, kids, and mother-in-law were waiting.

The altitude put the hurt on me but as the trail descended back toward Breckenridge, i started feeling better. Those last 5 miles or so went well so hopefully the legs recover and after another day, i will not have as much difficulty at 11,000 ft. The stage was dusty in parts and i picked up some WD-40 dry chain lube yesterday and it worked hopefully i get a check in the mail for the plug. In any case, the stage was about 35 miles with around 5100 ft of climbing. As always i tried to keep the carbs coming in but came up a little short on my goals during the race...i am not including the bfast of oatmeal and pb bagel. I will mix the energy drink a bit thinner but carry two on board between each aid station. Gonna crack this carbo load gorilla.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Prelude for the Breck Epic

Tomorrow is the day...I will be embarking on one of those bucket list things. For the last 7 years or so, my racing has been leaning toward the endurance. Many of those exploits have been documented on this blog or on an outdated team blog. From 100 mile gravel races to 100 mile mountain bike races to 380 mile gravel races and now, to a 6 day mountain bike stage race. The Breck Epic takes place in Breckenridge, Colorado and is the start and finish of 6 days of racing up different routes. The distance each day range from 30 - 45 miles with total elevation changes each day between 4800 ft and 8100 ft of climbing. Now that sounds like an adventure that will stick with a person forever.

I was first intrigued when I was talking at the Maah Daah Hey in 2014 with Tommy E. about his exploits on the Heavy Pedal Tour. From what he was describing, the beauty, challenge, terrain, and organization all got me slobbering like Pavlov's dog. I got to looking into it right after returning from North Dakota. I found out they had a singlespeed class and i was in!!! I registered and got to letting my fitness go something fierce. Last year's CX season was plagued with a foot issue so laying off that and getting past Thanksgiving, i was ready to start with some training time.

I don't have the know to get myself ready for a day after day climbing fest based at 9500 ft and only going up. Continental divide you say, over it many times. Recovery and the lungs were what put the fear into me. I made the jump and got a coach. Shout out to Coach Fiona Lockhart!! Since the beginning of December, i have been riding longer on the weekends and shorter sessions for 3 days during the week. I have sprinkled some racing in there too and the results have been as good as they have ever been which is not so bad since I be all old and isht. Werd! Also a shout out to the family for putting up with my time spent on the bike. Much Love Y'all!

Speaking of the bike, my Ti Kona Raijin frame got bent outta shape at the end of June. There were some gremlins at work there. So a mad dash to get a new singlespeed frame was on. A week and a half before i was to leave, Gene O. got me hooked up with an aluminum Santa Cruz Highball 29'er and Chuck C. came up with the scandium Kona Big Unit. That Highball got those cartoon hearts popping up all over me so parts got switched and i got to riding. Really dug the new whip. Rode it around on some town trails and for the marathon class at a Minnesota Mountain Bike Series race. The riding was outta sight and I'm stoked to put it to the test. I am rolling a 2.4 Maxxis Ardet in the front on a RockShox SID something and a Continental XKing 2.2 on the rear hardtail. The Raceface Turbine cranks are set up with a 32 chainring connected to a 21 tooth Surly cog in the back. I brought a 20 and a 22 so as the race progresses, i figure on switching if needed. The hubs are DT Swiss 240s hubs are laced to Stans ZTR Crest rims for a tubeless ride. I picked the 21 because of the climbing and elevation and figured the 22 would be a bit too spinny for the most part.

So the bike, the training, the road trip to get here, the registration is all done and now it comes down to putting some items in the drop bags. I will be wearing a camelback for water and carrying a water bottle on the bike filed with energy drink. There are generally two aid stations for the drop bags so i will have another water bottle in each bag. I figure on filling up on water at each station to top off the camelback. I will also include a couple Honey Stinger waffles and an Enervitine cheer pack in each bag for the win. Some extra clothes with be stashed too. Oh, a tube will be in each bag....just in case.

As for what i forgot at home...i fricken forgot my Garmin so no nifty garmin files will be loaded and logged. Shucks! I will try to post each day of how everything went and all those impressions. Stay Tuned!