Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breck Epic Stage 3

I will stay with the theme I have going.  So, today's stage word of the day is "altitude", as in very high and near 12,000ft.  Breathing was a little more difficult at times today as we crossed the Continental Divide I believe.

There was talk last night during the racers meeting that if the weather had continued as it was yesterday that they would possibly cancel the stage.  Fortunately, the weather gods cooperated with us and provided a prefect day with sun and mild temps.  Seeing as though we climbed up to nearly 12,000ft the temps definitely dropped near the summit but not too bad.

More great race highlights from Thom Parsons

We rolled out as we did yesterday only adding some more dirt road mileage.  It started out nice and smooth but quickly turned to typical "Colorado rocky".  The leaders quickly began to pull away and I had nothing in the tank at he moment to redline the HR.  I was able to maintain a steady pace along with Nick Truitt and one other rider as we began to climb on Minne Mine trail I believe.  This was a nice flowing trail that traversed along a ridge before dropping down a very technical rocky road.  A couple gravel roads mixed in and a few Aid Stations preceded the epic climbs of the day.  The first was to the highest point on the course.  There were a few hike-a-bike sections as well for good humor.  Trying to push your bike up a 30 degree pitch above 11,000ft is harder than it sounds.  Oh and just to make it even more fun the trail was flooded with rocks.  Upon reaching the summit I took a few deep breaths and began what was so far the most gnarly descent.  Not sure how long it was but it was a super narrow trail with raised grass edges on each side.  If you didn't keep your tire in the trail you were in for some trouble.  I nearly ate it twice, just barely keeping the rubber side down.  As I always like to say, "out of control, yet in control".

descending near the finish

After wiping the groin off my face at the bottom it was time to put the frown face back on as it was time to begin yet another steep climb.  This one however was as bad as most of it was on a relatively smooth fireroad.  There was a group of 4 of us working together on this climb (Jake Wells, Nick Truitt, Zeke Hersh, and myself).  We were caught by singlespeeder Macky Franklin and I worked to stay on his wheel.  As I did this I separated myself from the other 3 riders.  This climb lasted a good 20-30 minutes and then we began another frickin' sweet descent.  This time we descended the Colorado Trail.  It began as a smooth switch-backy trail that turned to a rooty (BC style) trail and finally finished as a gnarly rocky trail.  I think this was the most fun section of the day.  I love when you have to concentrate so hard to choose a good line; the consequences could be pretty damn bad if you were to choose a bad line.  I was caught by Truitt and I stayed on his wheel as we passed a few other riders.  At the bottom Hersh joined us as we picked up another bottle in the Aid Station and began the final climb of the day.  I thought this would be a little easier looking at the course profile, but this climb (mostly fireroad) seemed to be the hardest.  It might be due to the fact that there were some very steep sections that I could just muster enough strength to turn the pedals.  I think the only thing keeping me going was the Hammer Nutrition in my bottles.

hanging out post-race

After finishing this climb the final miles left were a combination of rocky jeep roads, and more singletrack.   I could definitely feel the legs beginning to lose energy and it became harder to turn a bigger gear.  I was just hoping there would be any surprise climbs left on the course.  With about 2 miles to go, Hersh (10th overall) slowly opened a gap on me that I wasn't able to close.  The time he put on me today narrowed my lead on him for 9th place in the GC.

I think I finished around 9th or 10th today but will know for sure later tonight.

I think this video sums up yesterday's Stage 2.  It's from Thom Parsons who has been out on the course shooting lots of video and sharing post-race interviews on cyclingdirt.

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