Thursday, August 16, 2012

Breck Epic Stage 5

Well well well, the queen stage of the race, Wheeler Pass.  The word for today's stage was "hike-a-bike".

congregating before today's start

We staged today's race at the Beaver Run Ski Lift and immediately began what turned out to be a 40 minute'ish climb up Wheeler Pass.  Included in theis climb was a 3 mile hike-a-bike section that would eventually bring us to the summit at over12,200ft.  Trying to breath while pushing a bike at that elevation after already feeling tired is torture.  The cool thing about it was the views.  Fortunately, due to the low speed of pushing a bike, I was able to look around and soak in the views of the mountains that surrounded us.  It reminded me a little of the Trans Rockies race a few years ago when we crossed the Continental Divide., panoramic!  Upon reaching the summit, there was a guy handing out strips of cooked bacon (that's right, bacon) and damn did it taste good.  Being handed bacon at 12,200ft on a bike ride is something I am not accustomed to on a regular basis...:-)

Great stage highlights once again from Thom Parsons.  Check it here.  Don't mind my lame bike skills thru the rocks.

As with all climbs there is always the reward of a descent.  And by descent I mean a 20 min screamin' descent over loose rocks and along a ridge.  Make a wrong move or turn and the result could be ugly.  No wrong turns for me ...:-).  By the time I reached the bottom of the descent my hands had gone numb, and for the remainder of the stage I had the feeling of needles in my hands.  Shawn Bunnin and I rode the remaining miles to the finish together; which when you are out in the middle of nowhere it's always nice to have another rider nearby.  We continued descending from Wheeler Pass along a bike path from Copper Mtn. towards Breckenridge.   We were able to trade pulls which allowed us to keep our speed high and conserve a little energy.

This path lasted for about 5 miles before we reached Aid Station #3.  We both grabbed a bottle and continued on to the finish. and for the next 8 miles or so we rode some of the best technical, rooty singletrack around.  We paralleled a river and the trail was constantly undulating, however, it sure felt as though we were just climbing more.  Roots covered the trail and occasionally we came across some rocky sections and log bridges, but mostly just roots.   I rode the full suspension bike today so riding over the roots was much more enjoyable than it has been the last few days.

Near the finish Shawn took the lead and I dropped my chain so he crossed the line a few seconds ahead of me.  Shawn and I raced against each other a few weeks ago at the Furious 3 event up in Fernie, BC.  Today's stage was very reminiscent of that race as he and I finished 1,2 at that event and always were riding together in the lead.

Finished 13th today and held on to 10th overall in GC.  I am up 7 minutes on Jake Wells who is sitting in 11th, and am only 6 minutes behind Zeke Hersh who is in 9th.  The fight for the overall win is even closer between Matt Buekes, Ben Sonntag, and Ben Melt Swanepoel.  As Jerry (the awards announcer) put it, it's gonna be a dog fight tomorrow.  Throw them in a cage and lock the door.  Should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Weather the last 2 days has been nothing but ideal with temps in the 70's and sunny.  It seems as though I can sense the fatigue amongst other riders and that everyone is looking forward to the final day.  Looking at last years' results, the final day seems to be a shorter distance, less climbing, and less total ride time as well.   

1 comment:

Buns said...

Sloane, it was fun racing together. I also thought of F3 and how much faster these trails would be at 30% of the altitude!