Friday, August 17, 2012

Breck Epic Stage 6

The final stage of the race!  Today's word of the day..."pssssss" (yes it's a word in my vocabulary, damn it)

Today we started at the Ice Rink and rolled up Boreas Pass Rd for a few miles before turning left onto a singletrack trail.   As with most xc races, there was a cluster f _ _ k as we entered the singletrack.  As in the previous 3 stages, I had a hard time getting my breathing under control.  Once things settled down it was once again Shawn Bunnin, myself, and Nathan Brown riding together.  We eventually caught up to Ryan Clark and Zeke Hersh.  It stayed this way for a while until we popped out of the trail and onto a fireroad, which would be the first of 2 long steady climbs.

 Nathan, Ryan, and myself began to pull away from the others and settled into a fast pace that was making it difficult to get a deep breath in.  I knew today was going to be a shorter day, so I wasn't too concerned about burning the matches so to speak.  We continued climbing and eventually reached the summit and Aid Station #1.  Grabbed a bottle and pushed on.  We entered a fun singletrack descent that was filled with burms and turns.  There must have been about 100 swooping turns in this section.

We then popped out onto another fireroad and continued climbing.  This is when I noticed I had a slow leak in my rear tire.  Slow leaks to me are the worst because it's tough deciding whether or not to keep riding.  I stopped and filled the tire with some Co2 to top it off hoping that  it would fill and let the Stan's sealant work it's magic.  Well it wouldn't, it continued to slowly leak (aka:  psssss).  So over the next 5-8 miles or so, i stopped a few more times just topping the tire off rather than completely fixing the flat.  I eventually lost contact with Nathan and Ryan but could still see them a short distance away.  This climb would turn out to be a brutal climb due to the headwind.  I'm not sure how strong it was blowing but it sure felt like at least a 20-30 mph wind.  Riding solo into this wind was extremely tough, would have been nice to have others to draft off.

After pushing myself in and out of the pain cave I finally reached the summit and Aid Station #2, with the Duo team of Blake Harlan and Bryan Alders shortly behind.  Grabbed another bottle and a PBR (yes today someone was handing out cans of PBR).  Man, the things we do during bike races, first it's bacon at 12,200ft, then it's a PBR at 11,000ft.  I took 2 big sips and tossed it to the side and began a fast descent down the fireroad we climbed the first time.  3-4  miles on this road and then we made a left turn into a rocky descent.   I stopped once again in this section to top off the rear tire.  I could hear the rim banging against the rocks and being a carbon Enve rim I was getting worried I was going to ruin the rim.  After cautiously manuevoring my way down this trail Harlan and Alders passed me and once we reached the bottom that's when I decided to fix the frickin' flat.  I had had enough and didn't want to ruin the rim.  While fixing the flat I was passed by at least 5-6 more riders and there was only about 2.5 miles to the finish.  As they say, "timing is everything".  I was mentally defeated and the remaining few miles to the finish were demoralizing to say the least.

I had lost my Top-10 placing anyways as Jake Wells had a stellar day today finishing in 3rd place.  This I believe moved him into 10th.  I finished 11th overall.

All I can say is that I rode my ass off this week and didn't leave anything on the table.  Riding at altitude is definitely a new challenge, each day seemed to be a new hurdle.  I was hoping to finish in the Top 10, but results are not everything.  The experiences I encountered this week, the pain I endured, the trails I rode, and the people I met totally out weight a result.  This is the type of race that makes you or breaks you...and I can honestly say I was close to being broken a few times.  Super tough event and would recommend it to anyone who had above average bike skills, and wants to suffer, alot.  

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