The poet Jim Harrison once wrote:
“the earth’s proper scripture could be written on a three by five card if we weren’t drunk on our own blood.”
It’s that type of existential succinctness that prompts a physically unrelenting event (6-days, 240 miles of dirt riding, over 40,000 feet of climbing) with only three rules:
By all accounts, the Breck Epic is not subtle. Last week, Velocio’s Director of Retail, Olivia Dillon partook. Here’s what she learned:
Tayler was scheduled to race the Colorado Classic before Breck Epic so we planned a Colorado road trip to acclimatize to the high altitude for the races and explore new places. We hit up Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Moab UT, Telluride CO, Crested Butte CO, Colorado Springs for the start of the Colorado Classic and then Breckenridge.
Each place was new experience and we camped out in our roof top tent in some really cool locations. It was certainly more technical than I anticipated but I was also blown away by the fact that there are so many phenomenal trails within the area of Breckenridge. Yes, we hit some of the same ones a couple of times but every day was a really different experience. While I live in Fairfax, CA, the supposed home of mountain biking, we really don't have anything close to what exists in Colorado certainly not legally.
So doing these events is also about the opportunity to ride courses I never could put together myself. I've spent 2016 & 2017 transitioning from road and definitely have discovered a new passion. I loved road racing and everything involved and feel lucky to have had that career. It was nerve-racking when I retired as I did not know where I would find a competitive outlet. I had dabbled in mountain biking and Tayler had bought me a CX bike so I just started riding off-road more and signing up for events I could never really do when road racing. I've done so many cool events/races like the Grasshoppers, Lost & Found, Grinduro, SoNomas, Epic Rides MTB races and now Break Epic. I tend to just jump into things and see what happens. While I don't train anymore, no Garmin or power meter I just ride my bike whenever I can; my road racing experience brings a lot to these type of events. I can suffer through anything and have the mental stubbornness and endurance to finish.
It was all hard. Every day was pretty grueling. First you basically start at 10,000ft and whether you're acclimatized or not, that altitutde is significant and you have to manage your efforts carefully. There was a ton of climbing every day with some nasty steep technical climbs that you have no choice but to hike. I had a bit of trouble; 3 significant crashes; on the first day I clipped a pedal hard on a rock with only one hand on the handlebar on a ridge so crashed on my face and bike tumbled down the ridge.
On the 3rd day I was feeling really good and had a great ride after being bummed out on day 2. I was screaming down a fire road descent a few miles from the finish feeling super confident and took a turn too fast and crashed into a tree and went over handlebars. I bruised my ribs and landed on hard my wrist.
Thankfully SRAM provided neutral support and help me out each day when I needed my bike looked over after the crashes. The race is super well organized with Aid Stations. You just send filled Aid bags every day and they have them waiting for you at the stops.
The volunteers would refill my camelback and grab me whatever. needed. Otherwise my support crew was Tayler, who cooked dinners every night and looked after me in general.
I was pretty blown after puncturing and crashing but looking around at the spectacular scenery I said I'm coming back next year for sure. Then on the last day the organizers did a great job of making the course super fun so that you finish the 6-days on a high and are ready to come back.
The whole event is really well run and Michael, who organizes the whole thing seems to think of everything.
With professional cycling via the Team TIBO and Podium Ambition programs now in her rearview mirror, Sara Headley experiences the Green Mountain Stage Race in a new light and on her own terms. See her photo essay on the Green Mountain Stage Race.
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