11 Aug 2014 Breck Epic: Pennsylvania Gulch
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for Breck Epic to start, it finally happened. With a record attendance of over 400 racers, the start was definitely a little nerve wracking. One of the cardinal rules of the Breck Epic is “don’t be a dick”. With everyone gunning for good position on the initial singletrack descent with only a 2 mile road climb to spread out that large of a field, I can happily say everyone (at least within 10 riders of me) was really respectful.
What I remembered about the 2010 Penn Gulch stage is that I suffered. I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t the only one today. The climbs are generally between 10-20% for what seems like hours. Today didn’t disappoint. It still was a grind when you could ride, and a slow hike a bike when forced to walk. It’s a brutal welcoming to the week ahead. By the time you hit the first aide station on Boreas Pass road, you’ve ascended almost 3,000 feet in only 14 miles. I regressed to “just keep pedaling” in my new granny gear.
After aide 1, I found myself with another rider from Texas. He was really chatty from being from sea level and we stayed together until aide 2. On the fast, loose descent down Sallie Barber I heard a few Yee-HAWs behind me as he seemed to enjoy the relief from climbing. It was quite entertaining to ride with him. I’m always impressed with the sea level riders who come to Breck to race.
The last 5 miles were the most pleasant with trails I have ridden quite a bit. I hit the new Barney Flow trail with berms, jumps, bridges, and skinnys with an open trail and just enjoyed the final descent to the finish. Right behind me was friend Cristienne who’s also been riding all summer with the same focus. I have a feeling we will be pushing each other the rest of the week. As it stands, we are 2nd and 3rd and only 2 minutes apart. Off to a good start!