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2014 Breck Epic: Final Day!

0 2014 Breck Epic

Yesterday was the final stage of racing at the 2014 Breck Epic for Amy Thomas. Catch all of her stage recaps here!

It’s really hard to believe today was the last day. While I am relieved to no longer sleep in compression tights and eat boatloads of sugar throughout the day, I am really sad it’s over. This week of riding I will never forget, in part to not just the amazing amounts of hard riding, but to this great community that has formed over the week. I hope to ride again with so many new friends.

2014 Breck Epic

The final stage of the Breck Epic is one to really enjoy. Our women’s 40+ category was pretty secure in the overall time gaps so we rode together and enjoyed the stage. It was another spectacular Colorado morning and now that the race is over, I can finally say we had amazing weather all week.

We rode together at a comfortably fast pace through most of the day. After the ripping fun Gold Dust descent, it was a 6 mile climb back up Boreas Pass and then some more burpees at the summit for good measure. To say this week was great is an understatement. With the goal of just finishing to then landing on the podium with these two other amazing riders is beyond words. It’s fair to say this has been one of the best racing experiences of my life.

Finish!

I’ve had an immense support system and would like to acknowledge these people for believing in the belt buckle:

2014 Breck Epic
Chelsea from the hospital to the finish line I couldn’t have gotten here without you.
Tim you nailed my training this year and going into Day 1, I knew it was going to be a great week.

Natalie and Sean you should be Breck Epic consultants. Thank you for all the beta, miles riding together, and confidence I could get to Day 6.
My best training buddies Eddie, Chelsea, Jacque, Julia, and Joel all the miles together made training that much more fun.

Sponsors

NoTubes not a single flat in tire eating rocks in over 200 miles.
Endurobites Beta Red pre-race drink and Endurobites on the bike
Honey Stinger
Ergon my happy hands the whole week
Elevated Legs squeeze pre and post race
Twin Six
Optic Nerve
Yeti Cycles
Elevation Cycles
Noosa

2014 Breck Epic: Wheeler Pass

0 2014 Breck Epic

Daily race reports of the 2014 Breck Epic from Amy Thomas of the Yeti Beti MTB Team.

It took 5 days but it finally hit me. I am tired. Stage 5, Wheeler Pass, is a deceivingly hard stage. On the course profile map it looks like a giant kidney bean over the Ten Mile Range between Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. At “only” 28 miles and @5000’ climbing, you expect the day to finish easy peasy. What the map fails to show is that most of that climbing comes in the first 7 miles and tops out at 12,460’ at the summit. Only 5 of those miles are rideable.

2014 Breck Epic

Easy enough, eh?

Social Hour on Wheeler Pass should be the name of this stage. Our speed topped out at 1.4 mph as we pace lined it up the pass… and by pace line I mean a line of people seemingly out for a casual stroll at 12,000′. Included in that line of bike pushers, and literally right behind me, was 3rd place Melissa. We spent the morning hiking tougher but when the temps dropped and the wind picked up, I thought it best to pull out the arm warmers. That was the last I saw of her. I doubt she would have waited around while I completed my 5 burpees on the top of the pass anyway. I finished my burpees but some how missed the bacon and whiskey shots. How did I miss the bacon? I LOVE bacon!

After getting all hypoxic from my burpees, I took off down the pass. In the back of my head I thought I could catch Melissa and tore off down the hill. Not 50 feet from the summit I crashed off the right side of the trail and bloodied up my knee. I got up take off, and this time I crash to the left. Luckily I landed in some cushy bushes but was stuck turtled under my bike. After the consecutive crashes I thought it was wise to chill out for a bit. The descent down Wheeler is no joke with wet roots, steep rocks and serious consequences should you crash. It’s why they have medics at the top and bottom of the trail.

I made it down to Aid 2 in one piece and was greeted with a friendly face, Zach. For the rest of the day Zach became my brain as obviously I needed some help in that department! The next piece of climbing was Miner’s Creek Road. I have nothing nice to say about this 3 mile climb, so I’ll leave it at that. Zach kept me moving at a good pace and we alternated between walking when it was stupid to try and keep pedaling and riding when I could. Zach’s wife Amy caught up to us since she seems to like ridiculously steep climbs a lot more than me. We finally made it to the last few miles on the Peak’s Trail. It’s a trail we ride often and after that last awful climb, I rallied home. When it was all said and done I lost about 2 minutes to Melissa when I could have easily lost more. I really tried to pull it back towards the end and was happily surprised to have a little left in the tank.

I can’t believe tomorrow is the final stage. It’s going to be a big conga line of happy racers relishing in what has been an unforgettable week of riding in the Rocky Mountains. I can’t wait!!

Breck Epic: Keystone Aqueduct

0 2014 Breck Epic

Daily race reports of the 2014 Breck Epic from Amy Thomas of the Yeti Beti MTB Team.

Over the hump!

Day 4 is a monster loop that brings us from Breckenridge to Keystone and back with a few big ridges in between. Today we rode about 42 miles and 6500′ of climbing and was reminded that “it ain’t called the Breck Epic Tickle Fight”.

The routine now is pretty set from day to day and we are pretty dialed with our mornings. I throw on my Elevated legs for about a half an hour while my amazing wife makes coffee and breakfast. 60 minutes before I roll out I drink some Beta Red, a beet juice supplement our Endurobites sponsor has been working on. Brian explained how it works, something about nitrate oxide and blood and going fast. What I know is that I have been feeling pretty good and my starts have been pretty fast when a typical start for me is more like our sprinter without the turbo.

Today was arguably harder than yesterday’s trek around Guyot but with less walking. I’m happy this isn’t a walking competition because I would be dead last. I settled in with some familiar faces early on. It’s been really awesome to have people to ride with over the last 4 days. The first nasty climb today was called Vomit Hill. That pretty much sums it up. It’s a vertical ascent of kitty litter followed by a run out scree of kitty litter. I don’t like kitty litter. It’s what shattered my pelvis. At this point in the week, it’s about making safe decisions over speed. I rode the brakes through the twisty, loose, off chamber kitty litter singletrack all the way down to Keystone Ranch and arrived in one piece.

2014 Breck Epic

The big climb today was about 7 miles from Keystone to the top of West Ridge on the Colorado Trail. What is starting to become a regular occurrence, half way up the climb Melissa who is currently in 3rd caught me. It was great timing as I needed someone to help me forget how I was feeling. She lit that match and while my response was again like an old sprinter without a turbo…. I thought I might be able to catch her before the upcoming West Ridge descent. At about 11,200’ as we crested the Colorado Trail, I took a second and then made my move. Oh how I love that descent! The clouds were building ahead and even with my bundle of rain gear, I prefer not to ride in high country rain. I put my head down and used what was left in my reservers to get up that last climb. I managed to finish before the rain, Melissa or complete exhaustion caught up with me and managed to beat my goal of 5 hours. This is nearly an HOUR after some of the fastest ladies out there are finishing up.

Another 2nd in the stage and overall with 2 more stages to go. What started out as a goal just to finish and has become a bit more competitive than I ever thought it would be. Thank you Melissa for pushing me and lighting those fires!

I have my hikers out for tomorrow’s stage, a nice hike up Wheeler Pass up to almost 13,000 with a pleasant forecast of thunderstorms, bacon, and my much touted “Wheeler Pass Burpee Challenge”. Yup, even if Melissa is on my tail, I will do 5 burpees in Stage 5 in honor of my CrossFit peeps. I think I should do burpees, bacon and then descend like a rocket.

2014 Breck Epic: Circumnavigation of Mount Guyot

0 2014 Breck Epic

Daily race reports of the 2014 Breck Epic from Amy Thomas of the Yeti Beti MTB Team.

Three down, three to go!!

While the major goal of this week is to get through all 6 stages, there was one stage in particular that has caused some PTSD since 2010. As the name suggests, the Circumnavigation of Mount Guyot is not the shortest point from A to B. It’s a BIG day, lots of steep, unrideable (for most of us) climbing, with some of the gnarliest technical descents in the county. On fresh legs, these trails are brutal. Coming on day 3, it makes it all the much more trickier to not make mistakes.

2014 Breck Epic Elevation

On the stage map, it’s only 13 miles to the top of Guyot from the start. Part of how I deal with getting around these big days is taking each segment at a time. I’ve also decided to take a similar approach to an enduro race. There are so many matches left and I can’t afford to start a fire I can’t contain. While my climbing times aren’t where they could be, a marathon a day for 6 days is a guesstimate how of much you still have for the remaining stages. While the pros are used to performing at theses levels all the time, us mere mortals in the middle of the pack resort to different tactics. Mine is apparently working.

The views from today were unreal. It’s definitely a good reason to do a race like this. As you are slogging your bike up French Pass at what seems like a straight up vertical ascent, you have to remind yourself to look up. There was a line of riders, succumb to walking, for as far as you can see, dwarfed by 13,000′ peaks in 360 degree panorama.

As the week has progressed, you end up riding with a lot of familiar faces. While I didn’t see my Texan friend, I made a few new friends, including Melissa. She currently sits in 3rd overall behind me and she caught up to me on the hike a bike up Guyot. It completely squashed my plan to take a few photos at the top, but while this is a race, and she was right behind me, I did have to keep going. We stayed together up Georgia Pass. She’s from Pennsylvania and wasn’t having a hard time talking so I figured she wasn’t feeling too badly. The Colorado Trail off Georgia Pass is long and technical. Having just ridden it last month, I was hoping I could maybe get some distance on my new friend. I didn’t see her again until I saw her finish. I am still holding 2nd overall with Genevieve solidly in first, and Melissa now in 3rd. There are still 3 hard stages so I will still relish in these podium victories. They do not come easily.

2014 Breck Epic

Tomorrow is the longest stage of the week. We head over for a big tour near Keystone Resort, some 40 miles and 7000′ climbing. My friends Amy and Zach Caldwell from Vermont will be joining me these last 3 stages. It’s been really awesome to have them, along with Chelsea, Amy’s mom Marilyn and their son Gunnar, here. Amy and I became friends in 1991 from a local triathlon team in Duluth. We’ve done a lot of crazy things over the years and it’s great that we still are at it, albeit a little slower but none the less competitive. Chelsea has been nothing less than amazing. She’s taken this week off to look after me, keep me calm, fed, and be just all around awesome.

2014 Breck Epic: Colorado Trail

1 2014 Breck Epic

Daily race reports of the 2014 Breck Epic from Amy Thomas of the Yeti Beti MTB Team.

Day 2 of Breck Epic defines the perfect pairing of ebb and flow. It’s the Colorado Trail stage and that name says it all. If you only have ONE trail to ever ride in Colorado,  ride ANY section of the Colorado Trail. It’s all amazing and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

The morning started off picturesque with the back drop of Breckenridge Ski resort soaring up from the starting line, blue bird skies, and a little less nervousness on the start line. I imagine as the week goes on, everyone will be mellower as any amount of energy you have, you need to save it for pedaling.

While the first big climb was aptly named Heinous Hill, it was rideable from bottom to top thanks to all the nightly rain. With 400 racers still tightly bunched and all aiming for the same line, it felt like I was riding like a complete drunk, avoiding swooning riders and chunky rocks.

One lesson about Breck Epic is to never underestimate the climbs. There is always more climbing. While I had anticipated Heinous being the only climb I would possibly need to walk today, Heinous Hill has an evil twin, called Abominable Ass Kicking. I would be perfectly content never seeing that hill again. All I will say is that no one in the group ahead or behind me actually rode it.

2014 Breck Epic

The highlight of my day, similar to Day 1, was riding with the Texan, David. He caught up to me just after the first aide station. We stayed together for the next couple of hours as I played tour guide up and down the Colorado Trail. Once you hit the top of West Ridge, it’s one of the best descents anywhere in Colorado. Six miles of fast flowing bliss with spectacular views if you can look up for a nanosecond.

2014 Breck Epic

The rest of the miles were mostly a blur of dirt that I saw as I hung my head down, just grinding out the last climb. I felt better than Day 1 but I am already feeling the effects of consecutive hard days at altitude. Tomorrow is an even bigger stage, Mt Guyot, 37 miles with 6700′ climbing. It’s the stage that killed me in 2010. While I am still holding 2nd place overall, my mantra is simply just keep pedaling, or walking, which will be the case tomorrow. The woman holding 1st both yesterday and today, Genevieve Evans, turned 41 yesterday. A Breck Epic orange leader’s jersey is a pretty sweet gift!

2014 Breck Epic: Pennsylvania Gulch

1 2014 Breck Epic

Daily race reports of the 2014 Breck Epic from Amy Thomas of the Yeti Beti MTB Team.

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!

BreckEpic 2014

How Should Bike Shops Be Using Social?

6 Social Media for Bike Shops

As you are probably aware, I am an active user and abuser of social media channels. By priority and preference I use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to converse with fellow bike nerds and promote this website.

I have been doing my best to Like, Follow and curate all local bike shops on the various platforms. While it is encouraging to see more and more local bike shops harnessing the power of social media, it is disheartening to see the limited updates, the Tweets that are simply Facebook updates with the fb link and the lack of engaging, original, content.

Yes, I get it. There is not enough time in the day, but social is here for the taking. I’m also a bit biased since a good part of my professional life is in a digital ad agency running social strategy and content creation for large corporations.

Before I launch into a “how-to” series I would love some comments from local bike shops & consumers.

Local bike shops – What are your current pros and cons? What is working, what is confusing and where do you want to go with your digital marketing?

Consumers – How do you want your local bike shop to be using the social channels you are on?

 

Denver Event: Bike Parade for 26th Avenue Bike Lane Opening

0 COUNCILMAN HERNDON'S FAMILY BIKE PARADE

Saturday (tomorrow), August 9th at 11am on the Green in Stapleton. Celebration at the Smiley Campus until 1pm.

Councilman Chris Herndon invites you to join his family bike parade and celebrate the opening of the 26th Avenue bike lane. The parade begins at 11:00 AM at The Green on 29th Avenue in Stapleton and ends with a celebration at the Smiley Campus in Park Hill.

Decorate your bike, pack a picnic lunch and invite your neighbors!

Joining the fun at the Smiley Campus:

  • Denver Fire Department

  • Denver Police Department

  • Bike Decorating with BikeDenver

  • Denver Animal Shelter & adoptable animals

  • Northeast Transportation Connections

  • Walk2Connect

  • Farms 4 Kids & farm animals

  • Denver Municipal Band

  • Food Trucks

  • Bombo’s Shave Ice