The mountain bike stage racing format is flourishing. Race promoters have built on the original success of the Transalp race (amongst others), and either developed similar events, or customised the format in time to suit the region and demands of the racers. Other long running stage races, like the Crocodile Trophy, have dropped down from 24 days to 9 as promoters cater to racers.
Each race has it’s own appeal. The ABSA Cape Epic stands head and shoulders above other events for the depth of the elite field, and the huge level of organisation. The Craft Bike Transalp takes an amazing point to point route through the European Alps with a massive amount of climbing. BC Bike Race is renowned for the trail riding on offer, and the Crocodile Trophy is well regarded for the extreme endurance required.
The Breck Epic comes and offers what so many riders and racers demand: high quality trails, in a hard environment with top end racing. The trails used are remnants from those used by miners, that have been kept open by those following outdoor pursuits. At about 385km with just under 12 000m of climbing over 6 days, you could be forgiven for thinking the race may not be as gruelling as what other stage races may offer. But are those races at such altitude as Breckenridge is? The recent Craft Bike Transalp topped out on Stage 3 with the pass over the Idjoch (2735m) – but that is still shy of the town of Breckenridge at 2900m. Then add in predominantly single track for the racing – and you have a tough six days of racing.
So is this a ‘real’ mountain bike race then? With the increased speed of marathon racing, and the shortening of cross country events, some people are lamenting the lack of ‘real’ mountain bike races. Although I’m not sure what the ‘real’ mountain biking is that is often referred to, it seems like the Breck Epic will be offering hard trails and sharp racing, where your ability to handle a bike will be well rewarded.
MarathonMTB.com will be racing the Breck Epic, when it starts on August 12th. We will have day to day race coverage and photo highlights. So check back and see how one of the most popular MTB Stage Races in North America pans out.
Still curious about the belt buckle? Well, set the time aside for 2013 and get ready to earn yours.