After yesterday’s testing and traumatic conditions, Breckenridge treated Breck Epic racers to the kind of weather they would expect in Summer. Cool air greeted racers in town for the start – but the sky was blue and everyone was smiling.
The Breck Epic offers a lot of support for racers. Not only are there Aid Stations along the route with medical help, lots of volunteers, Gu nutrition and mechanical help, you can also send a bag to each aid station. Experienced racers use this well, filling their bags with items like spare tyres and sealant, CO2 canisters and of course food and filled bottles. After yesterday, jackets and extra clothing were added to many bags.
The sun shone and after the road start we were onto tacky dirt roads, and then singletrack climbs that showed little of the rain from the past day. Not that there was much time to look around, most people were heavily focused on their line up the steep trail, and finding places to pass if possible.
I found myself climbing with Russ Kappius again – so far that’s my high watermark when on the trail. Russ has won whatever division he has entered in all the Breck Epics he has competed in. We hit the singletrack traverse to French’s Gully in a group of five or so, and the back of my legs were feeling wet. Probably just some water spraying up, right?
This section is notorious for flat tyres, due to a lot of the mining refuse and sharp rocks. I took a cautious look down and saw latex sprayed on my legs. Damn. A hole in the tyre. Riding on I hoped it would seal, but I needed to stop to let it sit and hopefully plug. I thought of those Genuine Innovations tyre plugs, and how I didn’t have any. Bad move.
Most of all it gave me time to realise how uncomfortable I was. After waking up with some sort of allergic reaction overnight, the palms of my hands and soles of my feet were super itchy, swollen and uncomfortable, with a strange reaction over a lot of my limbs and extremities. Not scratching took a concerted effort, and taking my hands off the bars or my shoes off to relieve the irritation wasn’t a proper option. Having stopped, I was aware how much I couldn’t stop trying to tear my skin off.
Aid Station one was at the base of the rocky descent, so I nursed the slow leak down and came in to the sounds of The Pet Shop Boys track West End Girls. Has Larry the announcer ripped my Spotify playlist? With a plan to descend to town and stock up on antihistamines, I was really pleased to get help from the medical crew there. They verified they’re thoughts on treatment with a local doctor and I had a small injection of antihistamines, plus a few pieces of paper to sign.
My race for the day, and my ranking for the week, were done.
With a lift back to town, and the showers closed until 2pm, I thoroughly enjoyed the cold water at the bike wash to sooth irritations.
So now, it’s a case of being uncomfortable and unranked. Today would have been a great hard day of racing about 75km and about 2500m of climbing on some of the Colorado Trail plus time above the treeline. But not for me.
Riders came in saying how tough but how good the course was today. The Breck Epic delivered on a day to wash the memories of stage 2 away, and I’m gutted I only got to take part in 20km of that. You can’t undo a DNF. Ben Sonntag moved into the the leaders jersey after stage 2, but Ben Swanepoel took the win today. Sonntag still holds the leaders jersey. Amanda Carey is still holding the women’s lead after taking the jersey yesterday.
The Breck Epic is also the unofficial Singlespeed Stage Race World Championships, and Brady Kappius took the leaders jersey today, and holds it by about four minutes. A lot of the racing is pretty tight, and the tough conditions could easily see leads lost over the next three stages.