With a six day stage race, which day is hump day, stage 3 or 4? As we had yesterday, Breckenridge delivered another stunning summers day for the fourth stage. By this time of the race, your routine should be pretty set. You know when to wake up, what to put in your Aid Station bags, when to roll down to the race start. All of a sudden, racing your mountain bike has become routine.
The riding was far from routine today. The bunch was a little smaller, as the Epic-Curious 3 day event has finished. That’s not overly noticeable when you’re racing.
After yesterday’s DNF, the Race Director Mike MacCormack allowed me to start today, giving me the slowest time in my category plus one minute for yesterday’s stage. I felt far from good, but started anyway, and had the reminder that even with slightly fresher legs, that doesn’t make up for fitness based around lower intensities and being used to greater oxygen saturation. I went backwards from the front group quite quickly, settling in amongst some familiar riders as we hit Heinous Hill.
The Breck Epic has many categories for different ages, genders, singlespeed, and paired options. So you do see a lot of Leaders jerseys on course. But even if there aren’t many people in one category, it doesn’t mean the racing isn’t close. Friends Mike Hogan and Thomas Dooley (Team Kappius) are leading the Masters Duo category, but were being pushed hard by the Rotor Team. The Open Men’s and Open Women’s race is still very close, and the Singlespeed lead was lost by Brady Kappius, going back to Macky Franklin. There’s still a lot going on!
As I see myself essentially out of the race, I was keen to ride with friends, in the mountains, as quickly as I could. After riding a little with Team Kappius, I rode back up to Rus Kappius, gratefully cleaning a climb up an erosion gully. People in the greater region could probably hear the breathing.
What is really impressing me here is how quick the singlespeed racers are. They monster their gear past you on a climb, finding traction where you didn’t think it was possible, rail the downhills, and spin insanely fast on the flats. It’s very impressive.
The course took us up a long climb way back up to the Colorado Trail, so we descended what we climbed on the Stage Two Hypothermia Stage. The descent was amazing, with lots of loamy dirt up top, and more rock and dusty dirt as we hit the valley. The riding here is truly amazing, and in hindsight, I was pushing hard there, riding with a couple of mates and having a blast.
A dirt road blast down the valley, with a few near missed with four wheelers coming up, took us to the last Aid Station, some gratefully received fuel, and then climbs that felt like running into a wall! Our three amigos of myself, Rus and Johannes stuck together, then increasingly stuck it to each other as the last 7 miles dragged on. The last loop of singletrack was good, but before hitting it we could hear Larry on the microphone, so the finish seemed a lot closer than what it was. But can you ever be frustrated by more singletrack?
Matthys Beukes won the Open Men’s event, and Yolandi du Toit won the womens’s. I’m not sure where I finished in Open Men’s but I’m not too fussed, as I had an awesome day out racing on great trails with mates. Two more days where I can do the same!