The last day of a stage race can be a mixed affair. Some races will deem it a parade, or perhaps a section will be unofficially neutral, until the racing starts at the end. With a six day stage race, there isn’t really the scope to do that. And with such a good course set, who would want to roll it in neutral?
Yet again, Breckenridge turned it on with the weather. The memories of cold, wet and even hypothermic conditions from Monday are all but gone, save for a few fingertips that are still numb. The trails are dry, the legs a bit sore, but everyone here has been mountain biking all week – what’s not to like?
The neutral start up the hill didn’t quite thin the bunch down enough, and there was a bottle neck as we crossed into a singletrack climb. Some people fell off. Some people unclipped. Others ran through the trees. Some stressed, but most people were mellow.
Back down the field, I moved up with a few other riders and started racing up to where we would normally, be – with our physiological partners. After a long contouring singletrack section, we hit the Boreas Pass road. Like yesterday, this stage really felt more like some other mountain bike stage races, with good open sections to open up the legs on. We had a small group up over the pass, and then into the amazing Gold Dust trail. That trail needs to be ridden to be believed.
The mix of riders and their strengths at the Breck Epic is quite stunning. The single speeders have reset my ideas of what is possible with one gear. Top marathon talent is still ruling, but some stages have suited the ‘Enduro’ style riders. Today, I was battling with a few Poc helmet wearing riders.
With a figure of eight loop, our dirt road climb back up the Boreas Pass was brutal. Not from the length, or pitch, but a headwind that was right on the nose. A group of five never really meshed, with one guy out front, one guy tea bagging, another getting dropped, and two of us doing turns to help each other out. Gratefully, we knew it was a long descent from the top of the pass to the finish.
I’m not a great descender. I’m not even a good descender. I just get by. But I was fairly determined not to lose out on this descent, and did what I could to get a gap and then increase it. The descent had road, loose double track, tight singletrack, some pinch climbs and loamy forest trails. Our group came together, split, and just plain went full gas all the way to the bottom. The Breck Epic really delivered the goods this week, and didn’t disappoint on the last day.
In the end, Ben Sonntag took the overall win, with a two minute gap to Ben Swanepoel. Having recently moved from Germany to Durango, Colorado, he is relishing the quality of trails to ride and race on. Amanda Carey took the women’s win over Yolandi Du Toit, and Macky Franklin won the Single Speed Stage Race World Championships (unsanctioned) over Brady Kappius and Dax Massey. All these categories, and many of the others, were super tight all week. Nothing was really certain from the start.
The Breck Epic truly delivered a great six days (or 3, if you did the Epic-Curious 3 day event) of mountain bike racing. This area should be regarded as a mountain bike mecca, with the variety of trails, good coffee and food choices, and how well the community embraces mountain bikers. Dates for the 2013 Breck Epic are set, it’s all kicking off from 11th August 2013 – get yourself in online now!
We will have some tech articles up from the Breck Epic next week, so check back to see what the leading riders were racing on.