Gold sent settlers into the Rocky Mountain’s “Ten Mile Range” in the 1850s, and Gold brings Americas most talented and stoked stage racers to the steeps of Breckenridge Colorado for the 10th Breck Epic stage race. The singletrack heavy 6 day race sends riders from the valley floor (9500 ft, 2900m) into the thin rocky mountain air to well over 12,000 ft (3600m) on an almost daily basis. Colorado singletrack, known for its kitty litter loose dirt and at times intensely steep descending from high bald mountains back beneath the tree line is the boxing ring for the “luchador” fighters who step into the competition this year in “Brexico.”
The Breck Epic has quickly gained a cult footing among mountain bike racers and riders worldwide as one of the most true and honest events a rider can do. Its elegant in its brutality at times and simple in the way the race is run. Director Mike McCormack describes the race as about bringing mountain bike racing back to the basics: “when mountain biking was a about big rides with friends. About lending a hand when a rider went down. About a shared experience that somehow, flying in the face of all logic, disproportionately enriched all involved.” This feeling that everyone comes away a better person and certainly a better rider is at the core of what the Breck Epic stands for. All that with a serious slice of attitude and more than a little altitude.
3 Rules famously govern the Breck Epic. Pulled straight from the rule book (sheet?).
– 1. Don’t be a dick. (This really covers a lot of ground.)
– 1. (subsection 1): are you now serving or have you ever served a USADA or WADA suspension? Yes? You’re out.
– 2. Wear your helmet.
– 3. Don’t litter in the beautiful backcountry. Seriously.
These three rules easily manage every scenario McCormack and his staff feel like they need to in order to administer an effective and fair race.
The 2018 course covers roughly the same terrain as previous editions including all of the favorites and high points from years past including Wheeler pass and the Colorado Trail. 220-240 miles long with roughly 40,000′ feet of vertical gain and blissful elevation loss. The course prioritizes singletrack and high alpine shred.
For 2018 the event’s dates were adjusted by permitting requirements and narrowly conflicted with the Leadville 100. Despite the conflict many of the US and Canada’s strongest talent are toeing the line.
In the Men’s race 2017 winner and 2018 XC national champion Howard Grotts (Specialized) returns to stake his claim on the rockys. American hero and Appalachian adventurer Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak-Ergon) is also returning before adding his hat into supporting his team at the Leadville epic merely 12 hours after the completion of the 6 day stage race. Without a team to support Bishop will surely be on the hunt in the 6 day race. These two are joined by regional heroes Nash Dory (CZ Racing), Jamey Driscoll (Pivot/DNA), Spencer Powlison, Kyle Trudeau (CZ Racing), and wild man Evan Plews (Ridge Sports).
Women’s racing is alive and well in the rockies as US Marathon racing champion Amy Biesel (Orange Seal) takes on all comers. National Ultra Endurance Series champion Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop) and Pivot Cycles Timari Prius Allen toe the line with crosshairs on Biesel. Libby Sheldon, Meghan Sheridan, and others eagerly anticipate any open spots on the podium as they tackle the Epic.
6 Day Duo racers are also sure to see some racing action. 3x Pisgah Stage Race winning Duo Elliot Baring (Pivot-Northstar) and Gordon Wadsworth (Pivot Cycles, Blue Ridge Cyclery) bring their unique style and speed out of the Appalachians and into the high alpine world. Facing tough competition from regional riders as well as duos from abroad the team surely wont be in for an easy week. Mixed or Female riders are graced with the presence of Golden CO Local Rebecca Gross
3 Day epic riders will surely mix and mash in every stage. With half the volume in front of them and all of the stoke the 3 day could provide some extreme excitement.
Its sure to be an exciting week with unknown riders yet to emerge. One thing is certain; the Breck Epic wont leave any riders un-pumped. And if they do are, then they can just stay on top of Wheeler pass.