12050 feet (3672 m) is an inhospitable place. Breck Epic riders found out first hand on today’s 3rd stage of the 2018 Epic. Riders circumnavigated Mt Guyot via trail and primitive road; crossing the North American Continental Divide twice. The first climb up to the Divide took riders through Big French Pass at 12050 feet. The Pass begins as a dirt road bed which gradually narrows and becomes more primitive transitioning from road to creek bottom, to double track, to single track, before devolving completely into half gauge goat path which the vast majority of riders are forced to dismount and walk as they summit Big French. Greeted by an angel bearing bags of skittles candies riders then plummet more than a 1500 feet off the Divide via singletrack as sweet as the candy still on their lips.
Climbing back up once more to the Divide and the Colorado Trail racers once again top out just under 12000 feet. Their journeys are far from over as riders begin the descent down the Colorado trail. This section of the CT is a Jeykll and Hyde type trail. The top half is smooth and friendly, allowing hikers to build incredible “big ring” speed before pitching them into choppy rocks and roots for nearly a thousand vertical feet. East Coast style singletrack awaited riders at the bottom of the Colorado Trail; threatening lat tires, bent wheels, and damaged derailleurs.
From the bottom of the Colorado Trail riders then head back toward Breckenride; climbing up to the Flume trail, a shale covered side hill trail which threatens riders balance as much as it threatens their tires. For over 6 miles riders traverse Flume trail eventually climbing up to the top of the Side Door singletrack and descending towards the finish line.
Stage 3 features around 42 miles and 8100ft of climbing.
In the Men’s race it was again the Jeremiah Bishop show. The Canyon-Topeak factory rider showed off his handling skills and his altitude adapted lungs as he blasted away from the front of the pack on the climb up Big French Gap. Behind Bishop CZ Racing’s Nash Dory was in hot pursuit. The Arizona native was rolling hot and heavy nearly bridging up to the Veteran racer by the time the ascent off the Flume trail brought steep climbing and stellar views. No time to soak in the sun however as Pivot/ DNA rider Jamey Driscoll was not much in arrears. However the ever wily Bishop would ensure he gained a few minutes on Dory before the finish line; leveraging his 120 mm of suspension Fox 34 Step Cast factory fork to drop all the hammers he could in losing Dory. Jeremiah Bishop would finish with the win with Jamey Driscoll sneaking in on the final climb to overtake Trudeau. Jeremiah Bishop finished Stage 3 in 3:23.
In the women’s field the absence of Amy Biesel Joe’s Bike Shop’s Carla Williams had to hold her line and cross the finish line safely to don the brilliant white fleece of the Race Leader. William’s competition however tasted the blood in the water. Boulder Cycle Sport’s Katrina Englestead brought more competition than Williams knew as the two finished less than 10 minutes apart. Following Englestead Bingham Cyclery’s Meghan Sheridan was only a little over 10 minutes back.
6 day racers made it over the hump of their week while 3 day mini-epic riders would complete their tour of the Breckenridge highcountry.