Saturday, July 23, 2011

Breck 100 Race Recap (10th in 30-39 Age Category, 41st Overall)

Where do I even start with this race?! It's been on my mind ever since the 2010 Breck 100 race that hooked me on endurance racing. My goal since twelve months ago was to top ten in my age category and also to finish sub 10:30. I reached one of those goals this year by grabbing the tenth spot of 67 riders in the 30-39 category but missed the latter goal by nearly 17 minutes. Despite missing the goal of crossing the finish line by 4:30pm, I am very content with my race effort and should be. I had endless mechanicals and lovely episodes of chain suck. Also, I didn’t find my race legs until loop three’s Boreas Pass climb just before the aid station, eight hours into the race. That said, I'm saying it now, sub 9:45 for next year's race. That's unless Brett and I take a journey to Oregon to race High Cascades 100. Damn that race looks like fun!

Wednesday, I headed up to Tiger Road, my home away from home for July, for some elevation camping. Friday, I met up with friends at our house for the weekend, courtesy of Kim (thank you!!!). Saturday, raceday morning, called for a 3:45am wake up call which I managed to beat by forty five minutes since I spent the time visualizing the trails in my head. I was wide awake, Bon Iver in my headphones, and making breakfast before 4am.

Singletrack covered with snow on Wheeler Pass.
At 6am, lap one began at Carter Park and sent us to Peak 9, a 2750 ft. climb up Wheeler Pass. Due to Breck's record snowfall this year, upon the first climb we encountered a few sections of snow atop of Wheeler Pass which got us hike-a-biking for a hundred yards at a time, including having to shoulder the bike to scale super steep pitches on sketchy soil. The amount of runoff also created some hairy singletrack downhilling on the back side. After the long descent, I found a few super solid riders for a roadie experience like a team time trial to the first feed station. One of those riders was Jari Kirkland who is such a badass rider! I hung onto her wheel and some Honey Stinger wheels until we reached Carter Park for the lap through.

I was a hot mess last year on loop two so for this time around I seeked redemption. Not so much! Again, I had a lackluster performance on this loop, my legs felt like bricks and the power in my legs to punch up climbs just wasn’t there. There were only a few answers to this, one being that I should have rested much more than I had leading up to the race – not exactly my strong suit and I still haven’t learned my lesson leading up to tomorrow's race, The Steamboat Stinger. The other answer was to keep challenging my legs to come around and to keep my head on straight enough.

Again, when I pitted the second time prior to loop three, Amy, Denise, and Brandon Newcomer were right there for me to care for my bike and nutrition. I’ve never had a pit crew before so having them made a massive difference. You guys rocked! I can’t remember how many times I repeated “these are not my legs” at the pit but I took Brandon's advice to go find them out on Loop three. I eventually did and kept thinking, better late than never! It then became apparent different race for me since I could rip through my favorite section of the course, Gold Dust Trail. If the Colorado Trail on loop two is my nemesis, then the Gold Dust Trail is my accomplice. I always seem to be synchronized with this trail and if you haven’t ridden it, it’s probably in my top ten for favorite trail sections. Ever. After exiting the trail into Como, I finally had a last and final chance to attack a climb, Boreas Pass Road. It’s an 8 mile dirt road climb to Boreas Pass's height of 11,482 feet where I very deliberately found some company for another roadie group ride to save some energy and seek some shelter from the wind. Originally there were four riders, then three, then after I attempted to bridge us with a strong Honey Stinger rider pulling away, I accidentally dropped another rider. From then on, it was a good pace to crest not only Boreas Pass but the entire race since the remaining trail was ten miles of fast and technical descents home to Carter Park. What was so interesting about this section is that my breathing rate was as if I had been climbing not descending. I was breathing heavily out of fear not of aerobic demands. It took quite some time to recognize this until I realized I could relax since no racers were on my heels.

There was peace right there. Not only to know that I had done what I set out to do this very day, but for all the discussions and demands one has with oneself every single day for twelve months to realize this accomplishment. Although I could consider this the end of a chapter, it is only the beginning. I'm training for something much bigger than a hundred mile race. Maybe it's for this fall's bigger 24 hour solo racing demands like the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs Nat'l Championships, but I'm hella sure that's it's for the biggest thing of all, life. You'd be surprised at how much you can learn about yourself and life just by riding a bike. I know I have been and look forward to the trail just ahead.

I ended up finishing the Breck 100 in 10:46:45 for 10th place in the 30-39 Age Category, 41st Overall. Believe it or not, more racers DNF'd (37) in my age category than finished it (32). Official results here.

I have to especially thank my coworkers at Third Way Center for making this season a success thus far. They allowed me to go to per diem status so that my weekends are free to race. They're the most supportive team I've ever been a part of. I miss you guys!

Ben, Scott, Jesse, and me getting our grub on. Mark and Brett are probably getting seconds!
Content the race is over.
What tiny photograph did I have on my handlebar to keep me motivated? Damn right, that's my brother guarding Kobe Bryant just a few days earlier. If that's not inspiring enough for me, I don't know what is.

Breathing thin air and waiting days before to race.

The best part of many days in July.

See you out there,

"Every damn day."