(This post is about a freakin' week in the making, final Breck Epic post to follow)
I intended to post following the Wheeler Pass stage with a wrap of days four and five of the Breck Epic. During that stage things went really badly on a couple fronts and I came very close to pulling the plug on the whole damn thing. Not much interest in writing about it then either. I've been dealing with the aftermath of the race since and only finally starting to get a handle on the injuries in the last two days. Heres the first post, started last Friday (7/10).
Wednesday was one of the hardest things I've done on a bike. None of the stages here are very long - 30-40 miles basically every day but the prologue - but what they lack in distance they more than make up for in vert. In the first 20 miles we did about 5000 feet of climbing (for comparison races like the Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100 contain about 10-12,000 feet of vert in 100 miles). Of those first 20 miles there were also 5-6ish miles of descending. So, 5000 feet of climbing in 15 miles. Up and over the continental divide. Then we went up and over again. Yes there was some hiking involved but it was a lot of just steep ups on the bike. My back and hip were pretty wrecked early on from the steep stuff and I ended up off the bike a lot trying to stretch out and keep moving. I screwed up on a refueling stop too and that was biting me in the ass for a bit.
When we finally got up and over the second big climb we rolled into an absolutely killer descent of a section of the CO trail. This particular bit starts out swooping and fast and then turns into something a lot like the descents at Lehigh U in Bethlehem in an instant. It was pretty cool to see such a sudden difference in the trail and it was very cool to be able to stomp the crap out of some people that went into that descent 5+ minutes ahead of me while I was standing along the trail stretching one more f'ing time.
After this killer descent I had a little bit of motivation and was able to fight through the hip/leg (mostly by trying to ignore it) and pushed pretty hard to the end catching back basically everyone I'd been with during the first hour. I felt like I was almost actually racing for the first time this week. Unfortunately it was not to last.
Thursday was harder. I was expecting something easier, instead ended up being the worst day of the week and the hardest terrain and the biggest disappointment. The first hour, much like on Wed, went pretty well and maybe even a bit better than the day before as I was much further up in the field and riding decently. Then the hip struck again. Off the bike I went and just stood there for a while, somewhat numb. Really frustrating that I couldn't get in one damn day without pain. My warm up even included downing a bottle of my favorite pain killer. Didn't help.
It took more than an hour to do the next 6 or so miles to Aid 1 from that spot. Every time the trail went the least bit up hill I was off the bike walking due to the hip pain - and almost none of this section was steep. Sucking more was the fact that this bit was rocky and when I was on the bike I was riding it well - and way better than most of the west coasters that were around me. By the time I pulled in to aid 1 - two plus hours into the race and out of liquid (since I didn't expect it to take 2+ hrs to go 13 miles) I was ready to throw in the towel. I stumbled around the checkpoint feeling a bit sorry for myself and going back and forth between "This isn't worth it, I'm in pain and its not going to stop" to "Quit being an f'ing pussy and keep going so you get that damn buckle."
I was soooo close to stopping. So close. Luckily for me along came my new friend Peter from Misfit Psycles on his trusty rigid single speed and kept me in the game. He convinced me to keep going and for the next hour and a half he and I basically hiked with our bikes to the top of Wheeler Pass above Breck. I'm pretty thankful he showed when he did though the hike to the top was unreal - nothing like getting spasms in your back from pushing your bike up a hill. By the time we topped out on Wheeler at hour 3.5 into the stage I figured that the front boys were probably getting close to finishing their day (damn you Jeremiah!!!!!!!!).
Since I couldn't ride I was taking a bunch of photos and as I'm cresting Wheeler taking shots I realized I've 5 bars and figure what the hell, I'm moving pretty slow, I'll call the wife. After a little "Hey, I'm going really slow and it'll be another 2 and a half til I'm back, you might as well go back to the condo."
"Okay, be careful, don't crash."
"I will, love you."
I'm off again and Peter and I take some pics next to the summit sign. After this he says to me that that rigid fork of his I'm might as well roll, "be safe." So I do. And into one of the sweetest descents of the week I go.
I'm rolling along and finally starting to find something to enjoy about the day, stopping a couple times for more photos to show off the exposure and in general feeling much better about things than I did getting to the top of that pass.
Wanna take a guess what happens? I'll save the suspense. I eat shit. Rolled into something that wasn't even that bad but missed the line a little, corrected, thought I had it, and then launched through the air landing f'ing hard on my low back. On a rock. Freakin' awesome. As if the day hadn't been swell enough I'm now lying on the damn trail cursing and swearing and generally pissed off.
And I knew it happened when I hit, but I didn't want to look. Pulled the bag out of my pocket and there is my iphone...smashed to bits. The phone took the whole impact. Its toast. Can't get a damn thing off it. Lost all those photos. No proof I actually rode up there. Just my word. You'll have to take it.
I'm pretty sure the phone saved my ass from a broken rib or worse - more than a week later and I can still barely touch the area - so at least the phone was sacrificed for my well being. I'm not happy about it, but at least I can walk. As an aside, I thought, "well at least I can get the new iphone." F' that. $500 without the contract. Not even that bit worked out.
I got through the rest of the stage just plain annoyed. I wasn't even happy about finishing the day. I didn't get a sense of satisfaction from completing something this hard and I wasn't even glad it was over. It just was. Not being able to race or even ride for much of the week and then destroying my phone and injuring myself further had me in a pretty bad place.
One good thing about stage racing is that you get to (or have to) get on the bike the next day and that is at least a chance to be less shitty. And even a little less shitty can be a good thing after days like today.
Gotta take a sec to again thank Pete and to apologize for leaving him hi and dry on pedaling his ass off on SS on the bike path from Frisco to Breck. I didn't tell him, when he told me we were no longer friends since I left him behind, but he probably wouldn't have wanted to ride with me then anyway. I mean who wants to ride with some douchebag swearing and cursing and generally pissy for a minute, let alone an hour and a half? Not me. Unfortuneately I was stuck with him for the rest of the day and wanted to save Peter from the same fate.
And, if you call or text send include your name since I gots nothing in the phone.
It gets a little better before getting worse.