Here’s a blurry pic of the podium for men’s duo open today. We will analyze this in more detail in a bit. But first a quick congrats to the Leadville riders who threw down yesterday. Drew redeemed last year’s effort with an 8.30. Stuart solidified his Leadman contention with a 9.07. Jenn rocked a 10:40, and El Diablo went out for a 100 mile pleasure ride to save up for the run next week. He still came in just over 11 hours.
Today was the first stage of the Breck Epic, Pennsylvania Gulch. For those who know the Firecracker course, today’s stage covers much of that course. Ken, Chris, Dan and I joined a full field on the starting line. Dan and I missed our call up for the men’s duo open, so we all just stayed together in the back. The back is where I like to start. When you start in the rear, you don’t have to worry about getting passed, as much.
As per his m.o., Ken led us out and nearly blew up the whole group going up Boreas. I was above threshold for most of the road climb. Instead of continuing up to Baker’s Tank, we dropped down into singletrack about mid way up. We were able to recover some a this point, and we rode together for a while. Once the trail started heading back up is when our group fell apart. Ken stopped to fix his screwy saddlebag, and Chris’s heart rate monitor read 206, so he eased off the throttle a bit. Dan and I continued on, not knowing who the other open duo teams were. We figured we just had to ride hard no matter what.
Some of the course was virtually unrecognizable compared to the last time i saw it a month ago. Any one familiar with Little French Gulch would have thought it a different trail altogether. A biblical storm a few weeks ago devastated the already sketchy, and notoriously difficult, trail. All the dirt had washed away, and only large swaths of giant scree and babyheads remain. Only a handful of folks ride Little French Gulch. But I don’t think anyone rode it today. It was hard enough to even hike it.
Another area that was clearly affected was the descent to Tiger Run. I took a bad line and nearly went, as Dan would say, Ass over applebucket. It would have been an ugly crash too. Boulders and babyheads everywhere. But I got lucky and got out of there shaken, but unscathed.
Overall, I felt surprisingly good today. I didn’t know what to expect since I haven’t ridden hard since the Breck 68 a month ago. Dan’s ability to not train a lick, and still ride fast astounds me. He also rides a 30 pound, cast iron, turn-of-the-century bike. And he still rides fast. We rode a pretty good race. Each taking some turns at the front. Ken had managed to claw his way back to us on Little French, but then a sharp rock put a 3 inch gash in his tire. A couple tire boots, tubes and a pair of pliers later he was able limp to aid #2, where the organic mechanic scored him a new tire. But he probably lost at least 45 minutes dealing with the tire. Chris stopped with Ken and helped him get fixed up enough to get to the aid station. Needless to say, he also lost huge time dealing with the tire. It’s a long race though, and Ken and Chris will only get stronger.
So back to the fuzzy podium spot. The good news is that we finished second and made the podium. The bad news is that we finished last, and made the podium. Somehow, only two teams signed up for the open duo. The only thing more embarrassing than standing on a podium in last place is the ridiculous outfit I’m wearing. Who let me out of the house like that?
One of the guys on the other team is a National cyclocross champion. The good news is that we were only 12 minutes behind them today. The bad news is that they rode Leadville yesterday in 7.02. So this was their recovery day. Dan suggested that we have someone bring up Slim (the Alchemist Mannequin) to stand on the third place spot, so we wouldn’t have to stand on the podium in last place.
Check out the sweet photos from Drew: