Finally!! We arrived at our pre-LT100 training location: Breckenridge, Colorado. Quinn, Margarita, Ironman Danish, and I were all happy to finally have no use for a car for the next 10 days. I found us this AMAZING ski-in ski-out condo in town that in the summer transforms into ride-in ride-out.
Not 24hrs into being at this amazing condo was I reassured that great minds think alike when I contacted a teammate who I knew was also in Colorado for the summer only to find out that she was not only in Breckenridge, but was in the SAME building we were. So now we had friends in the building, the Olympics on TV, and some of the most amazing trails right outside our door–how could this get better?
Well, it did the day we first rode these trails. The town and trails were amazing. Granted, I had been here before and skied some of the same trails I was now riding, but I had never stopped and thought what it would look like without snow everywhere.
Turns out, underneath all that fluffy white stuff is beautiful green stuff, flowers, and intensly technical mountain bike trials. The only real downside to riding out in Breck is that there is no downside–as in, uphill is your only real option for a ride-giving all new meaning to an easy spin (they arent as easy when your only choice is going up hill).
Anyway, we decided that our ride plan for the days leading up to the Leadville Trail 100 would not be to go crazy pre-riding sections of the course, but it would be best spent soaking in the Colorado mountain bike experience and ride sections of the Brek Epic race course. Here is a description of the Brek Epic as described by the organizers:
Attention Weekend Warriors.
if you’re the type of guy who likes to give yourself one extreme challenge once a year…well, this is probably not the event for you. The courses will be long. They will be difficult. 90% of the terrain will be above 10,000 feet. Cut-off times will be strictly enforced. You could end up seriously hurt, having to sell what’s left of your bike and pay off your hospital bills by inspecting socks and underwear with your one good arm. At night.
If it rains you might end up dead. Seriously. Rain here is no joke. Especially the lightning-y parts. Sizzle! Getting fried will take your mind off the discomfort and uncontrollable shivering that come with a nice dose of hypothermia though. See? The glass is half full!
Back to weekend warriors – you guys can’t come. Then again, the architect of this event is a drooling fat-ass whose pinnacle of athletic acheivement was reaching the exalted ranks of the middle of the pack of the Expert field. And he (OK, “I”) could make the time cut-offs if I had to, and I’d put myself optimistically in the middle of the Sport class right now.
Bottom line? If you’re a lunchbucket Sport-class rider you CAN do this. And it’ll be awesome. If you’re prone to complaint you may want to bite off something a little more pedestrian. There’s a zany Herb Tarlek-looking dude with a nice little race about 10 miles west (as the crow flies)…
So, as you can see, the Breck Epic wards off weekend warriors with more than a stick, and in fact, claims that the place for them in the LT100. Interesting. So, what better way to practice for the LT100 than to ride a course that claims to be substantially harder?
Lucky for us, the race also promotes seeing what the course is like and publishes Strava segments for the race stages on their website. We decided to for the first time test the navigational powers of my Garmin Edge 705 and uploaded these segments so we didn’t get helplessly lost in the Rockies and end up bear food (luckily, I still have my bear whistle but not sure it works on coyotes or mountain lions….hmmm…dont want to test this either….actually, I am not even sure it works on bears).
Our first ride was one of the stages that takes you up Little French Gulch. All I have to say is that if this is “little” French, I would hate to meet “big” French. This trail was NO JOKE and pictures would never do it justice. Suffice to say that even the pros walk bits of this one. In my head this is also what I had imagined Columbine and/or St Kevins to look like (good thing Columbine looks like beginner trail compared to this).
Our second ride was the stage that takes you up over Wheeler Pass.
If you ride the whole Wheeler Pass loop you can actually go up the mountain range in Breck and descend down Copper Mountain.
We choose to bail out early as it was appoximately 35 degrees and windy at the ol’ mountain top (snow up there too!).
We continued to ride different stages of this EPIC race in preparation and all I could think of was how hard that Breck Epic race is and how if I did the race, I would imagine that over the six days and 200 miles of racing I would most likely get in about 32 HOURS of riding/racing at altitude. YIKES!!!! And, that 32 is being optimistic.
The hardest part about riding all these stages was that Ironman Danish was training straight through the races for, well, the Ironman. This year he was selected as the US Coast Guard Ironman team member. Pretty cool, right? It’s cool, unless you are Duffy Danish (me) and forced to ride with the ol’ Ironman Danish when he has to do intervals. We realized that we would have to develop plans that would enable him to get in his workouts and not kill me.
Luckily, we were able to pull this off no problem and we were even able to still both have energy left at the end of the day to have some family time with the pups!
We were actually bummed that we would have to leave Breck and head to Leadville. But on day 10, we packed up the pups, bikes, and our crap and headed up another thousand feet to the town of Leadville….