Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

5th Place singlespeed in the Breckenridge 100

Just finished 5th place in the singlespeed category at the Breckenridge 100 (Breck 100) in Colorado.  100 miles and 13,000 feet of elevation gain.  It was my first time doing this race and it was a great course.  Lots of epic singletrack with some hike-a-bike through snowfields above timberline.  Numerous people I talked to said this race was significantly tougher than the Leadville 100.  Mostly because it was actually primarily on singletrack trails and not dirt roads.  I ran a 32x20 on my 29r with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires and felt it worked well.  I might have run a 19 if I hadn't been training so hard for the Colorado Trail Race right up to this race.

The course consisted of three loops that each started and returned at the race venue in Carter Park.  Things started out poorly for me on the first climb.  I tried to hang with the leaders but soon seemed to be getting passed by everyone while I was trying to keep my breakfast from coming back up.  All these years of racing and I still haven’t figured out what works well for breakfast.  I didn't feel very good at all and my legs felt heavy.  I was in about 13th place in the singlespeed category at the top of the first climb.  Once we got above timberline I started to feel better and passed some people back in the hike-a-bike section and crossing the snowfields.  The decent was technical and cold but I continued passing people, mostly geared riders.  I rode with Matt Turgeon most of lap.  At Copper Mountain we hit a section of paved bike path and all the geared riders I just passed flew back by me.  The next section was awesome singletrack and my gearing was perfect for it.  I showed up back in Breckenridge, pitted, and started the 2nd loop in 11th place.

I was feeling much stronger and started passing more people on the second loop.  I went by Steve Reiter who was fixing a flat, tough luck!  The second loop is considered the toughest out of the three.  The Climb up Little French Flume was tough; the Colorado Trail section was epic and super fun.  Then you drop down to the golf course and it feels like your close to the venue but just to "kick you in the teeth while your down" the route sends you climbing again on a combination of singletrack and dirt roads.  By the end of that lap I had moved up to 7th place and was feeling great.  In the pit Dani lubed my chain and I loaded my rain jacket on the bike and stocked up on more food and bottles.

The rain started coming down on the climb up Boreas Pass but the way the clouds were moving it seemed like it would pass so I didn't put on the rain jacket.  I continued to pass geared riders up the hill and felt great but didn't see any other singlespeeders.  After cresting the saddle on Boreas pass I started the decent on sweet singletrack toward Como.  I hadn't seen another rider since before the pass.  Finally, just before Como I passed a couple more geared riders and another singlespeeder.  I had to stop and pit in Como to get some water bottles and the singlespeeder passed me back up.  The huge audience of race fans in the thriving metropolis of Como consisted of my Mom and Dad who live right by there and the people at the aid station.  Leaving Como there was a nasty headwind and even though the other singlespeeder was jumping on the tail of the geared riders I finally caught up and passed him.  Then he jumped on my tail and was drafting me for several miles.  Kind of irritating!  I ended up dropping him and then passed more racers and another singlespeeder up the hill.  After cresting the top of Boreas Pass again I didn't see anyone else all the way down back to the finish where I crossed the line in 5th place.  Fun race!

Mark Thompson (The Judge) hammered out the singlespeed win again this year but had much closer competition than in the past.  Michael Scott finished second and there was a battle between Jeffrey Carter and Michael Melley all the way to the finish.  Great race guys!