Written by Paul Simoes Monday, 24 August 2015 16:28
Well I guess I’ve been stage race curious now for a couple of years, but being a east coast guy I didn’t think that my first stage race would take place in Breckenridge CO. But sometimes it’s about timing; I was in CO for vacation and in the area, I had the time, I had the money, and maybe the legs to do this on a single speed. So, what can I say, this is one of those "You only live once" things.
The first two days, the field of riders was just super big with a big turnout for the 3 day event (which actually had some the fastest riders). Most of whom, were in the area for the Leadville 100 the following Saturday. This added some 50-70 riders. The first few days were a mass start with over 400 riders. We had 15 riders in the single speed class. So the first couple of days were a little tough, being on a single speed and not being able to get good starts. Being patient on the bike was the smart thing to do anyway due to it’s a whole 6 days of riding. No need to start pushing hard on the first two days. Still not a bad two days of riding some 35 to 40 something miles and both days under 4 hours. I finished 7th both days.
Day 3, and if you looked at this stage before hand this is the one that made you nervous. Just to get us started, up we go up to 11,000ft, then down, then back up to French’s Pass, a massive hike-a-bike up to 12,000 and back down, then up to George's Pass at 12,000ft again. Then some super super fun stuff!! The down hill on the CO trail off Georgia’s Pass is one of the best downhills in the area! Then you are climbing back up to 11,000 before finishing. Well, I made it through stage 3, the hardest one yet and had my best result yet 5th place. Day 4, a longer stage, again over 40 miles but mostly rideable which was nice for a change. It was not as hard as day 3 and I did fairly well again, finishing 5th. Both days being over 4 hour rides.
Day 5, only 25-26 miles and a time trial. Great, I could use an easier shorter day! Right! Well this is my first stage race and to this point I’ve been feeling fairly great, but not 10 minutes into this ride I’m starting to feel like hell and I’m only looking at a 3,000 ft climb, great. Ok 10 minutes into a ride and I’m already eating gels and I had a big breakfast. The gels helped a lot and I started feeling normal. I finished the dirt road climb to find the longest craziest hike-a-bike I’ve ever seen in my life. Well, time to eat some more gels and while you're at it, have some salt tabs, all within the first hour. Then some rideable trail that goes up to Wheeler Pass and a bacon handout! Then time for the Wheeler down hill. Well, you have to have some fun out here too and this downhill was some big fun. But wait, we’re not done yet. Then back up on to the CO trail, some more hike-a-bike, and we got to ride right along the ridge line of Breckenridge’s out of bounds ski line. And now the nuttiest downhill yet, this one was just long and crazy! It got me off my bike a couple of times but I did want to ride the next day and not get killed. Then slowly, I found my way to the finish of this stage. Well so much for an easy day. This was by far the toughest stage of the race. This was a crazy over the top adventure ride that beat you up like hell, but I loved it! Also, came out of this stage with my best result yet, 4th, and it moved me up into 5th in the overall by a 2:17.
Finally Day 6, and hoping to hold on to this 5th spot if I can. I knew it was going to be tough and to be honest I felt I was going to end up in 6th for the week. Dean Cahow has been a better climber all week and it was going to be tough to keep Dean within a couple of minutes, and if it wasn’t for stage 5, I wouldn’t even be in the picture. One more day of racing. This morning I starting eating gels even before we started. I felt a bit better on today’s start but still feeling the pain from 5 days of riding. Right from the start Dean rode out of sight which was just as well at this point. By now the only thing I could do was to ride at my own pace and hope it’s good enough. Well, stage 6 was finally a bit easier and fun to finish the week, only 2 1/2 hours. I rode my best and ended up finishing 6th for the day and only 2:08 behind Dean and held on to that 5th spot by 9 seconds after 6 days of racing over 240 miles, unbelievable! Super glad I did this race, just a great time and WOW!!, what a challenge!
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