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The Breckenridge 100

July 20, 2009

Tis not the man that makes the mountain. It is the mountain that makes the man.

019_19I cannot put into words my race experience Saturday July 18, 2009. Any cliche you’ve ever heard about mountain biking Breckenridge is a bit exaggerated–under-exaggerated that is. Put together a race that has 100 miles of Summit County riding, and you are bound for the most epic ride of your life, at least, if you live at sea level in a place that lacks the topography of Colorado. Base elevation 9600 ft. Climbs of 2800 ft., summits of 12,400 ft. Snow field crossings. 40 degree stream crossings. Tight singletrack switchbacks, long jeep road climbs that never seem to end, perilous 30 mph singletrack descents (some of them in Alpine Country above the tree line), screaming 45+ mph jeep road descents. Temperature swings from 40 degrees to about 73 or so. The joy of experiencing mother nature at her finest, the pain and suffering of each pedal stroke that brings you closer to the finish line, The beauty of it all.

You will hear it here first, from one of the most tried and trued Texans out there. Texas does not compare. Not even close. Colorado puts the “mountain” in mountain biking. Except for some mediocre mountains in West Texas, all we really have are some little ant hills here and there. I have won 12 and 24 hour races, and yes they were tough, but nothing I have ever attempted was as challenging as the Breckenridge 100. So much so, that I could not even complete this race. I don’t take great pride in DNF’s, and in fact, this is only the second Did Not Finish for a mountain bike race that I can recall. I stand before you a humbled man, but make no mistake-I have no shame or regret for not finishing this race. I did still complete 2 loops, 61 miles,and nearly 8,000 vertical feet of elevation gain in 7 hours and 35 minutes on some of the most challenging terrain in the United States.

When I first signed up for the race, I knew I was probably biting off a bit more than I could chew. But I felt my heart and mental toughness would compensate for my lack of training on 2000 ft climbs at 11,000 ft altitude. I set an over zealous goal of around 10:30. Just completing that 3rd loop would have been goal enough. My naivety has set me up for failure before, and although I wouldn’t say I failed this race, my high expectations landed me a pretty big slap on the face around mile 55, about the time I lost hope of going out on that third loop. No amount of mental toughness could have pushed my torn and dilapidated body another 36 miles and 4300 vertical feet through the Colorado wilderness that day. I had already pushed mind, body, spirit, and machine to the limit. Old knee problems were flaring up, lower back was seizing, leg muscles were beyond cramped, hands were cramping so bad I could barely grip the bars. Oddly enough, I was well hydrated and fueled. Mentally, I was prepared for the high elevation, and it didn’t seem to limit me as much as I thought it would. Coupled with the immense amount of climbing though, both factors beat me to a pulp.
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That’s mountain bike racing. Real mountain bike racing. Naive no more, I have learned my lesson. I know the price I must pay if I wish to finish next time, and a next time there will be. I’ve got unfinished business in Breckenridge.

Enjoy the photos. I took a disposable camera with me and snapped a few shots along the way. The quality is poor, my shooting skills poorer, and the camera’s field of view about 1000 times too small to convey the true feeling and enormity of this course, but they are a start. The photo titled “The Lodge” is the first non race picture of the set-I had to burn off some shots to get the roll developed. There’s also some shots in Colleen’s facebook album. Also, check out this fellow’s gallery. He wasn’t out racing when these were taken, so he had time and better equipment for better pictures. Til next time, Caveman.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 11, 2009 2:48 pm

    Greg,

    Great effort on a tough course. It’s all yours next year!

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