July 27, 2012

Race Report - 2012 Breckenridge 100

Race: Breckenridge 100
Location: Breckenridge, CO
Date: July 15, 2012
Rider:  Jeff Dickey (24th Open)

During the week ending July 15, I took my annual trek to Colorado to race in the high mountains.

For the first few days, I stayed in Colorado Springs with my friend from DC, Thori Wolfe, of Juggernaut ESF fame.  With the horrible fires that had threatened the city then extinguished, we rode some awesome local singletrack, including a super fun downhill (Captain Jack's to the Chutes).  A good way to start sucking wind at altitude: with a smile on your face.

Thori, unfortunately, took a bad spill while riding some local trails and likely bruised or broke some ribs and damaged the cartilage between his ribs.  Not good, especially as we low-landers needed to breathe more just to keep moving at altitude.

I then headed up to Golden to meet with our great team sponsor, Feedback Sports. They make the best repair stands and have been instrumental in keeping the 10 bikes in my house organized with the RAKK system. If you have a lot of bikes (or even just one) and want to keep them standing upright or are looking to display them in your house or bike shop, you need to get these modular racks.

I had a good chat with Jeff Nitta, checked out the company owner's 2011 Scale RC (an awesome bike - we've got to get him on a 29er or a 27.5...) and then headed out to chase Tim Allen around Red Rocks.  Tim is a fantastically smooth rider on technical terrain.  I've never ridden with someone so good.  Thankfully he was taking it easy on me (he had enough time to clean loose rocks out of the trail by flicking them off with his front and rear wheels as he passed) and we got in a solid hour of rocky singletrack.

After the first hour, I went across the street to see my friends at Spot Brand Bicycles, had a good talk with SP and Jimmy, and headed out to Apex Park for another hour ride.  Good fun!

Afterwards, I drove west to Carbondale, CO to stay with my sister for a few days.  I got in some great riding at Snowmass and on the town trails in Prince Creek.

Heading up Prince Creek (Mt. Sopris in the distance)
Prince Creek trails
Riding back toward Carbondale with my sister

After a few days at altitude, I was not sucking wind as badly and felt generally ready for the Breck 100 on Sunday.  The race starts at around 10,000 feet and goes up from there (the first climb heads from the start line up 4-5 miles and over a 12,300 foot pass).  My goal was to better my time from last year and see if I could do OK at altitude.

The race is set up as a cloverleaf, with three ~35 mile loops, each having distinct sections.  Loop one was a major climb over the ski area and a return on a paved bike path and singletrack, loop 2 had tons of singletrack, and loop 3 was lots of fireroad climbing and singletrack descending.

After the 6am and 45degree temp start (it had been over 100degrees the past few days in DC), on the first climb, I knocked nearly 10 minutes off last year's time (some of that might have been due to the lack of snow at the summit, but I'll just say I was riding better) and crested the top in the top 20.  I stopped at the first aid station and rolled the remaining 15 miles of singletrack back to the start/finish to begin loop 2.  I was in about 20th place and feeling good.

The altitude caught up with me about an hour into loop 2 and, just as last year, I got very dizzy and uncoordinated.  Riding up French Gulch on rocks became impossible and I had to hike.  I slowly made it down the singletrack descent to the aid station where Thori's family was volunteering.  They were surprised to see me stop.

I had a very slow climb up the Colorado Trail to West Ridge and an even slower descent (crashing on the way down - I just wasn't very coordinated).  I stopped at the next aid station for a few minutes to collect myself and chugged along over Gold Hill and to the start/finish.

The last lap was tough. Heading up the long climb to Boreas Pass, it started to thunder and rain.  I couldn't see much of anything on the singletrack descent through the flume trail, but eventually made it in one piece to Como at the other side of Boreas Pass to start the climb back over the pass to Breckenridge.  Last year, I cracked spectacularly on Boreas Pass and was determined not to have that happen again.  I stopped at the aid station in Como, filled up on Coke and nuun and headed out for the final 12 mile climb.  Last year, I was unable to push even the granny gear; this year, I was able to muscle over the big ring the whole way.  Small things...

I dragged myself down the last bits of singletrack descent and finished in 10:53, second to last in the pro field, but a full 40 minutes faster than in 2011.  (I was disappointed to learn that the winner was currently serving a two year suspension from WADA for doping.)  A long day, but great trails, scenery, volunteers and weather.  I suck at racing at altitude, but I'd still go back for more next year.

Results are available here.


Happy to be done (and alive)

- Jeff

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