Breck Epic- Stages 2 and 3

Last year, for stage 2 (which included a large climb and descent section of Colorado Trail), we were treated to cold, all-day rain. I finished that day mildly hypothermic with the worst case of “ice flipper” hands I’ve ever had. (side note- I think that anyone who has done much riding in the high mountains will have a story that includes the coldest they’ve ever been on a bike being in the month of August). This year, we were treated to mostly gorgeous blue skies (one “normal”  5-minute shower rolled through the course area, but I managed to skirt it).

I was excited and slightly nervous to ride the big climb on the CT. The other two times I’ve done it (Breck 100 and 2012 Breck Epic), I’ve ended up hike-a-bike-ing a fair amount. However, this year, as I mentioned previously, better gearing and fitness meant for good times most of the way up (I took the hike option for several short, steep spots in the name of self-preservation). Even more fun? I had a working fork for the first time in a hot minute, so I was able to go a little faster on the awesome 6 miles of downhill on the other side. I’m still mostly slowed down by my brakes, of course, but the new fork makes a big difference in comfort and fun factor.

With all of its fun singletrack and good weather, stage 2 was another great day on the bike. However, the weather report for stage 3 was looking a bit more ominous. With a 40% chance of rain later in the morning, and two trips over the Continental Divide (French Pass and Georgia Pass), I packed a rain jacket and a hand-saving pair of water resistant fishing gloves (pics and more about those when I’ve got more time). Both of which came in handy during the very difficult day. The best part of the day was the Colorado Trail descent off of Georgia Pass (it goes from flowy and open to rocky and steep within a half mile). I found myself nearly sitting on my rear wheel on several occasions. The 2nd best part of the day was finishing, because I was starting to feel pretty rough with fatigue yesterday.

I finished in just under 5 hours, knowing I’d won the day, but assuming I hadn’t won by nearly as much, given my slower pace. However, I found out at the podium meeting later in the day that Susan, my lone competition, had wrecked on one of the early descents, and had a rougher day than I, losing about an hour and a half. I’ve now got a 3 hour, 26 minute lead for the overall 1st place.

That’s pretty awesome, but I’m not without my own issues. I am pretty sure I have shingles. I’ve got a spot on my back (between my shoulder blades) that started aching a lot last week. I thought it was a knot in my muscle, but then a couple of days ago, a rash popped up. Then, yesterday, a spot in front of my arm pit started to ache- a pain that shot through my ribcage like a knife. This morning, another small rash spot over the pain. I asked the internet for advice, and turns out, it’s probably this: WebMD Shingles. I’ve decided other than some ibuprophen and topical corticosteroid, I’m not going to a doctor until I get home. The antivirals and oral corticosteroids that can be prescribed have some sucky side effects that would not add to my stage race enjoyment. 

Gotta go… time for stage #4!

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