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Breck Epic Stage 5 - Breckenridge, CO

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |August 15, 2014 4:09 AM
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Breck Epic - Stage 5
Breckenridge, Colorado

Written by: Marlee Dixon

Alex Grant Continues Domination While Race Leader Kate Aardal Wins Her First Stage

Iíll start my report today by saying that after yesterdayís tough stage I think I might have underestimated stage 5.  After yesterday, I thought it would be hard but definitely didnít think it was going to be nearly as hard as today was.  Stage 5 is the Wheeler Pass stage.  We had two large climbs today Ė the hardest is the climb up Wheeler Pass, which you can barely see if you look between peak 9 and 8 in Breckenridge.  Itís a long ways from town and not an easy route up.

This morning everyone lined up at Beaver Run and we were set off in waves because of the immediate turn onto single track. The pro women lined up together and it was a fast start.  We were all cranking to get to the singletrack first, once there it was a climb up the Burrow Trail up a few roads and then on Wheeler trail.  The climbing was hard and after 4 hard days, my body was feeling it. Once on Wheeler it soon became a hike-a-bike for about 45 minutes.  Itís a long ways and itís grueling. 

If you get a chance to look up though, youíll see some beautiful jagged mountain peaks.  Once on your bike again itís a technical, watery, rocky, slightly downhill section of trail over to the switch backs that lead up to Wheeler Pass.  Then itís some steep, exposed switch backs up to the top of Wheeler.  It was an amazing feeling to be up there and be greeted with whiskey shots, bacon, skittles and cheers.  The views are incredible, the food is delicious and once there you can feel good knowing that not many people make it up that far.  I heard around 150 people took shots of whiskey before descending into the loose, steep descent to Copper - nothing like being above 12,500í, out of breath, probably dehydrated and about to descend a gnarly descent and taking a shot of whiskey!    

They also went through 12 pounds of bacon feeding all of us hungry racers.  The descent down Wheeler is incredible, especially when you are trying to go as fast as possible.  Itís loose in areas, there are sharp curves, thereís lots of rocky areas and water.   Basically thereís a lot of room for error, but thatís probably what makes it so exhilarating.  Once down the Wheeler trail itís 6 miles of bike path to a long, and in areas. steep climb up to the Peaks trail.  The Peaks trail took us to the end and I was definitely glad to be done today.  At every racer meeting each evening we are reminded that this is the "Breck EPICĒ, not the "Breck pillow fightĒ and I have to agree, itís a mind-blowing Epic! 

For the Pro Men, Alex Grant (Sho-Air/Cannondale) took the win today in a crazy-fast time of 2:33:56, Joan Llordella (Buff Pro) came in 2nd with a time of 2:36:40 and Ben Sonntag (Stanís NoTubes) finished 3rd with a time of 2:40:01.   

For the pro women, Kate Aardal (Ridleyís) took the win today with a time of 3:20:22, Marlee Dixon (Epic Brewing/MTBRaceNews.com) took 2nd with a time of 3:23:35 and Kelly Boniface (Moots) took 3rd with a time of 3:25:14.  For the women, a bunch of us were leap-frogging each other until the bike path.  Once on the bike path we all managed to stay in the same order until the end.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Breck Epic 2014. Itís sure to be a fast, fun day with only 31 miles and 3500 feet of elevation gain.    Catch my race report tomorrow evening and get the final results!

 

 

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