Last summer I decided to visit one of the first destination that comes to mind to any mountain biker. Colorado!
For months I was planning this trip, including different project for more experience. I was looking for another destination to shoot an episode of my Mavic web series "The Quest". To be honest I was excited to get a solo trip and self-shoot it because meant more riding and more time on the trail.
My original plan was to ride the Colorado Trail and then, coming back to Breckenridge to race the Breck Epic. Eventually, I ended doing the half of the trail where I had to abort due to terrible weather... I can tell I was pushing hard to continue but at some point I had to make a decision. That's basically how I ended in Utah, riding the trails around Moab. Life is full of surprises and lessons. To not expect too much and be ready to adapt, because it's a chance and we only have one chance.
But this is another story that you can read about soon when we will finish the edition of the video. Today, I open my diary once again to share my experience during this incredible race. The Breck Epic.The Breck Epic
The Breck Epic is a hard cross country race, it's six days of racing around the town of Breckenridge. Taking place in an incredible surrounding, this is the heart of Colorado. So expect elevation, alpine atmosphere, creeks, deep pine trees forest and aspens. This place is epic, so is the race.
It's a real challenge and an odyssey into mountain biking in America. The Story - Day by DayDay One, Pennsylvania Creek. 35 miles, 6000 feet.
This is the first start, we can feel the thrill and excitement. The 350 racers are at the gate, waiting for Mike to release all that energy. Even if the day is long and promises tough moments, the racers are starting fast. After the virtual start, the rhythm of the race is set up and it's fast. It's on for the next 56 kilometers. From climbing crazy rocky steep dirt road to the most fun trails, the course is amazing and I try to go over the pain and enjoy my time.
Little by little I get my pace and ride at my speed, even if it's hard and I push myself a lot. Finishing tired and 30th. Time to rest in the afternoon, stretch and hydrate a lot. Day Two, Colorado Trail. 43 miles 7200 feet.
The day two promised a lot but I failed. After a reasonable start, I come back in force on the trails and through the different sections overtake a lot of guys, after aid one I am placing around the 25 first racer. At some point climbing the long dirt road, where I'm not good, I get overtaken by a few guys. That's where the things get really confusing... The guy in front of me comes back down, as he doesn't see any mark anymore, after a moment, a guy from behind arrives. He says it's impossible that we could get lost... Actually, we are, but we just don't know it yet! We followed some old race mark and got lost for a while and it's way more late that we realize that two four wheel drive blocked us on the corner. And that's how we missed the right trail!
Finally, with all that detour plus the distance to come back to Breckenridge, we did almost the same distance than the not-lost racers...
In the afternoon I take some time to rest and visit the fancy town of Breck, trying to drink as mush as iced tea as possible, drawing and writing.Day Three, Guyot.
This is the real start because today is long, rough and goes high. We are ready and amped to get to the real mountainous stages of the Brek Epic. And the day did not disappoint us! This was an epic day out there, long climbs in the wild and sick downhill behind the iconic Colorado passes. Riding above the 12 000ft line, above the tree line and around the snow patches. I loved it, even if my legs were struggling in the long dirt road climbs. I found patience and pleasure during the day, embracing the spirit of marathon cross country races. Going back to the civilization after all that was weird, coming from the peacefull and quiet mountains to the town, even if it's a race it still has the adventurous feeling. I finish in the top 25 today.
I arrive exhausted, this day was steep and long. My body is smoked but my mind is full! It was a great day on the bike, the souvenir I keep is strong. The rest of the day is spent watching moving and trying out new iced tea flavors. In the afternoon I accepted to do some bike duty and went to Beck Bike Guide to service my trusty Thunderbolt. Nick and Sydney from the shop are helping me a lot during that week, taking care of my bike and also letting me crushing at their place. What a welcome!
Day Four, Aqueduct.
The organizers always try to warn us about the stages, they keep talking and we, the racers, are just waiting for the start. But this time I should have listened more about the distance warning. Because this fourth day was long. Long. Long and Long. With a big diversity of terrain, of landscapes, it was a tough day. As I was not feeling good I started slow, trying to get back on force as the stage was going. But it was too long for me this day, after my mellow start, following my plan to survive and give everything, I kicked myself around the middle of the stage to get some places. Unfortunately after that effort, I was dead! It took me again a bit of time, hydration and food to feel the power coming back and have a decent finishing section. The course go trough some awesome place, above the Dillon reservoir, some ski area, some nice forest and even some mining zone! It's amazing to see it. Passing the line around 29th position, I was really done and tired to race.
It was a really relaxed afternoon, resting and meeting other racers, but I wasn't feeling like racing anymore.
Day Five, Wheeler.
Okay, I wasn't feeling like but the call for this day was stronger, I'm in the starting gate. Ready. Everybody was talking about this day five, like the most technical and interesting of the all race. And they didn't lie about it, the day was the shortest and steepest one. With long hike a bike and technical downhill the program reminded me of home. That's probably why I was so motivated and happy to push myself. The trails were truly epic, with awesome passes above the tree lines and gorgeous ride in the forests. I really loved it. But it was not the general feeling, it was a challenging day for everybody. Some kind of experience we all gonna remember, for its beauty and difficulty. I am totally dying at the end, the last climb in the ski area is tough but I cross the line in twelfth position. Showing that I am more comfortable on technical and rough terrain than distance.
This is the last recovery afternoon, I try to make the most of my time as my trip is ending very soon. So it's a good excuse to try some funny American food like choco pretzels, cream soda and other giant sized fancy food!
Day Six, Gold Dust.
Organizer Mike promised this day to be the more playful and awesome to ride, I think he just said that because he knows after eight edition that his race is hard and long, and so we all want this last day to be as easy as possible!
And this is actually a pretty easy day compared to the others, but still a hard day in the mountain for us after five stages. The body is acclimatised but it's tough. We had a serious climb on trails before the first downhill, an awesome trail in the forest. With good section zigzagging in the trees, and open one with speed, it was all fun, before the last long climb to cross the pass that drive us back to Breckenridge. All along the race the atmosphere is pretty rad, the community comes to support us along the way and the racing organization but some effort to make it special. Like Skittles on top of some passes but also BBQ fried bacon and beers! I even heard the sound of whisky on that last stage! The finishing trail was fast and sick, and I cross the line. Happy to succeed the race but also frustrated that such a cool week is over. Strange mix of feelings!
My stuff is ready, there is no resting afternoon today, just eating barbecue, drinking a lot and packing my stuff, my bike, my tools, my drawings... Before heading to the ending party! After that it's time to get back to Denver and eventually fly back home.
I am coming back with a mind full of souvenirs, from the mountains and the biking and mostly about the human experience. Because from my trip on the Colorado Trail, to the visit in Moab and at the end that epic race in Breckenridge, what strongly comes to my mind is the people. The generosity of the people that I have met on my way, helping me, advising me. The American's have been amazing in their friendship, patience, and comprehensiveness. I loved it, and it made my biking trip a real human adventure.
I would like to thank the Brek Epic crew for the invitation and the awesome event they make it happen.
My partners, Mavic, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Posca, Urge Bike Products, Ride 100 Percent, Formula, Clifbar, for trusting along my projects. This racing episode is part of my long-term project "Epic Races" which is a book about the most epic races on the planet. #vivelavie
/ @clifbar / @urgebikeproducts