Megan R. took 1st place in the Rocky Mountain Endurance series with her win at the Breckenridge 32 race! Read more about the grueling single track in this epically hard (but fun) race.
The days leading up to the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series Breckenridge 100/68/32 the weather was predicting a 40-60% chance of rain for almost the entire day. When I arrived the morning of the race, the sky was clear and welcoming. Checking-in at Carter Park I got to watch some of the amazing people doing the full 100 mile race coming through after finishing their first loop. I was only doing loop 2, for the CX 32 race. Having looked at the maps, I knew 32 really meant ~34 and that I couldn’t start my sprint too early. About 10 minutes before the start I was looking around wondering why I didn’t see other racers lining up to go. Turns out, Carter Park was not the start of the XC race, the Ice Rink a few blocks a way was.
I quickly made my way over to join the other competitors for our mass start. With no time to spare we were off, following our lead car up a windy, nicely paved road. A great warm up, and way to string out the racers. I ended up somewhere mid group as we made our way to the trail, the first climb up to Sallie Barber we rose almost 1000 feet, when things got steep and rocky many racers around me were getting off and walking but I knew if I could stick with it and ride it out I’d save a lot of time, and there wasn’t much room to pass besides. Finding myself in line behind two racers, the three of us ever so slowly rode past others walking up, I knew I could ride faster but didn’t want to risk trying to get around on the big slippery rocks. Towards the summit of our first climb the rider in front pulled off, I looked down at her calf and saw XC 24, my competitor! She was a formidable opponent, I could tell she was very tough and that I would have to work really hard to keep a lead.
The first descent was a rocky wide road with a few switchbacks, most racers took this opportunity to make up time from the climb (including my formidable opponent) but I just kept thinking, I want to finish this race, I don’t want to go over a cliff! Overhearing some people discussing how the 2nd climb is the worst I was eager to see what was in store. It was about 800 vertical feet but less than a mile to get there. So the hike a bike began, not 1 competitor riding up the super steep, very rocky climb to the top of Little French Flume. I could feel the lactic acid in my calves building up as we made our way up the rocks, pushing and pulling our bikes best we could. Upon reaching the top, you could hear a sigh of relief, and a reprieve from the heavy breathing, knowing the downhill and Colorado Trail were within reach. 1 tricky creek crossing later and we were on our way down sweeping single track to the first aid station. I stopped and stuffed as much of a trail mix bar as I could fit into my mouth and hopped back on my bike. The next climb was almost 1200 ft up to West Ridge, but it was over 4 miles and there were many switchbacks to make it more manageable. Every time I would pass a competitor or get passed there were words of encouragement, “keep strong you’re doing great! The Colorado Trail was gorgeous but I kept thinking to myself it was made for hikers not bikers as we made sharp turns and climbed over large tree roots. I was feeling good and half way up the climb I caught sight of the other XC 24 again. I realized we would be playing leap frog, with her tearing down the downhill, and me pushing through the climbs.
The next section was a long descent that was tricky with ziggy zaggying switch backs full of large rocks, and lots of sand. All of the vibration from riding down the rocks was making me feel a little sick, when the trail open up into a huge field with amazing views of the surrounding peaks a large grin crossed my face, it didn’t even crush my spirits that my competitor passed me because I knew we were on the last 12 miles! 1 creek crossing later and I was at aid station 3 where I proceeded to shove down 2 bars knowing I’d need all the energy I could get. The course followed a paved road for about a mile, I kept panicking I had missed an arrow somewhere and was off course but then came the next arrows and two volunteers guiding me to my last climb 800 feet up to Gold Run Road. That was the toughest climb of the ride. I was pedaling as hard as I could, my legs burning, my heart rate at 178 bpm and going 4 mph, ugh! I kept passing racers walking their bikes up, I wanted to get off and do the same so badly but I knew I had to push through if I wanted any chance of winning. I kept my head down and tried only looking at the next 20 10 feet in front of me, when I’d see a bend ahead I’d look up and get hopeful it was almost over, but it wasn’t. The mountain was taunting me over and over and over again, this is it! Nope, still climbing.
Up ahead I saw the other XC 24, we rode together until the downhill where we stayed together until it got technical and she pulled ahead. When we dumped out on to Gold Run Road she had a half mile lead on me. I pushed and turned my pedals over as fast as I could and started regaining ground, able to pass just as we hit the last little climb before berm switchbacks to the finish. I didn’t miss a beat climbing the hill and quickly entering the single track to the final quarter mile. The large berm switchbacks were intimidating but fun and I knew I couldn’t let up. When I crossed the finish line I was ecstatic! That day I earned 1st place in the Breckenridge XC 32 race for the 19-29 but even more awesome I was awarded 1st Place in the Series Overall for the XC 19-29 Woo Hoo!! I was excited to be able to bring this accomplishment to Naked and looked forward to hearing about our other victorious in a weekend with such a large offering of races.