Breck Epic: Screw The Journey, It’s The Destination
By Jason Sumner
Whoever said, “It’s the journey not the destination” has never climbed to the saddle of French Pass or rolled up and over neighboring Georgia Pass. I write this because frankly the journey was a pain in the ass, or more specifically the legs and lungs.
Reaching the summit of French required an extended hike-a-bike that topped out above 12,000 feet. Getting over Georgia involved a grueling fire road slog that seemed to drag on forever before finally cresting at 11,800 feet. I cant say either was a ton of fun.
But wow, once up top it was all I could do to not to start belting out Julie Andrews impersonations. To call it spectacularly scenic is an injustice. Rocky Mountains left, right, and center. Ranging high-alpine meadows. Flowers. Cobalt blue Colorado sky. And a few crazy super fans stationed at the top of French handing out Skittles and good cheer. Yum.
It also didn’t hurt that after each monster climb, riders were rewarded with extended romps of narrow, fast, and sometimes frightening singletrack. And that’s not even the best news. After enduring a storm worthy of a Deadliest Catch episode on Monday, normal Colorado weather returned Tuesday. Sunny, warm, delightful.
It was all part of stage 3 here at the Breck Epic mountain bike stage race, which saw racers battle the 37-mile Mt. Guyot Loop, total climbing 6,154 feet.
It’s tough to retrace the entire day. The brain is starting to get pretty soft after three days of (semi) hard charging. But besides awe-inspiring views, the highlight was the plummet off the top of Georgia Pass down the Colorado Trail. Things started out smooth, fast, and fun. But about halfway down this near 4-mile descent, buff gave way to burly. Indeed, it was like an glacier rolled through way back when and took a big old rock dump right on the trail. Needless to say, cyclocross skills (and discretion) became exceptionally valuable.
The personal good news is that aside from an early stage case of burping rear tubeless tire, the day was drama free, albeit a little slow (just a shade under 5 hours start to finish). I’ve now officially started a pattern, posting successive stage finishes of 5th, then 6th, and today 7th in the hotly contested 40-plus category. Hopefully we can break that trend Wednesday, but I’m not gonna hold my breath. There’s not enough O2 up here as it is.
Speaking of Wednesday, up next is arguably the Breck Epic’s toughest day, aka the Keystone Loop, a 42-mile grind with 8,850 feet of climbing. Among the highlights are more time on the Colorado Trail, a rip across something called the Aqueduct Trail, and a showdown with Vomit Hill. Sounds like a messy journey, but I bet the destination will be rad.
Photos by Jeff Kerkove