Though I've had two full days of recovery from the Breck Epic, the last day of racing on the Gold Dust Trail is still fresh in my mind (and in my legs). Despite feeling good the morning of the final day, the previous five days of racing had obviously taken a toll on my body, and the last day ended up being mostly a parade lap recovery ride for me. Knowing that I had a 30 or so minute cushion on the place behind me, I wasn't too worried about losing any place in the GC.
After climbing several miles on Boreas Pass Road, the route took riders up some one of the best singletrack climbs in the County up to timberline on Baldy Mountain. After many switchbacks and a flowy traverse on the Bakers Tank Trail back to Boreas Pass Road, riders climbed up the road to the summit. From here, they dropped down the backside of Boreas into South Park, taking a sharp right turn onto the Gold Dust Trail.
Due to this trail's somewhat remote location and lack of signage, many consider it a hidden gem for mountain biking in Breckenridge. The trail follows an old mining flume, weaving along a contour of about 10,700 feet for several miles. Unfortunately for many, this extensive descent into Park County meant an equally long climb back up to the top of Boreas Pass Road.
Riders were rewarded here, however, with the final feed zone of the Breck Epic, including cold PBRs, fans, and one hell of a banjo-player, Summit Fat Tire Society Founder Mike Zobbe. A final rocky descent down into Illinois Gulch to the Blue River Trail led riders back to the finish, and the various delights of finishing a mountain bike stage race.
Overall, the week has been a phenomenal personal experience. Despite several days of poor form, I was able to pull off two top-10 finishes against a stacked solo field, and came away from the race with great fitness. With collegiate and marathon nationals coming up this fall, as well as a full cyclo-cross season, I look forward to another five months of racing before closing off the 2011 season.
As a final closing to my Breck Epic Blog, I'd certainly not forget to thank everyone for their support this season. To my sponsors, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, Smith Optics, Mavic, and SixSixOne. Also a big shoutout to the Greenspeed Project, Mike McCormick, and the rest of the Breck Epic Staff. Thanks for a great race; I'll definitely be back in 2012!