Editor’s Note: Colby Pearce, best known for his track racing, also like to race mountain bikes. On the track, Pearce was a 2004 Olympian, Pan Am Games bronze medalist (2003), 14 time national track champion, U.S. hour record holder, 11-time track world cup medalist and the U.S. National Track Team coach from 2005 to 2007. Pearce will be blogging from the Breck Epic this week. Today was the second stage of the Breck Epic stage race. It was about 40 miles long and included a giant section of the Colorado Trail, which is for mountain bikers what a four-scoop chocolate ice cream Sunday is to my daughter. All together, it offered perfect flowing trails, which were purpose built and challenging but not insane, postcard views, and a smile on your face most of the day.
I imagine that in about two years, there will be tiny handlebar mounted cameras with super small push buttons, which will be integrated with our electronic shifting/ shock lockout/ brake levers, so that we can take action still and video shots while racing (without having to strap it to our helmets or take hands off the bars). These will also have simultaneous data feed, with HR, power output, speed, cadence, percent gradient, suffer-o-meter, and maybe blood sugar levels. I don’t have one of these yet but I do have some helpful photographers out there on course to get me some action shots, some of which may indicate that I have seen better days on a bike.
Speaking of which, I had some blood sugar issues today. My ride did not start off spectacularly, which was not any different than yesterday, except that my legs never really came around, which was different than yesterday. On a good cross-country day, you can apply full force to the pedals the entire ride, start to finish.
These don’t happen that often, but when they do, you tend to remember them. On average days, you have periods of full pressure, but they are interrupted by periods of yuckiness. This is a technical term that amounts to some quantity of less than 100 percent pressure. Today was a less than average day. It took about two hours for my legs to open up enough to apply full pressure, which I did for one fifteen-minute climb. Then I promptly bonked.
When you bonk in a cross-country race, the remedy can be difficult to apply. Eating can be challenging when blood sugar is low, but while riding bumpy, rooted, technical singletrack, it progresses from challenging to hazardous.
Mountain bike racing is a sport of minutiae and details; fork pressure, tire pressure, tire choice, sealant selection and quantity … accessibility of calories is paramount and falls in this category. Unwrapping food with both hands is impossible so wrappers must be a one-hand-to-mouth kind of operation. This requires some fore thought. Especially because I refuse to join the “I ate 12 gels today” club.
Every year Breck Epic race promoter Mike McCormack gives us a big speech about how this is his back yard, and how no one throws trash in their back yard, and how we should pretend his back yard is our back yard, and then I forget the rest.
During stage 1, I was yo-yoing back and forth all day with Jamis rider Blake Harlan, who represented the U.S. team at Marathon World Championships this year. This is Blake’s fifth MTB stage race this season. On the first stage, generally speaking I climbed faster of the two of us, and he descended faster. All said and done by the end of the day, I think we were separated by seven seconds. Last fall I coached the CU cycling team and Blake was on the team we took to Collegiate National Championships. Then, he was the student and I was the teacher.
Today, Blake was climbing faster (or I was climbing slower, or maybe some of both). When we reached the high point of the race on the Colorado Trail, a juxtaposition of teacher and student occurred. Blake went so fast down that descent that I thought I had gone off course at the bottom, as he was completely out of site at a point when there was a long way to see. Blake schooled me.
Today’s stage ended like yesterday, with Costa Rican phenom Lico Ramirez dominating the peloton. His GC lead is now 17 minutes over Cameron Chambers. He is probably attempting to accumulate enough of a buffer so that if he has a backcountry equipment failure, he can still win. In order to feel completely secure, my estimate is that he needs about an hour over second place. At this rate he will have it by the start of day 5.
Macky Franklin had another bad equipment day with multiple flats and a wrong turn. But Breckenridge local and super road talent Taylor Sheldon (Fly V on the road, Tokyo Joe’s on the trail) leads the flat tally of the race thus far with six total.
As for me, after my very not so stellar day and a colossal bonk, I am clinging to seventh on GC. Hopefully tomorrow my legs will have adjusted (the second day of stage races are sometimes the worst) and I will find better rhythm.
Thanks for reading. Tomorrow we go over French Pass, which is like a vertical goat trail, except harder. I am sure there will be stories to tell.