Breck Epic Stage 4

Breck Epic Riders Power Through the Longest Stage of the Race as Claes and Dong Extend Their Leads

Written by: Marlee Dixon

This is the biggest day of the week, as one guy said at the finish, “Every stage is so hard I just can’t compare them” and today is no exception.

With 42 miles, 6000’ of vertical and some gigantic climbs, this day is the longest on the bike.   Again this morning we started out in the middle of the town of Breckenridge with a pacer car to French Gulch Rd. It’s a dirt road climb for the first few miles which helps to spread racers out. Then it’s some fun single-track- Fall Classic trail, Slalom and Upper Flume trails before racers head up a new section of the course- Traylor Way to ZL Trail.

Traylor way was another dirt/rocky road climb but the new ZL trail was a great addition! It’s a beautiful singletrack with some fun downhill sections. Then it’s over to the Dredge lot for Aid 1 and up/down the Colorado trail to Vomit Hill.

Riders get the full Vomit Hill experience - Photo by Devon Balet/DevonBaletmedia.com

Riders get the full Vomit Hill experience – Photo by Devon Balet/DevonBaletmedia.com

For the lower section, Vomit Hill was mostly a hike a bike, then it tricks you by leveling out in a beautiful meadow only to put you back in the pain cave with more climbing- steep long sections that hurt. Once up and over it’s a fun descent on Horseshoe Gulch trail to the Aqueduct trail.

The Aqueduct trail is a flowy trail that turns pretty flat before sending racers out on Keystone Gulch Rd. This is where the longest climbing of the day starts- 1800’ of vertical over 5 miles. It’s a long road climb, followed by a singletrack climb to West Ridge. Then it’s on to one of the best parts of today’s course: flying down West Ridge. This descent is incredibly fast and fun. Once down West Ridge, racers make their way to the final climb of the day- Rock Island Gulch. This is a long, difficult road climb back up to French Gulch. Then it’s down Lincoln Park road, Side Door trail, Minnie Mine trail and B&B trail to the finish.

Barry Wicks and Drew Free digging deep - Photo by Devon Balet/DevonBaletmedia.com

Barry Wicks and Drew Free digging deep – Photo by Devon Balet/DevonBaletmedia.com

For the Epic, 6 day race, the Belgian Frans Claes (Loving Hut) quickly opened up a small gap on a chase group of Bryan Dillon (Griggs Orthopedics) and Ben Swanepoel (Squirt) with Barry Wicks (Kona), Drew Free (Revolution/Peak Fasteners) and Carl Decker (Giant) close behind them.

Time gaps between the leaders would remain at about 1 min through Aid 2. Coming out of Aid 2 Claes showed why he has won every stage thus far at the Breck Epic.  Despite their best efforts working together Dillon and Swanepoel were unable to close the gap and Claes would go on to open his overall lead by another 4 minutes. Dillon would best Swanepoel at the line for second.

Rounding out the top 5 were Free and Decker who were never separated by more than 30 seconds from Aid 3 to the finish

Kelly Boniface was back in the battle on stage 4 - Photo by Devon Balet/DevonBaletmedia.com

Kelly Boniface was back in the battle on stage 4 – Photo by Devon Balet/DevonBaletmedia.com

In today’s pro women race things changed around a little. Evelyn Dong (Shoair/Cannondale), Kelly Boniface (Moots), Serena Gordon (Liv/Giant), and Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing) all were relatively close for the first few miles then Evelyn started to pull away and Kelly was riding strong in 2nd.

Serena was in 3rd until the descent down Summit Gulch Rd. where Marlee passed her.

Marlee caught Kelly on the Aqueduct trail where they rode together for a little while until the Pivot/Epic Brewing rider pulled away.

By Aid 2, Evelyn was 2 minutes in the lead, and Marlee and Kelly were separated by less than a minute.

At Aid 3, Evelyn was still in the lead by a minute, Marlee was in 2nd, Kelly in 3rd and Serena in 4th.  Evelyn finished 1st ; 30 seconds ahead of Marlee who now holds 2nd place overall. Kelly Kim Boniface finished a few minutes back and leap frogs Serena Gordon into 3rd place.

Click Here for full results from stage 4 as well as current GC standings

Breck Epic Stage 3 – Mt. Guyot

Claes and Dong Conquer Mount Guyot Stage – Topeak/Ergon Wraps up Domination of Breck 3-Day

Written by: Marlee Dixon

Get ready to climb! Day 3 of the Breck Epic is the circumnavigation of Mount Guyot. It’s a BIG day with 6000’ of vertical and 38 miles including 2 mountain passes.

Day 3 starts in downtown Breckenridge and it’s a mile long neutral start out to the Wellington neighborhood before racers start climbing the dirt French Gulch Rd. to Minnie Mine trail. This beginning section of the race is a climb and racers head up Minnie Mine trail to Side door trail, a short breathier down Prospect hill rd. then it’s climbing up Lincoln Park road. Once up Lincoln Park rd. it’s onto the flat Little French Flume before heading down Little French trail back to French Gulch rd. again and Aid 1.

After Aid 1, racers start a mellow double track climb with some rocky and watery areas on the trail to a very steep single track and hike-a-bike (for most people) up French Gulch. This is the first mountain pass and although the hike-a-bike is brutal, if you have the time to look around, it’s absolutely stunning.

Carborocket owner Brad Keyes supplied the beer during stage 3. Photo by Liam Doran

Carborocket owner Brad Keyes supplied the beer during stage 3. Photo by Liam Doran

This is also where Jonathan Davis from Elevated Legs/9250 Cyclery, his son, Tanner and Brad from Carborocket hand out Skittles.

I wish I had a chance to grab some this year but I was too busy trying to motor on through to enjoy the rainbow.

Once over French Gulch, racers get a real backcountry epic descent down Michigan Creek trail into Aid 2. Then it’s back to climbing again as we head up Glacier Ridge road to the top of Georgia Pass; another beautiful mountain pass.

Carl Decker starts the Colorado trail descent. Photo by Eddie Clark

Carl Decker starts the Colorado trail descent. Photo by Eddie Clark

Again after the climb, racers are rewarded with some of the best singletrack as they cruise down the Colorado trail. The top part of this trail is a little rooty, but flowy and fast while the end section is rocky and very technical. All in all it’s a great backcountry trail. Then it’s a descent down the Middle fork road and Parkville rd. to the last aid station of the day.

One more aid station before the last big slug up American Gulch Rd. A long dirt road climb that gets steeper the closer you get to the top. Once up and over American Gulch Rd. it’s a fun descent down Lincoln Park rd., Side door and Minnie Mine trail. Then there’s one more up/down techy trail called Turks trail and finally B&B trail to the finish.

This year we got super lucky with the weather (it’s hailed on racers at the top of Georgia pass before, ouch!) and had cool perfect weather. The climbing in this stage is long and HARD but as one guy said today in the race at the end of the Colorado Trail, “I never thought I would get sick of descending”. It’s all worth it for the awesome trails we get to descend on.

Marathon World Champion Alban Lakata crests the days biggest climb. Photo by Eddie Clark

Marathon World Champion Alban Lakata crests the days biggest climb. Photo by Eddie Clark

For the Epic 3 day racers Pro Men, World Champion, Alban Lakata won the stage today in 3:00:18 and finished 2nd overall (total time 8:17:23) behind his Topeak-Ergon teammate Kristian Hynek. Kristian Hynek finished 2nd today less than a tenth of a second behind Alban Lakata in a time of 3:00:19. He won the overall in a total time of 8:16:54. In third today and overall was the third Topeak-Ergon racer, Jeremiah Bishop who finished in 3:05:46 (total time 8:30:25). These three racers crushed all the previous records and spectators said were incredible to watch, especially powering up French Gulch today.

For the Pro women 3 day, Sally Bigham (Topeak/Ergon) won the stage (3:41:14) and overall (10:16:59), followed in 2nd by Mayalen Noriega (Primaflor/Orbea) with a time of 4:47:17 (total time of 12:47:33) and in third was Kata Skaggs with a time of 5:12:29 (14:11:26).

For the Epic, 6 day race, for the pro men Frans Claes (Loving Hut) won again in a time of 3:12:11. He remains in the lead with a total time of 8:43:51. Ben Swanepoel (Squirt) was again in 2nd with a time of 3:14:03 and remains in 2nd overall at 8:53:17. Barry Wicks (Kona) took 3rd place today with a time of 3:13:52, but Bryan Dillon (Griggs Orthopedic) moves into the 3rd place overall with a total time of 9:00:36.

For the pro women today’s race seemed a little more spread out for the top 4 racers. Serena Gordon (Liv/Giant) started off strong and took a nice lead from the start of the race. Evelyn Dong (Shoair/Cannondale) , Kelly Boniface (Moots) and Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing) rode within eyesight for the first section and up French Gulch road where we were able to catch up and pass Gordon.

Evelyn Dong takes the lead for the day solidifying her lead in the GC. Photo by Eddie Clark

Evelyn Dong takes the lead for the day solidifying her lead in the GC. Photo by Eddie Clark

At this point Dong took off and pushed up the climb ahead of us. Getting up to the top of the pass, Boniface was in 2nd, Dixon in 3rd and Gordon in 4th.

Gordon and Dixon passed Boniface on the Michigan creek descent. Then Dixon remained in 2nd for the remainder of the race, never seeing the other girls despite being within 3-6 minutes apart.

Evelyn Dong won the stage in a time of 3:49:27 increasing her overall lead with a total time of 10:30:00. Dixon finished 2nd in a time of 3:53:41 and moved up to 3rd overall with a total time of 10:44:57. Serena Gordon took 3rd today with a time of 3:56:51 and remains in 2nd place with a total time of 10:44:13. Kelly Boniface finished in 4:00:10 and is now in 4th with a total time of 10:47:40. It’s been a close race for the top 4 women and it will be awesome to see how the rest of the stages go!

 

Click Here for full results from stage 3 as full GC results

Breck Epic Stage 2

Local Lady Marlee Dixon Takes Colorado Trail Stage While Belgian Frans Claes Wins it for the Men

Written by Marlee Dixon

And the riding gets more and more fun!!!   Day 2 of the Breck Epic is a tough day with some monster climbs, but the pain is well-worth it for the awesome descents.  Day two starts to give racers a feel for the great riding in Summit County. Today racers started at 8:30 again from the middle of Breckenridge. It’s a short mile behind the pace car to the first climb up Gold Run Road. This climb is a grunt and helps to disperse riders before getting onto the Fall Classic Single track trail.

Then it’s a quick dirt road descent to the next big climb- Heinous Hill. Aptly named – this is a hard mile long climb with some loose rocky areas that can easily push racers off their bikes. Once done with Heinous it’s a screaming descent on Summit Gulch Rd.

Barry Wicks attacks the Colorado trail DH to make up some time he lost on stage 1. Photo by Liam Doran

Barry Wicks attacks the Colorado trail DH to make up some time he lost on stage 1. Photo by Liam Doran

 

This road has mainly one line down it and carnage has been known to happen here. Next we got on the Galena Ditch trail, a flume trail that goes on for a few miles, mostly flat with some rolling sections. A new extension was built called the Galena Ditch Extension, and luckily we were some of the first riders on this new trail.

Once out of Galena Ditch, racers arrive at the 1st aid station and head up the road and get on the middle fork of the Colorado trail. This is a really fun section of the Colorado Trail with some short techy sections, climbing, and a fun descent at the end. Then it’s on to the Westridge climb – a ~4 mile climb up the Colorado Trail. This is one of my favorite trails in Summit County because of the awesome descent down Westridge and Red Trail. Then it’s a climb up for about a mile on the Hay Trail and down Blair Witch before racers meet aid 2.

At mile 30, this is the last aid station and it’s a few miles road ride until racers head up again on Discovery Ridge Trail. Once down Discovery Ridge it’s another dirt non-motorized road climb up Gold Run Road. This is where you start to see racers bonking as this road goes on for a few miles. Once at the top it’s on to more singletrack on the Western Sky Trail then it’s down Prospect Hill road to Side door trail, Minnie mine trail and X10U8 to the finish.

Today was 37.3 Miles and 4920’ vertical. With only a few rain drops later in the race, today’s weather and trail conditions were perfect.

Alban Lakata and Jeremiah Bishop wind through a ribbon of the Colorado Trail. Photo by - Liam Doran

Alban Lakata and Jeremiah Bishop wind through a ribbon of the Colorado Trail. Photo by – Liam Doran

For the Epic 3 day racers Pro Men Kristian Hynek (Topeak-Ergon) won the stage in 2:41:29 (total 2 day time of: 5:16:35, 2nd was Alban Lakata (Topeak-Ergon) in 2:41:58 (5:17:04) and in 3rd was Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak-Ergon) at 2:42:01 (5:24:39). For the Pro women, Sally Bigham (Topeak-Ergon) had a much better day today than yesterday (no mechanicals) and finished in a record 3:14:23 (total 2 day time of 6:35:44), followed by Mayalen Noriega (Primaflor/Orbea) with a time of 4:07:15 (8:00:16) and in third was Kata Skaggs with a time of 4:43:52 (8:58:56).

For the Epic, 6 day race, for the pro men Frans Claes won in a time of 2:48:21 (total 2 day time: 5:31:39) followed by Ben Swanepoel (Squirt Lube) in 2nd at 2:54:16 (5:40:14) and Barry Wicks in 3rd with a time of 2:57:12 (5:45:30).

Serena Gordon carried on through a rough stage suffering a couple flat tires and finishes 4th. Photo by Liam Doran

Serena Gordon carried on through a rough stage suffering a couple flat tires and finishes 4th. Photo by Liam Doran

For the pro women it was an exciting race! For the first 2/3rds of the race, Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air/Cannondale), Serena Gordon (Liv/Giant), Kelly Boniface (Moots), and Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing) stayed within sight of each other.

Serena was in the lead for most of the time with Kelly and Evelyn right behind her switching back and forth. Dixon hung in 2nd starting up Heinous Hill then unclipped a few times and both Kelly and Evelyn passed her.

Dixon stayed behind them rolling into aid 1 in 4th only a few seconds behind. On the road to middle fork and on the middle fork of the Colorado Trail, Evelyn, Kelly and Serena stayed close together and Dixon was a few seconds back.

Once on Westridge, Dixon passed Kelly on the climb and stayed right behind Serena and Evelyn on the descent.

Serena flatted on the Westridge descent and Dixon followed Evelyn for the rest of the downhill. Climbing up Hay trail Dixon passed Evelyn but ended up switching back and forth a few times and rallying hard together for the rest of the race.

At the finish, Dixon managed to get  ahead and won in a time of 3:25:07 (Total 2 day time of: 6:51:16), followed right behind by Evelyn Dong at 3:25:15 (6:40:33), Kelly Boniface came in 3rd in 3:29:56 (6:47:29) followed closing by Serena Gordon in 3:30:29 (6:47:21).

Click Here for full results from all categories including GC after stage 2

Breck Epic Stage 1 Results and Report

The Breck Epic is a 6 day stage race held in Breckenridge Colorado that features six big backcountry loops. Each day starts and ends in Breckenridge while taking racers on 25-45 miles around Summit County. Each day is very challenging with most days averaging around ~5000 feet of elevation gain at elevations above 9600’. Hundreds of racers come from all over the world to do the Breck Epic each year covering a total of 240 miles and ~40,000 feet of elevation gain.

Day 1 of the Breck Epic is called Pennsylvania Creek: it’s 35 miles and ~5000 ft elevation gain. Day 1 is a hard day mostly because it’s the most uncertain day. What to expect? Talking to other racers; most seemed to feel the same way, get Stage 1 over with and I’ll feel better.

Racers roll out on Stage 1 of the 2015 Breck Epic

Racers roll out on Stage 1 of the 2015 Breck Epic

Day 1 starts at 8:30am at the icerink in town. It’s a fast “neutral” roll out up the paved road towards Boreas Pass Rd. About a mile up the road, the traffic cop leaves and the race starts. It’s another couple of miles on the road until the first descent- Aspen Alley. Last fall Aspen Alley was redone and is now a fun mellow descent with a bunch of bermy switch backs. It’s a great new trail, although I do miss the old steep, loose and a little sketchy Aspen Alley. Then it’s up the Blue River trail single track all the way to the first major climb of the day- Royal Bypass to Penn Creek Rd. This is a long double track, steep, loose climb that leads to a paved road and then back onto a double track climb for a few miles. Once at the top, it’s a loose, steep descent down a road called the “Grind”. Then it’s back up for another few miles on a jeep road climb, Indiana Gulch road, before racers get to Boreas Pass Rd. Racers descend down the dirt Boreas Pass Rd into Aid 1 at Bankers Tank. Back onto single track it’s up and down Bankers Tank Trail to Pinball Alley, True Romance and down Nightmare on Baldy. Then it’s a fast descent on the non-motorized Sally Barber road to aid 2. New this year, racers rode a short climb up humbug hill to the new Wire Patch Trail. Wire patch trail is a fun up/down trail that parallels French Gulch Road. Then it’s on to the legendary Little French Climb- a 2 mile climb that’s loose and rocky. From there racers head onto the Little French Flume and back into the French Gulch area onto some fun single track: Harum Trail and Chantilly Trail, and also climbing and descending jeep roads: Spruce Rd and Prospect hill road. I’ve been riding these trails for the past 4 years and still get lost when I’m back in French Gulch due to the high amount of jeep roads everywhere. Finally we descend Gold Run Rd to the Wellington Neighborhood and then it’s a short climb up the road and the B&B Trail to V3. V3 is the last climb of the day and from there it’s a fun descent down Barney Ford and the new Barney Flow (yo!) trail to Carter Park.

Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air Cannondale) leads the Women's 6 Day after Stage 1.

Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air Cannondale) leads the Women’s 6 Day after Stage 1.

This year for the men and women there are a lot of extremely fast racers in the first 3 day Epi-curious race. Leadville 100 falls a week later and many of the top Leadville racers are putting in 3 hard days this week as they get ready to race the Leadville 100 on Saturday. The marathon distance world champion, Alban Lakata, the women’s multiple time Leadville 100 winner, Sally Bigham, are among a few of the epic-curious racers this year. For the Pro men 3 day stage 1 results – the top three men were: Alban Lakata (02:35:06), Kristian Hynek (2:35:09), and Jeremiah Bishop (2:42:37). For the Pro Women , Sally Bigham, although busting her wheel and getting a new one at Aid 1, won by 30 minutes in a time of 03:21:20. In 2nd was Mayalen Noriega with a time of 03:53:00 and in 3rd was Kata Skaggs with a time of 4:15:04.

For the Epic, 6 day race, for the pro men Frans Claes won in a time of 2:43:18. Ben Swanepoel came in 2nd at 2:45:57 and Carl Decker was 3rd with a time of 02:48:17. For the pro women Evelyn Dong won in a time of 3:15:17. In 2nd, despite getting a flat, was Serena Bishop Gordon in a time of 3:16:52 and in 3rd was Kelly Kim Boniface with a time of 03:17:33.

Full results here:

BreckEpic15_Stage1