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Breckenridge 100 MTB Race

by Calvin Mulder

This was the first year for the Breckenridge 100 MTB race, and based on the course description, it sounded like a challenging race. Similar to the Leadville 100 race, the start line was at 9500 feet, and with a total elevation gain of 13,000+ feet. Every loop would send us over a 11,500+ foot pass of some sort. Snow fields and afternoon rain were listed as possible adversities. Also, the organization that developed this race goes by the name of "Warrior Cycling", so with the "Warrior" thing going for it, I figured this would be a great race. Although the course and venue was amazing, it turned out to be the hardest MTB race I've ever done... by far!

At the Friday night pre-race dinner, all 60 participants were handed maps and a detailed course description. (red flag #1) The Race Director carefully reviewed the maps and the course descriptions with us, and basically told us we were responsible for not getting lost. The course had some markings, but due to length and terrain of the course, not everything was "extensively" marked. (red flag #2) He went on to list some of the ambiguous areas of the course and some of the dangers (ie: stream crossings, bridges without planks, wild beasts, etc, all of which qualify for red flag #3). All 60 participants had his rapt attention at this point. Any thoughts of turning a sub 9 hour race time completely vanished from my list of expectations. Simply surviving and hopefully finishing before dark were now my top priorities. Once the RD Calvin reviewed the course and answered questions, he went on to list the participant's hometowns and states. I was the only participant from California. (red flag #4) After the close of the dinner, we shuffled out of the room in quiet anticipation/trepidation of what we would face the following day.

We assembled Saturday for a 6am start time in a small city part in the heart of Breckenridge. Due to a fitful night of sleep, I arrived early and watched as each participant rolled up to the start line in a full suspension, multi-geared bike of some sort. While there was no Single Speed category advertised in the race brochure, I expected a few knuckleheads to show. Wrong! (red flag #5). I set my bike down and quickly moved away, lest I be chastised as the "moron on the SS". About 2 minutes from start time, relief came in the form of a local on a brand new Bianchi SS. Now there would be 2 morons on SS's..

The course consisted of 3 distinct and different loops laid out in a cloverleaf fashion. Each loop started and ended in the city park, which made a self-supported race easy to manage. Loop 1 was 30 miles long with 4400 feet of elevation gain. This loop sent us over a 12,500 pass. Not much air up there. Once over the pass, we jumped on a ripping single track decent to a paved bike path to Frisco, and then another single track climb over a smaller pass back to the park. Elapsed time was 3h40m. Not bad, but I knew the next loop would be more challenging. After a quick pit stop, I was ready for loop 2.

Loop 2 was 34 miles long with 4600 feet of elevation gain. The pass we could ride over was only 11,500 feet tall. It started with a multi-switchback climb up and up and up. After finally reaching the top, we were treated to another excellent single track decent. This included a flume trail where we actually rode in the flume rather than on it's bank. It was an amazing and unique piece of single track. After all that fun, we had to go up, again, to get back to the park. This would turn out to be the hardest loop for most, especially me. Elapsed time was 4h30m. Into the pit for a quick reload and re-lube, and I was out the door for loop 3.

Loop 3 was 40 miles long with 4300 feet of gain. Again, we were sent over a 11,500 foot hill. The first climb was a 12 mile fire road to Boreas Pass. The cut off time to reach this pass was 4:30pm. I was relieved to roll through this cut off point with an hour to spare. As with the other loops, a rippin' single track decent followed the climb. During this loop, I only saw two other participants. The single track dumped us into the tiny "town" of Como. From here we jumped on another fire road climb back up Boreas Pass and eventually to the finish line.

With much relief, I crossed the finish line in 12h20m. This was much longer than I expected to be on the bike, and actually finished mid-pack. The other local SS'er finished 30 minutes ahead of me. The overall winner finished in 9h15m. This guy was the most recent winner of the Montezuma Revenge 24 hour race, which is probably the most difficult MTB race in the US.

As mentioned earlier, this was a much harder race than I expected, but it did provide a great opportunity to ride some of the best single track in the Breckenridge area. The RD did an excellent job with the course layout, logistics, and transition/start/finish area. If this becomes an annual race, I'm sure it will be one of the more popular Colorado races.

-Calvin


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