The Brianhead Epic 100
By Leslie Williams
Photos by Erik Williams
My husband Erik, Brian Blair and I set out for Brianhead Friday morning,
with the race scheduled for Saturday at 7:00 a.m. Brianhead is so beautiful,
and as we pulled in I remembered the aspen forests and grassy meadows that
Brianhead is known for. Anyone who is looking for amazing single track
should take a trip to Brianhead in the fall when the leaves turn yellow, and
ride down Dark Hollow, Bunker Creek, and the other beautiful trails there.
What made this race epic was definitely the scenery. It had been raining on
and off all week, so we were prepared to get wet during the race. Brian and
I took off and settled in for a long day, and Erik took off for the Titanium
50 course, all of us with our iPods to get us through the long hours. I
never saw Brian again until the last 5 miles or so.
He was fast as usual, but was saving himself for the Leadville 100 in two
weeks. The race takes you up to the peak at 11,000 or so feet, then down
some swoopy single track, through a small town and into the forest. Many a
derailluer fell victim to the long sections of deep, wet mud throughout the
course. Some sections reminded me of this year's Vision Quest, as the mud
caused my bike to feel much heavier than usual.
Thankfully, being on a single speed, I survived with only one dive to the
hands and knees. I heard Brian may have tried to submerge completely in one
of the puddles at some point. I was not wearing a watch, and I remember
thinking how glad I was that I would soon finish, but to my surprise,
someone informed me that it was only 12:30...only about 5 hours to go.
I tried to stay positive and not get discouraged. There were several long
flat sections where I was wishing I had some gears, as everyone passed me in
their big rings, but besides these flat roads it was a great single speed
course. I was relieved to finally arrive at mile 87...only 13 miles to go,
which I thought would go by very quickly, but I was so wrong. These last 13
miles were muddy, steep, with a million false peaks. The course sent us up a
very steep fire road, back up to the peak, only to have us make a u-turn and
come right back down.
Cars were blocking the single track we were supposed to get onto, so sadly
Erik missed it and had to take a 5 mile detour. Several steep climbs later I
could finally see the finish line, but we had to wind down the mountain and
it took forever to actually finish the ride. We all agreed that despite the
mud and the fact that we were not prepared for the length of the last 13
miles, it was a great course and we had a blast.
We ended the weekend with a very long drive home all night, since our plans
for staying at a friend's house fell through. Poor Erik did most of the
driving, but we arrived in OC in one piece at 5 am. Needless to say we were
tired, but it was a great race and worth the drive.