Monday, July 20, 2009

Breck 100 report

I'm leaving Colorado today. So sad. I'm happy to return to my family and dog, but I'm going to miss the riding out here. All in all, it was a great vacation and I'm absolutely loved every moment out here...minus the day I raced. Because on that day I felt no love whatsoever :-)

Before I hop on the train I thought I'd put a brief recap of the race down, because I'm ready to leave the memories of that day behind. But first, I should probably mention that I can't even classify the Breck 100 as a race. Because I really didn't race for one moment. It was a 100 mile bonafide death march. I'm also going to be completely honest with the fact that I did NOT have fun racing. At all. I feel really guilty saying that because the course was so beautiful and there were so many great people out there. However, it was really frustrating not being able to push myself, or even go at a decent place. I've come to the conclusion that going on vacation and riding at altitude is a blast...but racing at altitude is not. And that's just my opinion. I'm sure a lot of lowlanders like it. Or at least a few do :-)

Lap 1- I woke up at 4 a.m. to get ready for the 6 a.m. race start. Egads. I was fantasizing about 24 hour racing and the noon start while eating breakfast. I hate early mornings. Anyways, the race started out neutrally, and we eventually started to climb a dirt jeep road. I didn't pre-ride lap one so I had no idea what to expect. We ended up climbing to 12,400 ft. and it was completely surreal. By far the highest that I had ever been and I felt really lightheaded. We were above treetop and it was kind of windy. As far as I could see people were pushing their bikes up narrow singletrack and I kind of felt like we were on a different planet. After we finally reached the top there was a narrow singletrack downhill that seemed to go on forever. I'll be the first to admit that I completely freaked out here. We were so high up that I felt like I was just going to catapult right off the side. And it was weird not having trees lining the singletrack. Eventually I got to the bottom and the rest of the lap is kind of a blur.

Lap 2- My "stomach of steel" completely turned on me and I couldn't keep anything down. I just kept the pedals moving and marveled at how freaking slow I was going. It was unreal. Since I couldn't eat or drink anything I also started bonking. The only thing that kept me going was the camaraderie of the racers around me and the sweet downhills. All of the singletrack downhills on the second lap were absolutely great, and I had a puke-smeared smile on my face anytime I hit them. When I came into the transition area I was pretty convinced that I was too sick to go on, but Jeff handed me my hydrapak, some hammergels, told me that I was going to finish, and I was on my way.

Lap 3- The race promoter switched this lap last minute so that the 10 mile dirt climb was now a 10 mile dirt singletrack climb. I ran into Juli and some other racers on the climb, and we all got lost at a creek crossing. We had to pull out the directions and they were very confusing. From what I heard a ton of people got lost in this spot. It involved bushwhacking under bushes to find the right arrows, but I was a riding sick zombie by this point. I just followed everyone. We did do a miserable hike-a-bike for nothing, but I'm looking at the bright side. I'm now a little bit better at pushing my bike :-)

After the singletrack climb I reached the dirt road that would dump me into more singletrack. I ran into a sports medicine doctor who told me that I had altitude sickness (Duh!) and that I could ride down the hill with him into town since he was quitting. I probably sat there for 10 minutes thinking about it, but I hate quitting. I would rather have a big DFL next to my name then a DNF. Partly because so many people help me out, and partly because I never want to think of quitting being an option. So he turned back into town, and I turned up another little climb. I think I ran on complete fumes for the last half of race, but I finished!!! And since I finished it means that I never need to do the race again...hooray!!!!! This race has to go down in the history books as being the slowest I have ever pedaled, but oh well. It's over. My race season has definitely had some topsy-turvy moments this year, but it's making me less afraid. I'm learning that I can deal with a lot of stuff and still keep the pedals moving.

Thanks to all of my Colorado friends for being so great these last couple of weeks. I will be back. Knowing me I will probably sign up for the Breck 100 again, and so I'm depending on the blogosphere to remind me of this post. Stop me if you can :-)

Thanks also to the Topeak-Ergon crew for helping out at the race. I've finally met the whole team and they are all super nice, fast and welcoming. Plus, I like their grips :-)

P.S. I was cleaning out my hydrapaks last night and my lap 2 hydrapak still had 35 ounces left in it. I started out with 50. That means I had only had 15 ounces of liquid in over 4 hours. That is so bad while riding at altitude. It's no wonder I felt so bad yesterday!!!

12 comments:

Krista Park said...

Wow. Sorry!

Sean said...

Dang....that is very high altitude. You still rock!!!!

Jeff Kerkove said...

When you came in...you didn't look or sound any worse than the other female Breck 100 riders. Hence the reason for the gentle push back onto the course ;)

Danielle said...

Jeff-I'm glad that I was able to finish :-) Thanks again for your help!

simonster said...

I got lost in the "bush wack" section too! Sounds like everyone went off course at least once.

thelastbard said...

I live at altitude, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't imagine finishing the big Breck.

I remember trying to ride the 1990 WC course at Vail Mountain on my first day at elevation in 1993.

It was ugly, to say the least. I remember seeing dancing marmots...

Congrats on finishing one of the toughest races out there!

Danielle said...

Funny that you saw "dancing marmots," because I saw SO MANY black bears out there. Of course they were really charred tree stumps :-)

Alicia H. Jakomait said...

Hi Danielle,
I came across your race report through some feed from a common friend on facebook. Jesse did that race, and a ton of others out there and the endurance theme there is "read the map find your way, that is half of the adventure". Anyhow, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry you had such a bad day at altitude. Don't give up though; some days are great, some days just suck. I had my best pro NORBA Result at Purgatory Mtn in Durango (I think that's like 9K?) but blew to bits at Angel Fire. Durango is funny too because it was my 3rd time there, time 1 was awful, time 2 was better, time 3...perfect! So don't give up, not that you would anyhow, right? Are you doing the race in PA next week? Jesse will be there racing. Take care, Alica H. Jakomait.

Danielle said...

Alicia- Hey, I remember you! Juli mentioned that you hurt your ankle recently? Sorry to hear that. I definitely plan on going back to Colorado!!! I loved it there.

I'm pretty sure that Breck was harder then some of the 24 hour races that I've done, but I'm really glad that I finished! Next time I think I want to go out, race immediately, and then hang out and do more exploring!

Richard said...

I found this report while researching the B68 in Breck. I live 400 feet above sea level and was wondering what it would be like racing at 12,000 feet.

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