Stage 2 of the Breck Epic may not have been underwater like day 1 was, but it brought its own set of challenges. That’s just one thing I love about stage racing. There are so many races within a race: the Overall race (6 days), each individual day, the race to each singletrack, the race between yourself and others, and the race between you and yourself.
Day 2: The alarm went off. A little more tired, but still up on the first beep. It’s only day 2 after all, I at least have to tell myself that I’m not tired yet.
My legs and lungs felt much better at the start than they did on day one. I had a new strategy today. When I feel good, take advantage and when I don’t, sit up, don’t stress and just let the body do its thing.
For the first 5 miles I rode with my teammate in 1st and 2nd place. I felt strong up the climbs and felt like we were moving along quite nicely. As the gradient increased I couldn’t quite find my rhythm, so in an effort to keep my strategy, I just relaxed and allowed separation to form. At that point, 3rd place caught me and also formed a gap on me.
When we hit the top of the climb, I was excited for some more technical features. As I made my way down the first descent I bridged the gap and caught up to 2nd place. We then rode together for almost an hour. We switched back and forth, taking turns but I never felt stressed and I never felt like I was on my limit. As we exited the single track onto another climb my legs felt good. Time to optimize!
I increased the pace and was surprised to find myself alone again. I looked up the road and I could see 1st place! I was a little in shock. I had been patient with myself and I was still in striking distance. Within a few minutes I was able to close the gap. We rode together up the next big climb, but as we neared the top my body began to question the effort. Again, I was patient and allowed the gap to form.
I then entered the infamous Colorado Trail descent. It was beautiful and for a brief moment I forgot it was a race. Everything was perfect. I was riding my bike on incredible terrain on a beautiful Monday morning. (Even if I was force feeding myself and struggling to keep all of the food down).
As I came to the final feed, I was told that 1st was less than a minute up. I almost didn’t believe it, but sure enough around the next fireroad climb I was able to see her nearing the top of the climb. Over the next few minutes I continued to close the gap. I was hurting a bit and praying for strength, motivation, and that finish line to come sooner. I narrowed the gap but decided to save the matches that I would need in order to truly close it for tomorrow and the next and the next and…well you get the picture. 2nd place for me today- only 20 seconds behind 1st.
4 hours racing in the saddle today- yet it all kind of blurs together. That’s when you know you’re in the moment, soaking it all in, and loving every minutes.
All Photos: Bill Schieken (CX Hairs)