- Written by Steve Thompson
Hump day Hump day, well it proved to be more than a hump for the both of us!
Wednesday's stage 4 was tough, on the map it looked hard and proved to be all that and a bag of your favorite chips especially following stage 3. Trust me when I say they plan it like that in attempt to test each and everyone of us out here just to see how deep you will dig to get to the end of the racing week and your prized belt buckle that only the riders who start and finish each stage recieve!
I'll start with Chris - He went out at a moderate pace knowing the length and amount of difficulty that layed ahead. He stayed steady early and said that on the big long climb after aid station 2 out of Keystone where you gain over 2,000 feet in about 6 miles was when he felt the best all day. Showing heart and determination through the demoralizing final 9 miles after aid #3 - he completed the day and is one day closer to fridays finale!
My stage went down like this. I got off to a great start and felt strong on the first 7 mile climb we faced right off the bat, went through aid #1 grabbing only some hydration and kept in contact with a big group over the 2nd climb and down towards Keystone. At about mile 18 I was pulling a big gear on a flat to slight downhill section when I came around a blind corner between a couple of trees and found a rider laying on the ground -- bad news! My split second reaction choice was to try and bunny hop him and his bike, veer to the right and try and squeeze by at 20-25mph or go left and fall down an imbankment. I chose to veer right, caught a tree branch and got tossed to the ground like a rag doll, all would of been ok had myself and the bike not landed on the biggest sharpest rock withing 20 yards. In the heat of the moment I got up right away, re-mounted the bike and pedaled off while getting passed by a couple of riders behind me. Aid #2 was only 1/4 mile away and when I rolled up they almost took me off the bike because one of the people who passed had told them I hit hard. After a short conversation asuring them i was ok to continue I pedaled off up the road, about 100 yards later i realized that I had smashed my bike in the crash and was going to have to limp it and myself home ( 24 lovely miles) So long story ends with me walking the hills and coasting the flats and downhills all the way to the finish where i somehow managed 14th on the day - losing one spot in the overall where i now sit in 13th. What happend today was unavoidable, the impact myself and the bike took was not good but I am just battered and bruised and have the igloo ice truck delivering a load as I type. As for the bike, parts are replaceable & I came with a backup and will ride Thursday's stage 5 - I'm not at all pleased about it and would of much rather taken all the beating and had the bike come out untouched but that's not how the cards fell today.
As for stage 5 - here is what the race director has told us in his words. 40 miles 7,700 feet climbing - Ok, Breck Epic'ers - you've seen just about all this old battle axe can dish out. You've suffered through the gut punch of Penn Creek on day one, possibly fell victim to the Colorado Trail's sweet siren song on day two and absorbed the blow of the thundering hand of the angry mountain goddess Guyot on day three. And if you're reading this, you faced the rabid Aqueduct stage down, met its stare and made it look away. You stood your ground.
Well this old bitch has one more card up her sleeve, one more knife in her boot and one more cruel sucker punch to throw before she'll kneel before you. And its name is Wheeler. You're going to top out at 12,500 feet, but only after hiking your blown ass up there. And you're gonna curse us all the way. But to the intrepid go the spoils. Once you get up there you're going to be treated to an experience few on earth can ever lay claim to - at that point on top of the Ten Mile Range you'll truly be at the top of Colorado and witness to our state's magnificent landscape.
So Sack up, riders. You made it this far. Do NOT go gentle into that good night. Do not give Wheeler the satisfaction. Do Not break against the shoals of despair. You're almost there, Get ready to punch it out one last time before the big-rin, big-grin glee feast of Gold Dust on Friday.
There you have it - We are ready to finish this sucker off and finish it off we will do!