28 July, 2009
Three days in Breck
Four days so far here in Breck. Saturday ended the long drive from Asheville. I got here, and instantly became homeless because the hostel place that told me I didn't need to make a reservation, was all booked up. Town was packed, and town is expensive. So for a few hours I made calls and walked around looking for a place to stay. It all worked out, got a condo at a good rate, got the bonuses of a kitchen and laundry, and made myself at home.
Sunday was the first day of riding. Brought the road bike out so I could ease into the elevation, and put it to good use on a short spin along the Blue River rec path, up to Frisco, and then around the Dillon reservoir. There's a short, 500ft climb up Swan Mountain Rd, but other than that, nice and flat. I did actually see a woman pulled over and taking Oxygen from a medical grade stainless canister. This opposed to the $25 dollar personal oxygen they sell in all the stores. hmm..
Monday. More road riding. This time from Breck to Frisco, and then around to Copper where I picked up another rec path and road up to Vail Pass. Its a 1500 ft gain, getting you to 10,500 or something. There's a large parking lot and rest stop up there, crowded with people. Its good to see so many people on bikes. I saw folks starting to descend from Vail Pass thinking, surely someone of that age/weight/experience, is shuttling. An hour later I saw them all making their way back up to the pass. A genuine "Way to Go Folks" to all of em. Way to not sit on the couch. In the meantime my penchant for road biking on gravel reared its head, and I climbed up Shrine Pass Rd on a whim, and was awesomely surprised. More climbing, more desired elevation, and the road was perfect for skinny tires. Grabbed a few pics at the top after scrambling around in road shoes, and then made my way back down to the pass, down to Copper, and down to Frisco. The bike paths up here, while pretty crowded at times, are a great road riding source. The only roads around here are busy roads, and the rec paths offer a pretty quiet way to get around.
Tuesday: Time to break the mountain bike out. This years CTR added on a section that is usually detoured by bikes; Segment 7. It runs from just north of Breck proper, up and over the Ten Mile range, crossing the Continental Divide, and then down into Copper. I headed out early, trying to ensure I didn't hit any afternoon weather up high. The trail climbs up a short climb and then descends to a lake and water source. This climb was generally climbable, in a very small gear. I didn't have all my CTR stuff with me, but I did have some weight. Hopefully the added weight doesn't tip the needle and put this section into the walking zone. The descent was a lot of fun. Fairly narrow trail, rocky enough to be interesting, and all through fairly dense forest.
I past a few campers at the lake/pond at the bottom and started the climb up to 12,000 ft. For the most part, this was a long walk with my bike. If I rode a half mile I'd be surprised. The weather up top was pretty harsh. Still sunny, but pretty cold, and the wind coming from the west side of the Divide was howling. I spent about a mile slowly climbing the ridge on the East side, occasionally popping into an exposed position and nearly getting blown sideways. This continued off and on the whole way until the trail switches back a few times to gain the divide proper. If the elevation and walking over rocky ground weren't enough, the wind coming over the top actually doubled the effort needed to simply make the ridge.
Once on top, it was absolutely stunning. Breck could be seen down the gradual slope of the East side, and the treeless runs of Copper Mountain down the much steeper west side. The trail up here was finally rideable again, if you tacked into the wind a bit to stay straight. I spent a lot of the time 12 inches to the left of the actual trail, fighting to get back in the groove, albeit a rocky groove. The trail takes possibly the only non steep fall line into Copper, gradually swooping through long switchbacks above tree line, and then tightening up in the timber. A little off camber, and a little wet from last nights storm, but almost a wide open descent with a couple brake checks through the shadows or some rocks.
Copper was a welcome site. The section is supposed to be slow. And it didn't disappoint. I hit the trail head at about 8:30 this morning, and ended the segment at the highway at about 12:15. Just under 4 hours, but not really loaded, and obviously fresh. This should prove interesting during the race. My goal is to have about 14 miles under my belt and hit this very early on day 2, and not have the pressure to go much further into 8. A good little recovery day, other than the 3 hour hike up to the Divide.