Monthly Archives: July 2009

Race for the Mountains

Race color logo


August 23rd brings runners and walkers will expend their leg power on the mountains surrounding Breckenridge, Colorado in the 2nd Annual Race for the Mountains.  This trail running event was started in 2007 as Mountain to Mountain’s keystone event.   In its inaugural year, two hundred men and women sweat their way across the face of Peak 8 to raise over $7,000 for girls education in remote mountain communities of Pakistan.  

This year, R4M, hopes to extend its reach as Mountain to Mountain works to build schools and create opportunity in Afghanistan.   A change of date to late summer means we avoid our  late June snows and still muddy trails.  It also means we need runners, racers, and walkers to get our new date on their busy summer calendar.

Not a runner, grab some friends and hike the short course!   The trails are calling out and the mountain views are spectacular.   

Whether you race, run, walk, or hike, join Board Member, Megan Weber and set up an online fundraising page.  Megan has set a goal to run the 5km short course to celebrate her journey towards health after dealing with lupus for two years.  She set up a page at and is asking friends and family to help support her efforts and in turn support girl’s education in Afghanistan.  Support her efforts, or join us and set up your own fundraising page with a goal that means something to you.  Maybe you want to run your first 10km, or set a PR, or simply win bragging rights for putting your sweat equity to work at 10,000 feet.   Simply select Mountain 2 Mountain as your charity partner and then you are ready to upload photos, links and set a goal for friends and family to support.  Email your friends, post to your Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace pages and let people know that you are racing to support Mountain to Mountain!

100% of the race entries go towards Mountain to Mountain’s projects thanks to the generosity of our sponsors.   You can register online at 




The creation of Team M2M


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Breck 100


Whew – one epic mountain bike race down and another high class event in our own backyard hits this Saturday, July 18.   Thane Wright of Warriors Cycling has supported Mountain to Mountain since our first event in 2007, and this year has dedicated part of his hallmark race proceeds to our organization. 

Several members of Team M2M that raced in the Epic are showing up for the short course which benefits Mountain to Mountain.  The Breck 32 is the first loop of the 100 mile course.  If you fancy joining us, we’d love to help bring more racers to this shorter course which is suitable for intermediate riders and racers.  Want to take a bite of something a bit meatier?  Take on the 68 and ride the first two loops, or take on all three for the endurance 100 milers.  As Race Director, Thane Wright describes it, “You’ll cross the Continental Divide three times, climb 12,000 foot passes and forge high mountain streams while all the time returning to the support and encouragement of our staff, friends and teammates who are waiting for you at Carter Park in historic downtown Breckenridge. ”

Resistance is futile!

We have more jerseys, so any new riders for the Team itself are welcome to race with us.  Your only requirement (besides loving to mountain bike) is setting up a fundraising page on and trying to raise some cash to offset your sweat equity.   Super simple and totally secure, it’s a fantastic way to help Mountain to Mountain gets our projects off the ground in Afghanistan. 

We want to help out Thane and make the Breck 100, 68, and 32 run smoothly – so besides our call for racers, we are also rounding up course marshalls and volunteers for registration, or whatever else Thane needs.   Contact Thane at or check out the race 411 at

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A singlespeeder, a pro, and four sport riders walk into a bar…

The inaugural Breck Epic came to a close on Friday with the final stage on Gold Dust.   Board chair, Steve Recca and Breck local, Lauren Ross had a fantastic time – so much so that Lauren didn’t need the pepper spray swinging from her camelback for mountain lions.  (I’ll never let her live that down!)

Team M2M did what it set out to do.  It launched two co-ed teams that included: one pro, two expert, one singlespeeder, three sport, and one beginner racer.   They raced alongside some of the best mountain bike racers in the country, finishing mid pack every stage.   The team also raised over $3,000 for Mountain to Mountain by setting up online fundraising pages on 

It also started to build on another long term aim: exposure.   The day after the race ended, one of the Team members, Mark Wiggins, rode in the Triple Bypass – called such for the three mountain passes it climbs over 120 miles on its way from Evergreen to Avon, Colorado.   He rode in his Team M2M jersey, and was asked by a total stranger if he had rode in the Breck Epic.   Nice!  Yours truly wore her jersey proudly as I raced my singlespeed in Winter Park for their Cross Country Point to Point race, with a 2nd place podium finish.  

Big thanks go out to our initial private donor that wanted to see this concept come together, despite the time restraints, in the hopes that we would be able to benefit from some early exposure to line up sponsors, racers, and tap into the energy of mountain sports and culture to help fund our projects in Afghanistan. 

Many thanks to all that donor who believed in us, and all the racers that wore our jersey while burning up their legs and lungs on steep mountain passes and donating some skin at times on knarly descents.  You guys rock!!



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Breck Epic’s Two Big Stages



The two toughest stages of the Breck Epic are history.  

Stage three was the truly epic 47 mile 9,800 feet of climbing circumnavigation of Guyot.  Two front range riders, and long time friends, Mark Wiggins and Jeff Kobriger tackled the beast.  But first Jeff pounded some Go Fast, and offered up some Go Fast gum that had a warning label promising some heady side effects if you chewed more than 2 pieces an hour.  I value my digestive tract and politely declined.  Next up, Jeff pulled out the retro pink fanny pack filled with various gu and gels for the ride.  This was in addition to two aid station bags and his camelback.  I grabbed the camera after slapping a Mountain to Mountain sticker on the front, and nearly doubled up with laughter when he modeled it in all seriousness ready to ride.  A few minutes later, he determined that it might cause too much chafing and it was left in the car.  

Three massive climbs over French Pass, Georgia Pass, and Humbug Hill that had more than one biker walking were paired with some of the most technical descents of the race and lengthy rocky descents that had hands and triceps screaming for mercy.   Mark came in at 5:14, grabbed an ice-cold coke from the cooler, some pretzels, and then sat in the shade to wait for Jeff to come in.  Jeff had some cramping issues and came in about a half hour later.  Turns out, that despite have ridden in 24 hour races, this had been Jeff’s longest ride EVER in one chunk, and both agreed it was one of the challenging days in the saddle they had ridden.  

Riders at the Epic have been griping about the length of the rides, as in, they weren’t long enough.   Race director, Mike McCormick, asked the riders to reserve judgement till Friday after the two tough stages.  Racing at 10-12,000 feet is unlike racing at lower altitudes.   Your body just doesn’t recover in the oxygen deprived environment.  Sure enough by the end of Stage 4 today, the same riders that had been complaining were lining up for massages at the Mountain to Mountain massage tent, and comparing aching body parts.   Back to back long, strenuous stages in the middle of the race were making themselves felt. 

Monique Merrill and Mountain to Mountain’s Development Director, Jake Quigley took on Stage 4.  Jake and others were rocked by the extended hike-a-bike section on Wheeler.  Jake hit it about two hours in, about an hour behind Mona and the other speedster pro leaders.  It drained energy and rhythm, and riders still had two-three hours of riding ahead.  Five and half hours in the saddle, a rest and a shower was quickly followed by three bratwursts and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s before heading to bed around 8:30pm.   Mona no doubt rode from the finish back to work at Amazing Grace, just another day in the saddle for her.  

Tomorrow is the best stage of the race, the fun Gold Dust trail.  Board Chair, Steve Recca is up for round two, after Monday’s stage, alongside Breckenridge local, Lauren Ross.  A shorter, 32 mile stage, with great singletrack riding.  The awards ceremony and party move to the Riverwalk Center from the elementary school campsite, assuming that beers and celebratory pub crawls can ensue.  

Want more?  Check out coverage on VeloNews of Stage Four and Five.


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Breck Epic Stage Two

Stage 2 tv interview


Day Three, Stage Two – a day for full suspension if I ever saw one!  Today team leader and M2M founder, yours truly, was paired up against speedster and Breckenridge local, Chris Brown.  Chris raced the prologue on Sunday and was itching for something a bit more – MORE.  Today’s course was the short one, 30 plus miles and over 7,000 feet of climbing, so I think that’s more enough for us all.  

Chris stayed with the speedsters at the front while I did my best to hang in the middle of the singlespeed men.  Riding a hardtail singlespeed Niner means that I’m used to what the climbs have in store for me, but today the descents rattled my brain and bounced me around so much that I found myself sitting in my saddle maybe 10% of the entire ride.  I was either climbing out of the saddle or descending off the back of the saddle.  The ‘saddle cream’ was relegated to its moisturizing qualities only as the only time my ass touched the seat was on the gentler of the climbs.   Its one of the few races where the descents were nearly as painful as the climbs. Nearly?  Hell…they were!

Chris did us proud and is already ‘in’ for next year!  He seemed to relish the chance to race alongside some of the best in the mountain bike racing as the small field and group starts keep the fast riders together regardless of classification.  My goal was to keep in front of at least a couple of the singlespeed men.  We also got some Canadian air time as a television crew interviewed us at the start line. Couple that with Chri bike use as a prop for Indonesian television after the prologue, he’s going to have to come on as a a permanent spokesperson for Team M2M.  

The best racer by far in this race is Wendy Stack from southern Colorado.  Wendy is rockin’ the solo women’s category at the ripe ol’ age of 65.  65!!  She’s all smiles at the end of the stages and is the oldest finisher of the Leadville 100 if rumors are to be true – I need to get the google going on that one to confirm.   She’s been at the Team M2M massage tent we set up for the Breck Epic more than once, taking care to do all she can to recover each night and prepare for whatever the next stage throws at us.  

Tomorrow is Stage three and its the biggest and baddest of them all (sorry Mark and Jeff).  47 miles and nearly 10,000 feet of climbing.  Our two riders from the Front Range nabbed that bad boy – by a fluke of a stage switcheroo.  Race Director, Mike McCormick, switched up the races on us Sunday night and the power team were given a big ask.   This ride includes a snow field crossing, and several BIG climbs as well as some of the more technical downhills of the race.   Needless to say, team leader owes them beer and dinner after this stage!

Remember help all the riders out by visiting and searching Mountain 2 Mountain to donate to each riders fundraising goal!  You can’t give them a lung transplant, but you can get them $20 closer to their goal of helping out our non profit!

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Team M2M Tackles Stage One



Breck Epic’s stage one tackles the Colorado Trail – one of the best stages of the Epic.  A 34 mile with just under 7,000 feet of climbing, our ringer, pro adventure racer, Mona Merrill leads the charge for M2M Team A, with Team B being represented by the solid and ever relaxed Mountain to Mountain Board Chair, Steve Recca.  

Mona raced yesterday in Sunday’s prologue stage, the uphill time trial.  Riders had an afternoon start for this short but grueling 9 mile uphill climb. Unfortunately, at 10,000 feet, the mountains often taunt afternoon riders with lightening storms and torrential rains.  Yesterday the mountains decided to make sure that the prologue would show the lowlanders why raingear was a required element for all riders on all stages.  The rain came hard and fast at the startline and soon rivers were rolling down the steep switchbacks at Carter Park.   Mona and Chris donned raingear and headed up the mudslicks to find that the top 2 miles had been cut off due to lightening strikes.   

I headed back to the base camp to get ready for the racer meeting to discover one of the Mountain to Mountain events tents in a crumpled heap – tore up and wounded by the storm.   Hopefully not a sign of what is in store for our bodies!

This morning, the race started with blue skies and sunshine, with riders smiling and chatting as their OCD tendencies came to the forefront with last minute preparations.  Tire pressure checked and rechecked, water bottles topped up, gu’s taped to the frame, arm warmers on – arm warmers off – arm warmers back on.  The line for the lone port-a-potty never getting any shorter.   Then who do I run into?   Advisory Council member, Heidi Volpe is hanging out at the Shimano mechanic tent as her new, never-been-ridden-before Specialized is getting its brakes checked.  Cool as a cucumber she takes her bike as the officials call 2 minutes to the start line.  She rode the prologue on her hardtail Niner, and since Specialized gave her this sweet full suspension ride to try out – she decided to give her body a little extra love as its about to absorb five more days of epic singletrack racing.  One hundred and fifty riders line up at the start…only time will tell if all of them line up by the time we get to Friday’s final stage. 

The racer meeting last night threw us a significant curve ball as we were told the stages were going to linked up in a different order than what was posted on the website.  Significant as that means racers on our team planning for a 37 mile stage were now hit with a 47 miles stage with a substantial amount of extra climbing.  A couple of our racers switched stages to accommodate stronger/weaker riders, and others like Mark and Jeff who got thrown the toughest stage of the race on Wednesday started  to carbo-load last night!  Also of significance was the number of singlespeeders taking part, gotta love seeing more than a couple crazies taking on this course with no gears.  Makes me feel a bit weak for only tackling one stage on mine!

Tomorrow, Chris is up for his second stage, paired up with yours truly for the Pennsylvania Creek loop.  Seeing as he passed Mona yesterday on the uphill, I am quite sure we’ll fistbump at the start and won’t see each other again till we meet back at base camp!  


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