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!