Category Archives: Breck Epic

Random Jersey Sightings

The Team M2M jersey has been busy after its launch at the Breck Epic.  

Saturday, July 11 Breck Epic team member, Mark Wiggins, wore his jersey proudly in the 21st annual Triple Bypass.  An epic road biking event that covers 120 miles, three mountain passes, with around 10,000 feet of climbing.   Having raced only three days prior on the Breck Epic team relay climbing over 10,000 on his mountain bike for the monstrous Mt. Guyot loop, he pulled out all the stops and did the same again on his road bike.  

The same day, I dusted off my jersey and lubed up my bike to race in Winter Park in their point to point cross country mountain bike race.  I thought after the 7800 feet of climbing in my Breck Epic leg on Tuesday that the race would be a walk in the park.  I was wrong.  It hurt.  A lot.  Tired legs don’t get much break on a singlespeed.  Neither does your ass when you ride a hardtail.  But the jersey got a second place podium finish.  

A week later, we had a third Breck Epic teammate wearing the M2M colors proudly on his road bike up Mt Evans for the reknowned Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb.  Steve Recca left the mountain bike at home to take on this 28 mile road race for the mountain goats…a constant uphill climb to the top of one of Colorado’s classic 14’ers.  Topping off at the 14,000 feet – its not just strong legs, but an ability to deal with the lack of oxygen, that challenge the riders that choose to tackle it.  

The same day as Steve was racing up the slopes of Mt. Evans, the Breck 100 was taking off in Breckenridge.  We didn’t have any riders respresenting this year with the short notice, but we aim to change that next year.  As the non profit recipient, Team M2M did have a presence at the start/finish to promote the team as well as staffing a few marshall and aid station check points with volunteers.   

One week later, I was riding one of my favorite rides in the Front Range, the new connector trail between Heil and Hall Ranch when around the corner of a switchback was a familiar looking jersey on an unfamiliar face.  Apparently the rider had purchased the jersey at the Breck 100 and it was now her favorite jersey.  She was excited to chat about our projects (or maybe she just needed to catch her breath on the uphill).  It was exciting to see our jersey on the trail totally randomly.  The ball is rolling!

In the meantime – keep an eye out for our jersey in the Laramie Enduro, the Steamboat Springs triathlon, and a few UK endurance races!

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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 Firstgiving.com 

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!!

 

Shannon

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Breck Epic’s Two Big Stages

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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.

Shannon

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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 Firstgiving.com 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

M2M_JERSEY

 

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!  

Shannon

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Breck Epic

M2M_JERSEY

 

This Sunday sees the start of the newest mountain bike race on the scene.  The Breck Epic.  A tour de force that starts, ironically, the day after the roadies start Le Tour across the pond.  Both are stage races, both are torturous, only one requires backcountry first aid knowledge and bear repellent.

The Breck Epic has partnered with Mountain to Mountain this year and we look beyond the inaugural year for a sustainable and fruitful partnership, it seemed only fitting that we field a team.  Thus… two five-person teams were quickly assembled to share the load of this six day stage race extravaganza.  

Only one of our motley crew has opted for the entire beast.  Advisory council member, Heidi Volpe and her teammate signed up early in the spring to compete as a co-ed team.  The rest of us are taking advantage of Mike’s desire to expose Mountain to Mountain to the masses by letting us assemble a team that can race in stages.  One of our teammates doesn’t need this advantage, local world champion adventure racer, Monique Merrill stepped up to help us handle two of the toughest legs of the course quite happily and my bets are that she will saunter up to the start line without a second thought to the hill climbing in front of her.  Quite accidentally, she is pitted against Board chair, Steve Recca.   Steve also willingly agreed to take on the same two legs, not realizing at the time who we’d be pairing him up with.  

Two front range racers and friends face off on the Wednesday leg, Mark Wiggins and Jeff Kobriger.  The sparks started to fly via email when they realized that while they are both racing under Team M2M banner, they are on different teams.  Let the trash talk begin!  

Mel Evans-Glenn, of Boulder’s Conscious Coffees (a free trade coffee roaster with common passions of empowerment and grassroots development in mountain communities) is joining us for the Tuesday leg and looks to be paired against yours truly.  As I’m the only singlespeeder this time around I will do my best just to hang in, with the knowledge that next year we’ll put together a whole team of singlespeed riders.  

Development director, Jake Quigley, is taking on the Thursday leg against local, newbie, female racer, Lauren Ross.  He is simply hoping to race on his own bike since the mechanics at the dealership drove his car into their garage with his bike still on top – wrecking the bike and the bike rack in one fail swoop.  So he’s been training on borrowed equipment, and dare I say borrowed time?  Lauren’s teammate for the Firecracker 50 for the Sunday time trial and is keen to pick up more mileage should we have any body or bike issues that arise.  Knock on scandium.   He’ll face off against one of Monqiue’s female racing friends yet to be determined, regardless she’s bound to be a ringer!  

All this to turn sweat, blood, and potentially tears (mine I’d guess) into awareness of Mountain to Mountain, Team M2M, and our projects in Afghanistan.  Each rider will have an online fundraising page with Firstgiving.com with a goal to help Mountain to Mountain raise much needed cash for projects and operations! 

Here are the ones already set up, we’ll add to them as the others get their butts in gear!  Some have offers of reciprocal donating to your cause of choice, others promise window washing or other favors.  Some offer simply the chance to cause a little suffering in the name of charity! 

Mark Wiggins, Jeff Kobriger, Jake Quigley, Shannon Galpin, Steve Recca, Mona Merrill, Lauren Ross

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Team M2M

Mountain to Mountain was founded by a mountain-lovin’ girl, in a high altitude mountain town, to benefit mountain communities halfway around the world, by uniting mountain communities at home through our common mountain culture.  

It was my desire to start an organization that didn’t take itself too seriously despite the seriousness of the issues facing the communities we aim to help.  I love mountain living.  I seem to thrive in the thin air.  I love trail running, mountain biking, and the crisp mornings that greet me when I leave in search of morning caffeine even in the middle of summer.  Could I start an organization that would raise money for other mountain regions by tapping into what makes my own mountain town thrive?

It literally started with the idea for a trail race, Race for the Mountains.  It grew into the desire to include mountain sports of all types as a way to raise awareness and money for our projects.   This year sees that desire take another step forward as we continue Race for the Mountains, become a non profit beneficiary of two elite mountain bike races and one randonnee ski race, and the creation of Team Mountain to Mountain (Team M2M).  

Team M2M is a mostly women’s mountain sport team.  Team M2M aims to tap into the energy and drive of mountain athletes to raise awareness and raise funds through racing, networking, group rides, and online fundraising.  Firstgiving.com is a fantastic fundraising tool for athletes to set goals and share their story and our mission with friends, family, and colleagues.   

Launching at this year’s inaugural Breck Epic mountain bike extravaganza, this ‘mostly women’s team’ will compete alongside some of the best mountain bikers in the country during a 6 day stage race.  As race director, Mike McCormick states, “If this course was a person, it would be dressed in black leather and brandishing a whip”.  It is a not a race for the faint of heart.  But if Mountain to Mountain was founded by the faint of heart we wouldn’t be working in Afghanistan….we’d stick to the safety of Iceland.   

I say, mostly women, because there are a few good hearted, and strong legged, men on our Board of Directors, staff, and supporters that want to get involved.  So while we target women, we include our male counterparts.  In the case of the Breck Epic, estrogen and testosterone will ride together in coed teams united under the Team M2M blue and pink bike jersey.  The only difference?  The men’s say “domestique” across the back!  So we’ll have two, maybe three, teams of Board Members, staff (including yours truly), and racer friends to represent.   Each five person team will ride one or two stages of the race, while Advisory Council member, and hardcore racer Heidi Volpe, is competing the entire six day event with her teammate in the 2 man coed team division!  

Now, that’s not to say that Team M2M is full of elite athletes only.  We encourage women of all levels to get involved.  Beginner racers taking part in their first mountain bike or trail running race are as much a part of the team as elite racers striving to come in first.  Its about building a community of support through the sports that unite our mountain towns.  One of our very own Board Members set up a fundraising page at Firstgiving to raise money for her involvement in this year’s Race for the Mountains in the 5km race.  Having dealt with a debilitating case of lupus for two years, she is on the mend and wants to use the race as a training goal and as a way to garner support by her friends as volunteers, pacers, cheerleaders, and fundraisers.  She set a lofty goal of $5,000 and looks set to reach it!

Bikers, runners, skiers, rock climbers… come one come all.   The only requirement is a strong desire to get muddy, sweat, and support M2M while you do it!

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