Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Breckenridge 100

My race bike taking a rest after a hard day of flawless service.

I had been looking forward to the Breckenridge 100 all year and the it did NOT disappoint.  It was every bit as challenging and rewarding as I hoped it would be.  For anyone that has ridden the Park City Point 2 Point and would consider that a 10 on the scale of difficulty, which I do, the Breck 100 turns the dial up a notch to 11.  Both races share a common theme: climb, climb, climb, and when you are done with that... climb.  They also share some of the best single-track I've ever ridden, not just a few miles, but in 20-30 min stretches.  For me the dial goes up a notch in Breck for 2 reasons.

  1. The climbing is intense and steep in places but the trail is much more chunky on those climbs / descent.  There are huge root sections stretching 20-30 feet, "baby head" rock gardens on steep grades that can stretch for 1/4 mile, and small boulders thrown in for good measure. The trail was rarely smooth so it was a constant fight for each foot of altitude.  There was no shame in using the little ring.  This year there was even an added bonus hike-a-bike through 2 snow fields on Wheeler Pass.
  2. The race *starts* at 9,600ft and reaches skyward to 12,320 feet on Wheeler Pass.  The highest point in the Point 2 Point race is around 9,200 feet.  The elevation was noticeable and forced me to dial it back a notch in order to survive the whole 100 miles.  
With that said I still love the P2P and can't play favorites on the overall race experience.  They both have earned a well deserved place in the NUE series.  I rode a strong race, felt great, didn't cramp, and finished in 10 hours taking 6th in a stacked 30-39 group and 22nd overall.   Take a look below for some specifics on the race and some photos of the day.

Elevation profile and HR data. Check out the full ride on or

The climbs I remember really putting on the hurt.  There were more but these are the major ones.

Peak Road climb up to Wheeler Pass.  We had to traverse a number of snow fields (see below) towards the top of the climb. I pushed it a little hard on this one from the start to clear as many riders as possible. The descent off the back is very technical and I wanted to make sure I had a clear shot back down.  Thankfully I did and rippin' that single-track was a welcome reward for the effort up the front side.
This little section of the Peaks Trail was one of the many chunky climbs rolling endlessly back to Breckenridge to complete loop1. There were rocks, roots, and some sweet single-track sections.  I rode pretty conservatively on this section opting for a smaller gear over mashing the pedals up all of those punchy climbs.

Loop 2 starts off with more climbing right out of Carter Park.  The first is up Barney Ford Hill to Sallie Barber, a short downhill section on the road then the trail unleashes Little French Flume shown above in blue.  "Little French" as it's called is steep, rocky, and unmerciful but it is ridable and I managed to make it up without touching down.  Again, the course hands out some sweet downhill after Little French to reward a hard effort.

This is the North Fork and Colorado Trail section of Loop 2.  The climbing was rough, just like you'd expect from the Colorado Trail.  Descending off of Kenosha Pass one would land just up trail from the green arrow shown above.  I knew from a pre-ride last year that there is some really sweet downhill of the back side but it seemed to take forever to get there. Climb, climb, climb.  I saw a few people starting to crack on this section.  I tried to maintain a good pace but was still not hammering any of the climbs yet.

The blue line is Gold Run Road.  It was an 18% grade in places and sucked. The hairpin section my Mineral Hill in the middle of the map unleashed an awesome single-track descent with swooping turns and a number of sweet little jumps.  Almost fun enough to make me forget the road section I just suffered through.  Again, the course dishes out pain followed by reward.  A love-hate relationship at it's best!

Loop 3 starts off again with more climbing, big surprise.   The line in blue is a steady climb that gradually increases in grade and rough terrain right before it drops riders off onto Boreas Pass Road for the first crossing of Boreas Pass.

After reaching Boreas Pass the course takes a right (your left) and starts the descent down into Como.  There is still a fair amount of up and down climbing on the trail but to offset that is some of the most fun and interesting sections of single-track I've ever ridden (in the red on the left).  You'll have to check it out! Once I reached Como I was ready to unleash all that I had for the second ascent of Boreas Pass.  Looking at the elevation profile in preparation for the race I realized the race really ends at Boreas Pass because everything else, with a few short punchy climbs, was literally down hill.  I was feeling good leaving Como and had just downed my 2nd bottle of CarboRocket 333 for the lap and swapped the 3rd onto the bike.  That's 666 calories and the equivalent of 2 cans of Coke working it's way into my system.  I was ready and my legs were willing so I put it in the big ring and started hammering out of the saddle.  I managed, to my surprise, to reel in 2 or 3 riders up the pass and pushed over the top with empty bottles on fumes.  I recovered just enough on the downhill to make it over the last little kicker, down the single-track and into Carter Park with a smile. Success!

Some Photos.  I'll add more once they become available.

The trail working it's way up to Wheeler Pass. Photo: Les Handy

A very steep "cary-a-bike" section. One slip here and it's all the way back to Breck.  Photo: Les Handy

Wheeler Pass looking north-west. The highest point of the race. Some steep and technical single-track just beyond the horizon.  Photo: Les Handy

How much food does it take to fuel a 100-mile endurance race?  About this much.  Chris Baddick and I split this pizza the night before the race.  It's called the "Gigantor". 

Wheeler Pass on Loop #1

Colorado Trail on Loop #2

Boreas Pass Loop #3

More Photos:  Loop1, Loop2, Loop3


KDAY said...

I got tired looking at the maps. Can't imagine what the race would have done to me. Nice work.

half2ride said...

Nice review Jeff and congrats on not only finishing but finishing in the top 25! Awesome effort as I ride the area alot and it is challenging to say the least. Little topping out that one:)

Lynda Wallenfels said...

Great race report. Congrats on your first class finish. Nice to see you killin it at the big races.