Breckenridge - Wheeler Pass

Breckenridge has got to be the mecca for mountain biking. Every corner of the city has a trailhead to one great ride after another. I'll definitely have to consider the Breck Epic stage race sometime in the future. Unfortunately is starts the day after the Leadville Trail 100. This morning I did Wheeler Pass and climbed 4,400' over 28 miles. Peak 9 ascends 2,757 in just 5.4 miles. What was supposed to be an easy day for me turned into an epic ride up and over the mountain pass.

The climb up was really hard. Staring with a gradual grade up a ski slope I found myself not fully acclimated or recovered from the past couple of days. The view is amazing, though. I was happy to see other riders out and about, two of which were trying to catch up to me.

The gentle grade gradually turned into a rocky steep series of switchbacks towards the top. I dialed my suspension a littler softer, which really helped smooth out the ride and grip the loose terrain. This is definitely harder than the Columbine climb from yesterday.

The clouds are quickly rolling in, and I'm worried I came unprepared, concerned for being caught in a rain or hail storm. It's really exposed, and the temperature dropped at least ten degrees, but I'm almost to the top of the ridge line where I can drop down the other side into the safety of trees.

I came across a photographer who mistook me for someone who was pre-riding a stage of the Breck Epic. He was actually waiting for the pair of riders just behind me, photographing them for the website and promo materials.

The single track on the backside was really fun. It was long and very technical. My hands started to cramp up from braking so much. It was hard focusing on the trail with the incredible view of the mountains to my left. The end of the descent intersects a rather long paved bike path that runs all the way from Breckenridge to Vail. I'm about a third of the way through my ride. Frisco is just north before turning onto the Peaks trail back to Breckenridge.

The ride back was somewhat punishing. It's a rolling technical single track 10 miles north of Breckenridge. I took my time and soaked in the scenery. The rain from yesterday really packed the soil down making trail conditions exceptional.

I'm four days out from race day, and I'm feeling better and better everyday. Tomorrow I hope to preview the flat section from the Powerline descent over to Twin Lakes. From there I'll be able to mentally piece together the entire Leadville course.

This trip so far has been quite incredible. Eat, sleep, ride, repeat for a straight week. Nothing to do but focus on my fitness, nutrition plan and race course. I'm excited for my wife and good friend to fly in on Friday.