Coming just a week after Cory Wallace’s 11th place finish at the Leadville, the Canadian diesel engine powered his way over to the Breck Epic. The Breck Epic is a 6-day stage race, consisting of six big backcountry loops in and around Breckinridge Colorado. All at altitude. With one of the race days canceled due to lightning storms, Cory would battle it out with eventual race leader Lachlan Morton and finish the race in third place. The week would end on a high for Cory winning stage 5 ahead of an in form and classy Morton.
Having ridden behind the top two riders for 100% of the first three stages, the decision was made to throw a curveball at them after I discussed race tactics with Dik. So stage four the curveball was thrown, going off the front from the gun as we headed high up into the mountains on the classic Wheeler Pass stage. Wheeler pass is one of the best mountain bike courses anywhere as it heads straight up into the Colorado Alpine, traversing some rugged mountain trails with epic views everywhere you look. The descent is as rugged as the climb, a 15-minute+ white knuckle descent back into the valley below before traversing back up to the Breckenridge town on a popular trail. Lachlan would come around me pretty early up the climb and build a 4-minute advantage before I started to rally and brought it back to 2 minutes by the finish line to claim the silver on the day.
Going into the final stage all eyes were set on taking the stage win so I threw another curveball and opted to ride my Leadville bike, the Kona Honzo hardtail. This bike would give me an advantage on the climbs but I would have to take some risks on the descents with the high post hardtail to try and stick with the other riders on their full suspension bikes with droppers. It was a pretty epic battle throughout the 50km stage as the race leader, Lachlan, would gap me on the rough singletrack sections but I would fight back on the fire road climbs. Going over the last climb of the day he had a 15-20 second lead for about 15 minutes before I could finally close the gap and attack him over the top of the climb and into the fast descent. Hitting the single track first I basically let go of the brakes and rode the Honzo way faster than I probably should’ve been, at one point coming around a corner to a small gap jump. With no time to brake, I had no choice but to launch it as Lachlan rode around the more reasonable line. He would get back on my wheel but I kept the pace as high as I could sprinting any open sections so he couldn’t pass and would eventually out sprint him for the stage victory. It was a rad way to cap an epic week of racing bikes in the high alpine of Colorado, also claiming the Bronze in the overall GC!
Over and out from the TransRockies. Three stages down, two wins, and one stage to go before heading off to Canmore to Kick off our Inaugural Canadian Rockies 24 this coming weekend at the Canmore Nordic Center.