Maximizing the Factor – Breckenridge 100: Epic Awesomeness

Juggernaut ESF high-altitude mountain unit in action. Loop 2 Breck hundie.

Epic. Awesome. Overused superlatives. Unless you’re describing something like Usain Bolt running the 100, or a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, or perhaps riding the MTB around Breckenridge – they’re all awesome, but Breckenridge is epic. Epic awesomeness. A high “A” (awesome) and “E” (epic) factor – unusual, and highly desirable. Hard to quantify, but you’ll know it when you see it.

There’s also awesome deliciousness, which I heard once, and it was kind of fitting under the circumstances – at an art gallery I think. So we’ll scratch awesome deliciousness.

Awesome in its epicness; epically awesome. Mountain biking deliciousness. Here the viewer is experiencing a high “A” factor while the riders are living the high “E” factor. Not the Mid-Atlantic.

Westward Ho Juggernaut

So a couple Juggernauts headed west – flew (actually fled) the mid-Atlantic coop for something a bit more awesome. Really not your typical Juggernaut gig, there were only two on this journey.

You see, Juggernauts typically travel in packs, and occasionally with their attack mimes, but not at altitude. Never take a mime to altitude, ever. Mimes lose their attack instinct and ferocity at altitude. Everyone knows that. But to be clear, Juggernauts do travel in packs at altitude just not in this case, and never with their attack mime.

Lacking in numbers, and without an attack mime, our Juggies were nonetheless on a mission with a couple scores to settle – the spirit of the mime burning deep in their bellies. Their targets:

  • Snarky and condescending sexagenarians (that’s an age reference – nothing more) who belittled Dickey on the climb out of Como in 2011;
  • and deviant trail-signage-moving miscreant m-f’rs who sent Fang off on a 10-mile and hour long tangent.  THEY WERE GOING DOWN!!!!

Angered, but mission-focused, the Juggernauts proceeded on their quest – their quest for Redemption.

The Road to Redemption

Arriving in Colorado with time to spare, the Juggies sampled the local Colorado Springs dirt for a wee bit of preparatory riding before unleashing their pent up fury on the loftier Breckenridge climes, clientele, and purveyors of ill will.

Fang, the elder of the two Juggs (and all the Juggs for that matter – an “A” and “E” factor multiplier [+1], yes!) settled in at the base of Cheyenne Mountain and began channeling his inner mojo in preps for Breck and the arrival of Dickey (Note: Dickey exists at a remarkably high “E” factor – never less than probably a 6, even when sleeping).

Eager to load up on some Vitamin “A”, Fang and Dickey hit the local Colorado Springs’ trails hard on arrival – unfortunately for Fang, quite literally. A well-placed Rocky Balboa-ish shot to the upper rib cage left Fang feeling all Apollo Creed for the week leading up to the race. Nothing like asthmatic breathing spasms to amp up the “E”.

Ridiculously high “A” and “E” values. Dickey, feeling the “A”; living the “E”; smiling through his inner fury. Fear this man – Ritz crackers certainly do.
(Phonetography by Fang – post rib cage assault, feeling everything, already feeling hundie)

But no fear, ‘twas merely a distraction. Fang would soldier on, and the Dickey would mercifully act like nothing happened. Denial is powerful, as is ibuprofen.  Redemption was to be theirs … the “E” was gaining mass, irreversibly gathering momentum.

A bit more detail – before and after

Dr. Hanselberger Van Olsen – we’ll call him Hansel, a doctor of science – recently confirmed that indeed Fang had cracked ribs during his training session thus generating highest “E” factor in the pre-race damaged rib category.  Hansel is a very serious man and expert race technique practitioner – and he knows about these things. You can tell by the wise look. He knows stuff. He just does. Obey him.

So with previous years’ race experience, Hanselbergerian advice, and an ironclad medically validated excuse for a mediocre performance, one stalwart Juggernaut prepared himself for the assault, nay – revenge, mmm, how about long bike ride in Breckenridge.

Pre-race Day 1: pre-ride Loop 2 – Billed as the hardest of the three Breck 100 loops. I’m not so sure, but without a doubt it has the premiere downhill of the race: 8 miles of Colorado Trail singletrack off West Ridge. “A”-totimus maximus. It is worth seeing at least once. The climb out of Carter Park, Little French Gulch climb, and the climb to West Ridge will make you reconsider finishing the whole race unless you’ve seen them. Plus you get to do the Colorado Trail at least twice in one week. Bonus – the big “A”.

I’m not sure what those little red balloon things are. Maybe video shops, movie theaters, or dentist offices. No KOMs were harmed on this ride – or QOMs for that matter.

Worth the effort for sure, but the pre-ride just about undid the “broken” rib “E” dynamic in this case. Already painful I was sure the 35-mile pre-ride managed to puncture a lung … or something catastrophically epic. Relegated to road and fire road rides for the rest of the week, the “E” waned. “A” was wholly absent.

Pre-race Days 2 and 3: Hardly worth mentioning. One road ride to Frisco – meh. And one fire road ride up to Boreas Pass and back – not too bad actually, and offered up a self-serving and gratuitous Instagram opportunity to remind my buddies of at least one place they weren’t riding their two-wheelers.  Notably, Loop 3 passes over Boreas Pass on the way out and then again on the way back. A quick 12-mile spin back up to 11,500 after 80 miles at altitude: uhm – awesome(?).

That’s my bike – facing west. There’s probably something symbolic there, or just my own revisionist wishful thinking.

What about Loop 1 you ask? A very visible jeep trail leaves Breckenridge and leads up to 12,500 and Wheeler Pass which sends you down the west side of the range – it’s impossible to not see the jeep trail, or Wheeler Pass – and sort of dread it – or pre-dread it. No pre-ride necessary, the visual and your imagination pretty much takes care of that part.

Finally: The race, three semi-coherent thoughts, and self-deception

It was 190 degrees back in DC at the time this pic was snapped.

It is tough to focus solely on the ride for 100 miles.  There is time for uninterrupted thought – a lot of time for some riders.  Like me for instance. I will not put you through any deep thought, however – just a couple of the big parts.

First – two DC-based dudes stuck at sea-level finished the race. A 100% increase over the previous year when I managed to course deviate and self-DNF after doing the non-sanctioned Breck 75.

Next – No records were set. But Dickey’s sub-11 hour effort coupled with his PB&J slaying numbers on the day had him taking the overall in the Breck Omnium. All while managing to put a shitload of snarky sexagenarians back in their collective places, and setting himself up to put the hurt on a lot of folks at Shenandoah this year.

And last – the race, three thoughts and self-deception:

1. The race

  • Done. Epic, awesome, and loaded with deliciousness. To borrow a phrase: MTB Disneyland.

2. Three semi-coherent thoughts throughout the day

  • Less-than-ideal irony of the day: climbing was preferable to descending. The ribs weren’t into the rocks and roots going downhill – using the brakes and breathing generally sucked. It was mostly an all Apollo Creed and Jerry kind of day. But still epic.
  • Noteworthy moment of the day (other than finishing): 50+ miles into the race and for once bombing down the smooth section of the Colorado Trail when I hear a surfer girl drawl behind me “yeaah, going fast for a hundred”. Compliments and flattery work well, are welcome and are sure to get mentioned in a race report. All good, and awesome; and
  • Phrase of the day: “Feeling hundie”. The 68 milers were exceedingly polite and supportive as they passed – which spanned from the climb to West Ridge on Loop 2 and continued all day long. More than once on Loop 3 when energy preservation and bike loathing is at its height I heard “Feeling hundie? Good job, keep it up”. More motivation. Feeling hundie has multiple applications – reminds me of Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. Awesome and epic never conspired to describe a work week, but feeling hundie? A possibility – it’s all about context.

3. One final deceiving thought

  • The climb out of Como back up to Boreas Pass is long. About 12 miles long at 80 miles into the race. That kind of climb leaves a lot of time for introspection and thoughts of whether the whole 100-mile MTB gig is worth the effort. All that time you could be using for other things like work around the house, more focus on the job, just relaxing and not being stressed about tire pressure and brake pads – Nah.

Shenandoah’s in two weeks, and the Juggernauts are already looking at next year’s MTB calendar. Awesomeness. – Fang