Never heard of the Breck Epic? No worries. Here's your primer for the six-stage, 240-mile mountain bike race held annually in Breckenridge, Colorado. Masochistic athletes battle through oxygen deprivation and 40,000 vertical feet of climbing through incredible scenery for bragging rights and a belt buckle. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, sign up here. Or pull up a chair on the virtual sidelines. We're riding the stages ahead of time to give you the lowdown on each day's route, as well as tips so you can finish without puking.
The race starts Sunday, August 12. Stage 1 is unforgiving from the start. A few miles into a 40-mile day, racers fly down the aptly named Aspen Tunnel before launching into a 2.5-mile climb strewn with loose, soccer-ball sized rocks. Did I mention it's steep?
When the terrain eases up around mile 13, make sure to eat. Stick with something sweet; fat and protein won't process well just yet. After some tight singletrack and another grunt of a climb to Iowa Mill with views of the Ten Mile Range, the trail Nightmare on Baldy flows like the singletrack of your dreams.
After an easy grade dirt road, another climb known and feared by locals begins. The flume at the top is a remnant of the mining days, and abandoned mine roads weave through the landscape. Without race arrows, the area would be impossible to navigate for out-of-towners.
Make full use the aid stations and forget cumbersome hydration packs. Eat while riding up Sallie Barber so you're fueled for the last, technical descent. It's not a gimme, as the trees are tight and the rocks plentiful. When the switchbacks appear, the end is near. The finish in Carter Park feels like a party, with spectators and competitors milling around. After the mandatory racer meeting, dinner will be served for those that chose a meal plan. —Sydney Fox
Want more? Sign up for the ultimate mountain bike race at breckepic.com. Get in touch on Facebook and Twitter: Follow the Breck Epic on Facebook and Twitter, and keep pace with your forerunners Sydney Fox (Facebook, Twitter), Nick Truitt (Facebook, Twitter), and Daniel Dunn (Facebook, Twitter).