The legs are tired from yesterday, but today offers up possibly the best section of Colorado Trail in the state. The climbs are challenging, but the fast, flowing descents erase any pain. Never mind that today also includes Heinous Hill, whose name alone elicits a groan from anyone familiar with the ride to the top.
After 15-plus miles of climbing steep mining roads above 10,000 feet and racing along swooping singletrack, the trail dips down to the Keystone side of the valley. For the first time, the vista widens while the trail turns narrow and smooth. Soon, steep, tight switchbacks climb to the top of another section of the Colorado Trail. Take a quick glance to the right and enjoy the views of the ski area. Buff, sweeping singletrack awaits on the descent.
Before the finish, ascend Gold Run Road and then navigate gnarled tree roots through dense, green forest up Slalom Singletrack, nearly 35 miles into the stage. On an easy day, you might just spin down Gold Run Road. But the Epic doesn't do easy, so climb back up, and then hold on for a stretch of downhill singletrack and the impossibly rock-strewn X10U8 trail to the finish. —Sydney Fox
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