Stay tuned to the Mountain blog this week, where we'll be previewing each stage of the Breck Epic. Click on the photo to launch a slide show, and read about Stage 5 below. Get more beta here: Stage 1 • Stage 2 • Stage 3 • Stage 4 • Stage 6
This classic loop on Wheeler Trail starts climbing up the ski area. Then the trail heads due south over rocks and roots to the remote basin between Mount Helen and Peak 10, passing the popular backcountry hut, Francie's Cabin, and continuing up the backside of Peak 10. At first glance the trail seems innocuous, but be warned: This section is nearly impossible to ride. Photos abound of pro riders carrying their bikes through the grassy meadow. When you arrive at the high point try to take in the cross-valley views, as peaks previously hidden behind their taller neighbors step into the spotlight.
The drop down the backside of Peak 9 towards Copper is steep and terrifying, but the terrain quickly becomes the shout-inspiring singletrack you've come to expect of the Colorado Trail. Take a fast, smooth recovery spin on the bike path before heading up the locally famous Peaks Trail which dips and rolls through rocks and over off-camber wooden bridges. When the log stairs appear, ride the roots on the left side and then keep ascending on the narrow rock ramps, trying to resist the desire to stop for a pre-finish ice bath in one of the creeks flowing across the trail. —Sydney Fox / Photos by Daniel Dunn