From the “don’t try this at home” files…
The Breck Epic, a 6 day stage race out of Breckenridge, CO, is a burly task. One that, if someone is going to race it, they generally plan and train far in advance. I’ve been hoping to get in this year, and I found out late last week that I’d be racing it. That gives me exactly six weeks of prep time. I’ve raced it two other times (won it once)… the siren song of its official-ish self-declaration of being the “singlespeed stage race world championships” drew me to race singlespeed both years. If you told me two years ago that I’d have to take on such a task with six weeks of focused preparation, I would have balked a little. However, I have come to realize that A)being acclimated to living at above 9000ft will mean a lot, and B) I’ve developed a good bit of “old woman power” to fall back on when the race exceeds my current level of training.
Old Woman Power (and likewise, Old Man Power) is a somewhat abstract combination of physical and mental abilities that give you an almost-mythological power over your younger opponents. I’m just now getting experienced enough to tap in to the edge of it, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s worth mentioning that my riding since I’ve come to Colorado, while done without any real structure or plan other than “ride a lot until you’re tired and then take a break,” is conducive to a successful Breck Epic. I’ve done lots of climbing, lots of back-to-back big days, and the 4-5 hour outing feels pretty normal to me now.
So, these last few weeks before I need to taper back and rest ahead of the start will basically just involve a little more focus on back-to-back training days. For example- I raced Winter Park on Saturday, went out for a 3-hour singlespeed gravel grinder on Sunday, then rode four hours of front range stuff from down in Lakewood on Monday. I’ll mostly rest/recover this week, then repeat the process over the weekend when I race the Firecracker 50 (as part of a relay duo) on Saturday, do a long, high singlespeed ride of some sort on Sunday, then another played-by-ear hard ride on Monday. I’ll add in another mid-week hard ride on Wednesday or Thursday, then race Winter Park XC again on Saturday and repeat the weekend pattern of 3 hard days before simmering the volume down a little bit each week leading up to the race.
It’s worth mentioning, I take recovery pretty seriously. For general well-being, I go to yoga two days per week, try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, and visit the chiropractor. Acutely, I make sure to follow all of my back-to-back ride days with a recovery drink and 30-60min of time in the Elevated Legs. I can tell a difference if I skip those things during multiple days of hard riding. If you’re going to invest the time, effort, and money in to bike racing, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t do things that maximize your recovery. Those things are my not-so-secret weapons against feeling like crap on days 2 and 3.
Speaking of products that give you energy, I have some other cool, Epic-Related news- If you’ve ever skipped the products at an aid station because you hadn’t tried them before, then some of you may be in luck. I’ll be handing out free samples of Gu Energy product to anyone that is registered for Breck Epic and either comes to the shop or finds me at a race (I’ll be racing regionally most weekends up until August). That way, you can try it out and make sure the taste/digestibility works for you, and you’ll be able to confidently take advantage of Gu’s sponsorship of the Breck Epic event. If you’re interested, shoot an email to andrea at brickhouseracing dot com or comment below (make sure you enter a valid email address with your comment)
I’m super excited. Breck Epic is one of my favorite races for sooooo many reasons. It can’t be August soon enough!