The Breck Epic. It's sort of the mother of all races, at least for us western PA single speeders. Dahn was trying to talk me into it for a while, and eventually it just looked too good not to sign up, so I registered.
In addition to a bike race, coincidentally this week was also the Unofficial 2021 Colorado Arm Wrestling Championships, scroll to the bottom to see the results.
We had a great crew out there all staying in the party AirBNB. It was me, Dahn, Will, Rob, Chrissy, Dicky, Montana, Colleen, and Jesu, plus Brad for a couple days and a couple other friends who stopped by for a little. And don't forget the other Pittsburgh SS'er out there, Rege, who was staying somewhere else.
The trip for me started the night before we started the drive, when I went to Dahn's house and got to sample some of the famous Dahn Pahrs margaritas. The next morning, we drove into the city to pick up Jesu, and we were off. The drive was pretty easy for the first dozen or so hours, save for the occasional time Dahn got upset about someone cruising in the left lane.
It was sort of hard to sleep in the car, so I didn't really sleep at all, and instead we jammed out to Jesu's Portuguese hype music at 3am as we drove through Kansas. Oh, and there were also some fun thunderstorms (well, not fun for Dahn the driver) in Missouri just as it was getting dark.
We finally made it into Denver around 5am and stopped at an IHOP for breakfast. This was one of the funniest things of the whole trip, so get ready. We sit down to order, and Jesu, Brazilian and therefore a native Portuguese speaker, tells the waitress he wants "strumble eggs". We all looked at each other, not knowing what to do, and finally Dahn says, "he means scrambled, he'll have the scrambled eggs".
Then, the waitress asks if Jesu wants white or wheat toast.
"Wheat? White?" Jesu asks, obviously confused.
"He'll have the white toast", Dahn answered matter-of-factly.
After the waitress left, Dahn and I jokingly laughed at/with Jesu, especially considering he was just telling us how good his English was getting.
We left IHOP and drove up into the mountains, the final leg to Breckenridge.
After getting to Breckenridge, we drove up Boreas Pass Road to the Continental Divide. It was really cool to see the sign marking the actual divide. Funny enough, next summer I plan to ride this same road again as a part of a big route.
In the right picture, you can see Dahn trying to explain to Jesu which way the race goes. Jesu must have asked at least a dozen times to explain where the race went, and Dahn did his best to explain. It was another pretty funny moment of the trip, even if Dahn was frustrated.
After driving back down Boreas Pass Road, we did a little hike around the ski resort where the race registration was. Dahn, recovering from an ankle injury and quite tired from the long drive, nearly rolled his ankle numerous times on the short hike we did. Thankfully, he came out unscathed.
Me, Jesu, and Dahn did a cool ride on some singletrack, and then headed back to the AirBNB to wait for everyone else to arrive. Jesu broke the closing mechanism on a door, but after Montana got there, he fixed it. Everyone sort of got settled into the place, we got some dinner, hung out some more, and I finally went to bed after being awake for about 40 hours straight.
|Living the hot-tub life|
Now, the most exciting part of the trip was probably the house scoring system. You got points for doing things like soaking in the hot tub, drinking a margarita, or riding a single speed bike. You lost points for doing things like using suspension, buying non-alcoholic drinks, or being Dahn (he lost 5 points per day for being himself). And then, there were some bonus points given out, like 10 points for having long hair, 10 points for looking like Montana, and maybe 2 or 3 points for Will racing the Leadville 100 the day before Breck Epic.
The next day, Saturday, the whole AirBNB crew plus some others (Rege and Andrew) did an awesome trail ride on some of the trails in the race. Chasing Montana on his fully rigid bike with my full suspension bike down the descents was pretty fun.
The obligatory group photograph (minus Will, who was racing Leadville at that exact moment). Looking back at this picture, it really makes me remember how much fun that trip was.
|The high point of my race week|
Now for the actual race. Stage 1 starts, and immediately, being an idiot, I chased the front group of pros like Lachlan Morton and Keegen Swenson. I distinctly remember passing Will about 1/4 mile in to the race and thinking, "damn, I'm feeling good today".
Fast forward about 1 mile, and Will comes blowing past me at the top of the climb, and I was ready to have a heart attack.
So basically, I destroyed myself for the whole day in the first mile.
I seriously was seeing stars on the whole first downhill, I think it was a combination of the altitude, excitement, and going way too hard. I completely ignored Will's advice to take it easy to start because of the altitude.
That first stage was some unbelievable terrain, but it was also very hard. Probably the hardest few hours of racing I've ever had. After the stage, we got our pictures taken, and waited around at the finish. After Dahn crossed the line, it started to rain, so me, Will, and Dahn raced back to the house to avoid getting soaked.
The next day, I paced myself much better. I felt pretty strong, and was able to pass all the other singlespeeders except Macky Franklin, who was way far away in the lead.
The Colorado Trail climb was long, but the descent after it was breathtaking. Seemingly endless switchbacks down scenic Colorado mountains, all while chasing people ahead of me. It was definitely some of the most fun I've had on a bike all year.
Toward the end of that stage, there was a long gravel climb, and that's where I was able to pass the 2nd and 3rd place singlespeeders. I pushed hard to the finish and got 2nd on the day, which put me into 3rd place GC after the first two stages.
The next day, I wasn't feeling quite as good, but I was still feeling pretty good about myself. I was sitting somewhere around 3rd place singlespeed for the day, just out enjoying the trails, when the nightmare happened.
I was riding down one of the final downhills with a fellow single speeder, having a good time, getting some air off some dirt rollers, when all of a sudden... BAM!
I got launched funny off the one roller, landed entirely on my front wheel, and tumbled over the handlebars at about 25mph. I rag-dolled down the dirt road for a while, and when I came to a stop, the other guy immediately asked me how I was.
"I'm fine, keep going", I said.
My knee was super cut up, my elbow was pretty messed up, and my backs and ribs were very sore.
But, I got back on the bike, and gingerly kept riding along. I finally made it to the finish line, I think about 6th place for the day, and rode back to the house.
At the house, Will and Dicky were waiting. Dicky had already injured himself the day before and was forced out of the race. I showed them my wounds, then went to take a painful shower to clean up and evaluate what I needed to do next.
Dicky, who said he normally does not get stitches, said I probably needed stitches. Hearing that, I knew I probably had to do something.
|Too bad the numbing shot didn't really work for part of my knee|
I knew I needed some medical attention, so Will drove me to the race registration area. I found a nurse who was able to stitch me up right on the spot. I remember Will asking the nurse if he could take pictures while she stitched me, which was pretty funny. Clearly she let him.
I was pretty sore that night, and I barely slept at all. My elbow, which I elected not to get stitched, kept bleeding all night, and it was so painful that I couldn't find any comfortable position to sleep.
The next morning, I got dressed and lined up to start stage 4. Unfortunately, after finding it impossible to even hold the handlebars for even mild gravel trails, I made the tough decision to pull out of the race.
This was definitely not what I expected to happen, but I was still in Colorado, so I wanted to make the most of it and enjoy my time out there.
That day, I remember getting back to the house and seeing Dicky laying on the couch, drinking beer, and watching super loud 80s music videos on YouTube on the TV. Not a bad life, I thought. That night in the house, we basically watched non-stop 80s hair band music videos on the TV.
Oh, and we also watched a killer movie the one night, I think called "Maximum Overdrive".
The next day, Dicky and I began the "Sad Dadz" tour, which consisted of us driving to an aid station to watch the racers go by and then driving to the finish line. Oh, and look, a cool koozie advertising a website where you look up if anyone has died in your house. Someone brought those to the house to leave as a gift to the owners.
The other picture, of course, is Dicky's foray into the modeling universe.
The typical day at the Breck house was wake up, breakfast, ride to the race start, race, then ride back to the house. Then, once everyone was one, Dahn and a crew would head out for early happy hour margaritas and Mexican food.
I wasn't really too keen on eating at 4pm, so a lot of days I had lunch and then went out again later for dinner, which is where a legend was born. And of course, by legend, I mean the Legend of the Meat Master.
One of the nights Will and I got dinner was some burger place in downtown Breckenridge. I looked at the menu and ordered the "Meat Master", which was a giant, double burger with tons of toppings. I of course ate the whole thing, which must've been shocking/humorous for Will, because from then on, I was known as the Meat Master.
After getting back to the house and sharing the story, my name on the scoreboard was changed to Johnny Hamburgers.
One of the days after the race, Will and I drove to this place just outside of Breckenridge called "Blue Lake", which is a high elevation lake at the end of a long gravel road. Those are the pictures above, super scenic. It was also very windy, and it seemed like the most stereotypical Colorado view I could have imagined.
The main event of the race was of course the banquet after the final stage. We all drove to the banquet piled into Chrissy's Ford Transit van, and let me tell you, that vehicle was not really meant for 9 people. There was also an unfortunate video taken of me while in the back of the van, but we won't put that on here; what happens in Breck stays in Breck.
At the banquet itself, it was a mix of trying to eat enough bread and drink enough water to balance things out for me, and trying not to choke while laughing at what Dicky was doing the whole time.
Dicky (see left picture above) was throwing food at people at the banquet (like beans and such), and I remember one time he flung a green bean past Will and hit some lady in the back of the head.
The lady turned around and saw Will, and probably assumed that Will threw the food at her. The whole situation was hilarious, and it further proved that Dicky is the funniest person I know.
Some other things I won't mention on here happened as well, and at some point, the table next to us scolded us for being too loud. Our table, the singlespeed (plus Will & Jesu) table, was like the misbehaving table in the school lunchroom.
The picture above is the world-famous "flesh storm".
The shirtless male singlespeeders storm the female singlespeed podium and take a big group photo. I think every male singlespeeder participated (except one, how un-Rock and Roll of him). It's a really funny tradition, and don't worry, the female singlespeeder in this picture was totally fine with it (it's Chrissy, she stayed at the house with us).
Now for the main event, what everyone has been waiting for: the 2021 Colorado Arm Wrestling Championships.
|Montana goes down to Cinderbloch|
|Pahrs goes down to Cinderbloch|
After the banquet, everyone headed back to the house for a while before the over-21 crowd (I was 20) went out to the bars. We were thinking of doing an actual wrestling competition, and I think Dahn was confident he could make me submit very quickly in the driveway. Alas, that could be dangerous, so we settled for arm wrestling on the kitchen table.
As you can see, there was a clear champion: Cinderbloch (aka Rob). The only photographic evidence is of Rob beating Will, Dahn, and Montana, but rest assured that he also easily beat me and Dicky and probably Jesu.
|The only surprising thing about this victory was that it took so long|
Honorable mention (is anything about this really honorable though?) for Will who was able to beat a 52 year old man weighing about 130 pounds who had been drinking all day. Wow, big congrats. And it only took Will about a minute to beat him. Seriously, Dicky's wrists have superhuman strength.
Unfortunately, and I was contemplating whether or not to mention this, Will also beat me in arm wrestling. Now, I've got plenty of excuses, but Will has heard them all, so I'll just say he has an unfair advantage from wrangling goats.
But, like I said, champion Cinderbloch beats everyone, even the Goat Wrangler. I think Colleen in the background might have been worried about Will's safety in the picture below.
|Cinderbloch beats everyone|
The next morning, we packed up and started the long drive back to Pittsburgh. There was a switch in the driving arrangements, it was now me, Dahn, and Will in my car (Will had flown out for Leadville by himself).
Just as we got onto I-70, there was a clunking noise followed by Dahn yelling, "PULL OVER, THE BIKES ARE ON THE GROUND!"
It seems the bike rack had rattled loose or something, and it tilted over on the highway and was dragging on the ground. I pulled off the highway, and we got out to assess the damage.
Luckily, the bikes were fine, but the rack looked like it had been cheese-grated from the highway. We got the rack back on properly, and we were off.
It was a long drive. Very long. We convinced Dahn to get Olive Garden for dinner, and the next morning, the last funny thing of the trip happened at IHOP.
We were all waiting for our food to come, Dahn was drinking his orange juice, and he noticed a hair in his orange juice. "Hmm", he probably said.
Will and I looked at each other and expected Dahn to freak out at the waitress and get kicked out of the restaurant, but when the waitress came around, he was very polite and just got a new orange juice. I guess the long drive had taken all the fight out of Dahn.
Anyways, we made it back to the Burgh, dropped Will off at his house, then dropped Dahn off at his house, and then I drove the rest of the way to my apartment in State College to start classes at Penn State the next day.
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