Monday, August 28, 2023

Breck Epic 2023 Part 2: PARTY PARTY PARTY

Alright, so maybe it wasn't all party, but it was pretty dang fun.

Picking up where I left off, it was now time for stage three. This is the day I crashed on last time, so in the back of my head, I just wanted to finish this stage strong. There's nothing particularly crazy in terms of danger about this day, but still, I was getting in my own head. Luckily, all those feelings immediately go away when I put my leg over the bike on the start line.

The Pittsburgh (plus Ohio) singlespeed gang on Boreas Pass. One of the best memories ever.

I don't want to over-hype this stage, but to me, stage three is certainly the hardest day. I kept this in mind as we rolled out of the start line, and I did well managing my effort on the first long climb. It was mostly rideable with only a little hiking, which meant I stayed in good position going into the big climb up French Pass.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Breck Epic 2023: The Pre-Amble and First Stages

The Breck Epic has became one of the ultimate Pittsburgh singlespeed traditions. For years now - dating back to 2010 with Montana - singlespeeders from the 'Burgh have been pilgrimaging out to Breckenridge to suffer for six days of epic racing. I first went out in 2021, but a big crash on stage three forced me to pull out of the race with a DNF. It was one of my biggest regrets - especially since the crash was extremely stupid - so going back this year was particularly meaningful to me. As always, we had a fantastic group of people going out and staying in our AirBNB. I really mean that,  I look forward to hanging out with everyone just as much as I do racing.

Before I get started with Breck, I do want to briefly talk about the week leading up to the race. I know, I know, I tricked you with the title, but you're going to have to deal with a few paragraphs of general road-trip stuff before you get to the Breck stuff. Or you can just scroll down, it's all the same to me.

Race photo!

Friday, August 11, 2023

Durango With the Family

Unlike most of my road trips, this time I’m staying completely in one state: Colorado. After a few days in Salida, I was off to Alamosa (a little over an hour south) to meet up with my family. It was a nice change of pace to sleep in a hotel room and eat at a restaurant, and meeting up with my family halfway across the country is always fun.

The first real destination for the family trip was the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Zach and I were determined to do a ride from the park, so we set off on a dirt (well, actually, sand) road toward Medano Pass. It ended up being a lot more challenging than anticipated, and we had to hike quite a bit in the sand. After airing my tires down to about 10 or 12 psi, I was able to ride a little bit more, but there was still a lot of hiking. Thankfully, the road got more hard-packed as went along and we were able to ride most of it as we approached the pass itself. The road kicked up quite a bit – probably around 20% grade – and I had to briefly get off and walk. That being said, I surprised myself with how much I was able to ride, especially at nearly 10,000 feet elevation.

Patch of snow just below Rolling Pass, a good cover picture

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Thoughts From Boreas Pass Road

I was halfway up Boreas Pass Road, sitting on my cooler on the side of the road with my guitar in hand. A woman in a car came driving down the road from above and slowed down when she saw me. Long hair, a guitar, an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, and a dusty Subaru Outback with two bikes on the back: I was certainly a sight to behold.

The lady’s window was down, and she yelled out to me, in a friendly way, “you’re doing it right!”


I just smiled and said, “thank you”, and she continued her way down the pass.


It got me thinking, though, about how fortunate I am. As I write this now, I’m sitting on the side of Boreas Pass Road – perhaps a mile below where I was playing guitar – and staring out at vast mountains and the town of Breckenridge in their shadow. I’m lucky to be able to do this. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve saved up money, I’ve planned out these trips for months, but still, there’s a big part of me that realizes how out-of-the-ordinary my life has been these past few years.


My view from where I was writing

Of course, there’s always two sides to every coin. Most times when you see people out traveling – or biking – or whatever – you only see what they want you to see. You see the magnificent views, the pristine singletrack, and clear sailing ahead. What you don’t see is not taking a shower for a few days, not eating a meal at a restaurant in the same time, and spending nights camping off the sides of forest roads to save money on campsites. 


That’s not to downplay how much I’m enjoying the time I’m spending, and it's not to justify my life to anyone. I love those forest road campsites, and cooking ramen on a jet-boil in the evening is oddly satisfying. Even the ultimate dirtbag move, not showering for a few days, is something I’ve gotten used to and it’s become part of the routine. Now, trust me, the second I get a chance to shower, I take it. I even use soap, too. It’s not like I’m a dirty person (despite what my mom says), but when I’m out traveling, I’ve learned that I can sacrifice many comforts of civilized life to stretch my budget a little further, and the more I travel, the more I realize there are a lot of people with that same mindset.


This is all very situationally dependent. I’m in college (yes, still) and I save up as much money as possible during the school year so that I can travel in the summer. To me, money is limited, but in the summer, time isn’t. But as I said, it’s situationally dependent. When I get a job and have more responsibilities of adulthood, time won’t be quite as abundant. My hope, though, is that money might be a little bit less scarce. If that’s the case, I probably won’t be sleeping in my car at rest stops or eating tuna packs and tortillas for lunch. My hope is that even if time becomes more limited, having just a little bit more money can help pay for expediency. Instead of driving to California, maybe I’d fly there and rent a car. More expensive? Sure. But it saves time. I guess what I’m trying to say, and I’m telling myself this as much as I’m writing it for the reader, is that I feel confident that I will never let the feeling I have right now slip away.


Thursday, August 3, 2023

Rocky Mountain Riding in Salida

I got a late start to this road trip, and by late, I mean I think I pulled out of my driveway on Wednesday at 4:03 AM instead of my usual 3:59 AM start. Four whole minutes, tisk tisk. I've done the whole road trip thing enough times now to learn some patterns: the driving at the start before sunrise goes by fast, I get super tired right as the sun comes up, and then I get a second wind for most of the day. As the sun sets again in the evening, I begin searching for a rest stop to pull over at and sleep.

Blogger chooses first picture to be the thumbnail, and this is a pretty cool picture of Agate Creek Trail off of the Monarch Crest

This time, I made it all the way into central Kansas before pulling off at a rest stop to sleep. It was hot, and obviously my car doesn't have air conditioning when it's turned off, so I spent most of the night sweating on my foam sleeping pad in the back of my car. Oh well, I still contend it's better than a hotel room, because when I wake up, all I have to do is hop out of the back of the car, jump into the front seat, and start driving.