Ulster Cycling News

Breck Epic Stage 3 – 66km 2200m ascent.

aa (2)Stage 3 was billed at the “Queen Stage” and would take us up over 3600m over French Pass and across the continental divide twice.  On top of the back issues I had picked up a chest infection from the inhaled dust on Stage 1 so decided to take this much bigger day as it came a supposed to trying to “race myself”.  The roll out at the start of Stage 3 was a good bit longer than the previous day which meant I got a good warm up before we turned off the tarmac road onto the dirt.  The plan for the day was to copy the locals and “soft pedal” up the hills saving my back, my lungs and to some extent my legs.


This plan went well as by the start of the hike-a-bike section up French Pass to the highest point of the day I was sitting in 2nd position overall.  Hike-a-biking at sea level isn’t really my thing and sure enough by about 3500m my oxygen deprived dust filled lungs were struggling and I sloooowly pushed up towards the summit, passed by 2 – 3 other women and greeted at the top by a Mr Elevated Legs handing out Skittles!  The oxygen deprived descent off the mountain was a bit sketchy to say the least but eventually we hit an open section of fast rocky descending to the second feed station of the day.  By this stage the weather had begun to turn with big black clouds overhead – we were forecast thunderstorms by 11am – and as I began the obligatory 5km ascent out of the feed area thunder cracked across the mountain above me like a huge cannon firing across the mountain range.  If this wasn’t enough motivation to keep chugging along then nothing would be!  I hoped Mark had got off the mountain pass before it had rolled in.   As I climbed back up towards the second ascent of the continental divide I passed 2nd placed open female (Emma Maaranen) and we chatted for a bit.   Emma had travelled from Oregan and was new to this altitude racing lark and we chatted for a while when she told me she was very impressed that someone in the 40+ category was riding so strong, I’m officially old!  I then trucked on up the hill.   Up over the continental divide one more time and we began a 10km super fast rooty twisty descent which ultimately turned into a crazy rock strewn puzzle to pick your way through.  Karen caught up and passed me again on the descent, these US girls can fairly haul downhill!  We finally hit the last feed station and it was again the obligatory 5km climb up out of the gulch (a stream channel) and on towards the finish line along a series of tight flowing bench cut singletrack sections which clung on to the contour of the mountains and along old mining cast flumes.  The final sting in the tail was where we had a road crossing where you heard the finish line compare within shouting distance only to be sent back out on a small 5km pure XC finish loop over some rocky singletrack which contained a few stinging uphill kicks.  Conor met me at the last road crossing, raced with me to the finish, and eventually after nearly 5hrs of riding I crossed the finish line after a relatively good day on the bike, Mark coming in not too much longer afterwards.  Day 3 done and dusted and another good win!



Ciara MacManus

Posted by Marian Lamb UCN : marianlamb@ulstercyclingnews.com

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