Breck Epic diary: The sweet cologne of a competitor went to my head

What I learned from Stage 1: Keeping a positive attitude and losing your mind are NOT so far apart

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Sarah Musick will be chronicling her experiences of her first mountain bike stage race at the 2012 Breck Epic. Check back for her updates.

I crawl out of a perfectly comfortable, warm, bed. It’s early. I stuff gobs of carbs into my chops and hustle down to the staging area. The morning air in Breckenridge, CO is brisk and alluring. Hundreds of others join me. It’s time to play bikes ALL WEEK LONG!

The atmosphere at the opening stage is pretty relaxed for a race start. It seems everyone knows this is but one morning in a long line of mornings. Still, race jitters are buzzing – doing their thing. Sizing up the competition. Guessing and second guessing, as compared to the post-race fist bumps and high fives.

All is good as soon as we are rolling.

Everything except that the competition is rolling faster than me.

There are four singlespeed women racing the 6-day, of which I am one.

I knew going into the event that I might well be big number four in the line-up and I had an awful lot of time to think about that on today’s stage.

This is mountain bike stage racing, though, and lots of things can happen. I was counting on some of them happening to my competition.

A few scenarios that came to my crazy mind while I was chasing all three of those fast ladies today were as follows (please note I was at race pace at altitude):
1) One of them might be pregnant and go into labor (with so much climbing)
2) One could be on a new cardboard technology frame that dissolves when wet
3) Maaaaybe one is made of Liquorice and melts in the heat
4) One has Hepatitis C from the numerous tattoos singlespeeders have and it flares up in the middle of the stage

I swear I had fond thoughts too.

I’d like to say my thoughts recovered from here and moved into a more sane, strategic place.  They didn’t.  I found myself riding alone after a few climbs and descents shook apart the field.

Had I announced my thoughts aloud, they would have sounded like this:

Xena Warrior Princess would have been badass on a bike.  I’m Biking Xena with medal armor and if I crash it will cut off my left arm.

And… Sour Patch Kids must be related to Cabbage Patch Kids originally as an eat-your-greens-to-get-your-candy type of tactic with kids in the 70s.

This guy in front of me has to be Swiss, he smells so good, like Swiss cologne.

All farts smell worse at altitude.  All farts go to heaven.

Rabbits are cute but if I got stuck in this wilderness I’d consider eating one.

How many calories are in a bite of banana.  I had three bites.  Oh no! My calories are off.  I wish I had a pack of Sour Patch Kids.  Or the worms.  I love the sour worms.

[Brakes squeal] Brakes, this is your destiny.  You could have been built on a recreational bike that sits under some kook’s deck and has no fulfilment.  Stop screaming.

Someone needs to create a company called “Spare Pair of Legs” and they need to sponsor the Yeti Betis.

And on, and on, and on…..

Then I started talking out loud.  I know, I know, once a person starts talking out loud you are required by society to disregard her.  I fully understand.  But, it was when I started making up a song, I titled, Your Mom and singing it that I began to grow concerned for myself (and how hard I was racing).

What I learned from Stage 1:

-Racing alone is rarely better than staying with others (obvious reminder).

-Portuguese men smell yummy when they race (turns out the duo weren’t Swiss).  Also, Portuguese men come from “the sealevel” which sounds like a terrible place, but with really nice people.

-Keeping a positive attitude and losing your mind are NOT so far apart.

-You can finish seconds behind someone and actually not see her the whole race so never stop pushing.

-Former pros turned singlespeeders remain very, very fast.

-Hats off to the Breck Epic staff.  I haven’t had a single interaction that wasn’t stellar.  I appreciate that having worked a ton of races myself this season.

And a bonus pointer from a teammate of mine, Amy. “When you’re struggling, look up,” was her advice. I looked up so many times today and every time I was smitten by the grandeur all around me.  These Rocky Mountains are spectacular feats themselves and being on them all day is goodness.

I finished Stage 1 fourth out of four singlespeed women.  I shared the same minute 4:55 with the third-place finisher.  I’m still in the game!

Musick started mountain biking in denim shorts one New Mexican summer a decade ago. After three years as the only girl on the college mountain bike team she moved from her home state of Virginia to the Rocky Mountains. Colorado changes people. She was schooled and mentored by top pro riders on Colorado Springs group rides. She became instantly captivated and in 2007 won the Colorado State Series. Currently she rides and races with the YetiBeti Women’s Mountain Bike Team, works at Carmichael Training Systems, and is a part of start-up company Enduro Bites, making her days full of freakin’ fast peps. Musick writes about her struggle with depression and the therapy she finds on the bike. She’s a badass (first year) singlespeeder who’s not taking prisoners in the race of life. Thanks to sponsors Stan’s NoTubes, Yeti Cycles, Ergon, Twin Six, Golden Bike Shop, Noosa, Bulumu, White Girl Salsa, Cooper Door Coffee, Honey Stinger, Optic Nerve

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