Editor’s note: The 2018 Breck Epic mountain bike race is underway, running August 5-10, and we sent Spencer Powlison up to Breckenridge, Colorado, to cover the event from a rider’s eye view. In addition to daily updates from the race, this series of “Breck Epic Basics” will offer tips on how to handle the challenges of an event like Breck Epic — or any multi-day cycling trip or event you might plan to do.
There is nothing worse than sitting in your hotel room, the night before a big event, and realizing one key item — food, clothing, bike accessory — is sitting at home.
Planning ahead, making detailed packing lists, and thinking of every contingency is key to a successful six days at Breck Epic. With variable high-mountain weather, you need a wide array of clothing options. Since you’re racing 240 miles with about 40,000 feet of climbing, you’ll need to eat. A lot. And of course, all those rocky trails take a toll on bikes, so spare parts are essential in case something goes wrong.
For some specific thoughts on what essentials to pack for Breck Epic, we called up three-time winner Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon-Topeak) and Amy Beisel (Orange Seal), who was fourth in 2017, her first time at the race.
“Anytime I’m in the high country having warm gear is key. It’s very easy to look the optimist forecast — five days before, the weather looks great, but it’ll snow any month of the year in Summit County. You learn the hard way to bring what you need.
“I have a Houdini ultralight jacket from Patagonia. It’s a lifesaver. The hood actually goes over the helmet if you’re getting nailed by ice-cold rain or hail, you’ll be really glad to have something to shelter you.
“Also the starts are cold, because of thunder threat. Having a pair of over-shorts is one of the great things. I’ve taken this from the Euros. They’ll wear baggies to warm up. They’re really nice because you can ride around get some body warmth going.
“I always bring two pairs of shoes. For BC Bike Race, if you’re in the tent and you’ve done a rainy stage it’s not going to dry out for the next morning. Nothing stinks more than putting on wet shoes in the morning. [Todd] Wells used to always travel with his helmet, shoes, and one kit in his carry-on because if your luggage gets lost you can rent a bike.
“Extra tires. So what happens at these races is you get — in the case of Cape Epic 1,800 riders, BC 700 or so, Breck 500-700 — what happens is there’s a run on equipment. There’s very stocked bike shops there, but if it’s a tough race a lot of boney rocks, a lot of the fast-rolling xc tires get sold out.
“For stage races that I drive to I bring two bikes. If not a bike, then an extra set of wheels. When you come prepared it’s less stressed, you can have a much better time and enjoy your race. I change tires every couple days. I have that luxury being sponsored by Maxxis.
“Also, bring brake pads, bring chain, a chainring if you’re running a single — you can run a different size if you have a stage with a lot of climbing like Wheeler [stage 6 at Breck Epic].”
“I’ll definitely bring six kits, always a rain jacket, definitely a down puffy jacket for warm-up because it’s pretty cold in the mornings … arm-warmers, leg-warmers.
“I would definitely bring tubes, a lot of tubes and CO2s, and a toolkit for sure. I flatted three times in one stage last year. I sliced my tire and I ended up having to borrow a lot of CO2s and tubes from fellow racers. I’d recommend bringing at least 2 CO2s on every stage and the thickest sidewall tires you can have. I ran pretty thin last year and that was a big lesson learned.”
“I agree with all of Amy and Jeremiah’s points here. You might be wondering about nutrition and recovery gear — don’t worry, that’ll be covered in later editions of Breck Epic Basics, so stay tuned.
“When it comes to packing gear, I have to mention my handy Dynaplug tool. This tire plug is the quickest, most effective way to fix a tubeless tire puncture that I have found. There are other plug options out there as well. They work too, but none are as slick and quick as a Dynaplug.
“I’m also packing thermal gloves (I’ll put these in my drop bags for the aid stations), a GPS that I can load the routes onto — this time I’m using Lezyne’s new Mega C, tubeless tire sealant, a full wash kit for my bike, chain lube, rags, a repair stand, and a special beer to crack open after stage 6 to celebrate!”