Breck 100 turns lucky 13 years old with return to National Ultra Endurance series | SummitDaily.com

Breck 100 turns lucky 13 years old with return to National Ultra Endurance series

If Thane Wright didn't know any better, he'd think he was marking a mountain bike course in British Columbia: lush trees, impossibly green slopes, neon wildflowers and serene summits as far as the eye can see.

"The trails are in phenomenal condition right now," said Wright, an organizer for this weekend's Breck 100 mountain bike race, after he spent a few days riding all around Breckenridge to mark loops for the annual tour of masochism. "I was marking loop three — our hidden gem on the Gold Dust Trail — and that one drops into Park County. … It's wild to see the way the wildflowers have been popping the past couple of weeks."

Not like the riders will notice. Beginning around dawn today and continuing until 10 a.m., roughly 300 mountain bikers from across the globe will leave the Carter Park start line in downtown Breckenridge for upwards of 10 hours of pedaling on Summit County's best singletrack: Wheeler Pass, Peaks Trail, the Colorado Trail, the French Gulch system, Gold Dust Trail. By the time solo riders in the 100-mile event reach the back half of loop three late this afternoon — when burbling streams and towering aspens seem worlds apart from the high-alpine fields of Wheeler Pass at sunrise — they'll be about 85 miles, 10,600 vertical feet and eight hours (or more) into the race.

Wildflowers and dreams of B.C. will be the last thing on their minds.

“Josh Tostado … is always a favorite. He’s got a name on the circuit

— he’s known as The Strong Man from Colorado. He’s in his element out there and I’m sure he’ll be one of the top racers, as always.”Ryan OdellNational Ultra Endurance series director

"I think I want to do it just because it is the big one," said Marlee Dixon, a Fairplay local and two-time defending Firecracker 50 champ, who is competing in the full 100-mile event for the first time. "It'll be more challenging. I wasn't really in need of a challenge, but this is such a staple in this town. You have the Firecracker, the Breck Epic and the Breck 100, and now was time for me to give it a try."

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Back in the series

Dixon joins a relatively small field of pro women's riders for the solo Breck 100, which is one of several distances this weekend. There are also 32-mile and 68-mile events for solo and team riders, plus a three-person 100-mile relay. The 35-year-old Breckenridge Brewery employee has competed in the 68-mile version before — it features everything except the early morning ride from Wheeler Pass to Copper Mountain and back on the Peaks Trail — but said she's been feeling strong this year, thanks in part to the Firecracker 50 win and a few 12-hour events earlier this summer, not to mention countless hours on the same trails she'll ride for the Breck 100.

"I usually try to not worry about who I'm with," Dixon said of the women's pro field, which includes Jordan Salman of North Carolina and Parker Tyler of Utah. "It's such a long race and you really don't know what will happen out there, so best not to stress about anyone else. You just have to do your best."

Ryan Odell couldn't agree more. The director for the National Ultra Endurance series has ridden in the solo 100-miler four times — and never finished. One year, he missed the 4:30 p.m. cutoff at the top of Boreas Pass by just five minutes.

"This is on my bucket list," said Odell, who admitted he's finished other 100 milers that look harder on paper. "You blow out a sidewall or you don't make the 4:30 cutoff at Boreas Pass, you're done. … I've never failed to complete a race, but I just need to finish that thing already. There's just something about Breck."

After a few seasons away, the Breck 100 returns to the NUE series roster this season and both Odell and Wright are happy to have it back. It's one of only two 100-mile series events in Colorado, and as Odell knows all too well, it's by far one of the toughest.

"Because of the elevation, I would say that this is one of, if not the most, difficult race in the series," Odell said. "I mean, you start at 9,000 feet and cross the Continental Divide three times. For some of the East Coast and Midwest riders, and even some guys from the West Coast, this is a really tough race."

Mr. Breck 100

That probably won't stop Mr. Breck 100 himself, Josh Tostado, from putting on a show. He's the most decorated men's solo champion in event history with seven victories, but this year he's got some stiff competition, with riders coming from as far as Hawaii to challenge his crown.

"Josh Tostado … is always a favorite," Odell said. "He's got a name on the circuit — he's known as The Strong Man from Colorado. He's in his element out there and I'm sure he'll be one of the top racers, as always."

That is, if the elements don't get in the way. Dixon is looking forward to just about every loop on the race, but she's not looking forward to a forecast that calls for a 90 percent chance of rain. It means cold hands after long, technical descents, and that's just about the only thing that makes her nervous.

"If your hands get cold and you can't shift well, and your bike gets muddy, that makes me nervous," Dixon said. "On this race, you actually need to have mountain bike skills to do well. You're not just grinding it out on a fire road."

2017 Breck 100

What: An ultra-endurance mountain bike race, with divisions for 32, 68 and 100-mile rides on Wheeler Pass, Boreas Pass, the Colorado Trail and other classic routes

When: Saturday, July 29 at sunrise

Where: Carter Park start and finish, 300 South High Street in Breckenridge

Cost: $85-$300 depending on distance

On-site registration for the 32-mile and 68-mile races (solo and team) is available at Carter Park on race day before 9 a.m. All loops feature aid stations every 10 miles and all riders in the 68-mile and 100-mile courses pass through Carter Park between each race loop. First finishers in the full solo event are expected to reach the finish around 3-4 p.m. For more info on the race, including full maps and racer info, see the Breck 100 tab at WarriorsCycling.com.

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Breck 100 trail closures

You can’t hold a 100-mile bike race without closing a few trails. Below is a list of routes that will shut down temporarily for The Breck 100 Mountain Bike Challenge on July 29. Call 970-401-1422 with questions.

6:30-9:30 a.m. — Wheeler Trail from Peak 9 to Copper Mountain

7:30-10 a.m. — Peaks Trail

8:30-11:30 a.m. — Moonstone/Barney Flow trails above Carter Park

9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — American Gulch Road to Swan River

9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Colorado Trail from Tiger Dredge trailhead east to West Ridge and North Fork Road

10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Side Door, Minnie Mine and X10U8 in French Gulch

Noon to 4 p.m. — Blue River Trail/Indiana Creek Road

Noon to 5 p.m. — Gold Dust Trail

1:30-7:30 p.m. — Bakers Tank Trail

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