Endurance MTB Racing in CO. Namaste.

Colorado is a wondrous, happy place that many would argue is best explored by bike. [Editor's note: okay, okay, okaaaaaaay, so perhaps I did argue this fact once at a wedding reception. But the groom was clearly wrong. He was a runner.]

There are those who say that to truly get a sense of a trail, you cannot race it. That kind of overall speed and heightened awareness causes one to tune out of their surroundings. One of the main reasons some old-timey mountain bike purists get out there to begin with. On the other hand, we have the endurance junkies. They say that it's only after about 50 miles of pushing yourself to the limit that you can surrender completely to your surroundings and "be at one with the trail and your bike" (Namaste).

Below we have 3 major players of the CO Endurance MTB scene: the Bailey Hundo, the Leadville 100, and the Breck Epic. All three of these races are serious business. As in serious-serious. As in there are warnings at the top of each site and on the registration pages. As in there are lotteries and applications and field tests. I know several people that have competed in each of these. Most didn't even want to talk about it until 5-7 business days had passed post race. Sometimes 5-7 business weeks. Read below to find out why.

The Bailey Hundo
Date: June 14th
Miles: Just around 100 miles
Race description: The 2014 course is just under 100 miles with over 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. The first half is primarily single-track after 7 miles of dirt road to separate to riders before entering the Colorado Trail. After the descent to the river, the course has an asphalt stretch, then 40 more miles of dirt road crossing over Stoney Pass.
Tagline: "An Epic Race Making An Epic Difference"

The Leadville 100
Date: Aug. 9th
Miles: 100(ish)
Course description: This is it, the race of all races. One hundred miles across the high-altitude, extreme terrain of the Colorado Rockies, this event was created for only the most determined athletes. Starting at 10,152 feet and climbing to 12,424 feet, you’ll be challenged to catch your breath — while the views try to take it away.
Tagline: "You're better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can."-Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100

Breck Epic
Date: Aug. 10th-15th
Miles: 240
Course description: The Epic is composed of 6 BIG back-country loops each between 35 and 50 miles long. The event is unique in that it employs a cloverleaf format; each loop starts and finishes within a mile from downtown Breckenridge and utilizes the sprawling network of trails in both Summit and Park Counties. In general, the race is 240 miles long and ‘features’ roughly 40,000′ feet of vertical gain (and loss!)
Tagline: "The race is rad. The courses are beyond fun. The vibe? Mid-90′s mayhem."*
*I have to admit, I REALLY liked this website. It was fairly entertaining and humorous.

Annnnnnd don't forget about the little brothers and sisters:
Bailey Hundito (June 14th)
Breck Curious, stages 1-3 (Aug. 10th-12th)
Breck Curious, stages 4-6 (Aug. 13th-15th

If you are racing or have raced one of these in years passed, we'd LOVE to hear your thoughts. Are you an "old-timey mtb purist" or an "endurance junkie-namaste-er"? And what about those of you who have taken smaller bites--like the "Breck-Epic Curious" or this year's "Bailey Hunditio"? Does this distance leave you wanting for more? Caused you sign up for longer races? Or did it seal the deal and turn you into a sprint-distance triathlete? Regardless. To all who race these this summer. Good luck.

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4 Comments

I've raced all three (Breck 6

I've raced all three (Breck 6 day) several times. Breck 6 day and the Hundo are awesome races w/real "old timey" single track. Leadville -- virtually no single track to be found in 100 miles but worth doing once or possibly twice if you're close to one of your "buckle" goals. This year, I'm back for the Breck 6 day solo and the Hundo.

Forgot one.

Awesome list!

But I think you are missing a major one and that is the Breckenridge 100, which is going into it’s 11th year. This race crosses the continental divide three times with 13,719 feet of climbing and the cloverleaf design makes it easy for your support crew.

Thanks for the kind words,

Thanks for the kind words, John Bliss. You and Michelle are our kind of riders; loaded for bear with talent, but never losing sight of the fact that it's just a bike race (not a religion) and that basic manners are high atop the list of prerequisites.

Plus we have a standing no-questions-asked full refund policy up to 60 days out (and a no-fee transfer or deferral policy within 60 days). And we will almost never press federal charges against any of our riders who may (or may not) take issue with aforementioned policy, causing you to lose your job. Because, you know...we actually offer refunds if you can't make it. Or transfers. Or deferrals. Because why wouldn't you, really?

Plus yeah...the riding. Modesty aside? It's exceptional. And then there's the beer, the food, the parties, the swag, the aid station support...and the incredible people.

I've raced Breck Epic (twice) & Leadville (3 times)

I raced Leadville in 2000, 2001 and 2007, and the Breck epic in '12 and '13. I'm very much a back of the pack rider: my goal in almost every race I enter is to finish.

In my experience, Breck & Leadville are *wildly* different races in pretty much every way possible.

Leadville has I think changed culturally since the last time I raced it, but I'll never forget Ken giving me personal aid & encouragement at the last aid station before the Columbine Climb, and I'll never forget the incredible feeling of accomplishment riding up the false flat into town at the end of the race (or the disappointment the one year I dropped out). The course itself isn't fun, nor is it especially hard (modulo the altitude) in comparison to other 100s I've raced like the Creampuff or the SM100. When I raced it, the incredible part was the culture that Ken & Merilee engendered. Since they no longer run the race -- indeed, since it's now run by a corporation whose mission seems to be to maximize its profit -- I don't find it very compelling. I have heard it's very crowded. But again that's hearsay; the 3 times I've been there it's been great (with a max field size around 500, I believe).

The Breck Epic, though. Oh shit. It changed my life, both times. I've never been involved with a race whose entire organization is so singlemindedly focused on Doing the Right Thing. I didn't expect an ethics class as part of my riding-my-bike-and-drinking-beer week in August but holy crap, watching MikeMac do his thing makes you want to be a better person. And the course is absolutely mind-blowingly awesome. There are times when you will hate your bike and hate yourself for being on your bike but then you get a downhill like the one on stage 2 and you start thinking you should quit your job and move yourself and your family and your bikes and your families' bikes to a shack somewhere near Breck so you can just do that shit *all the time*. There are other good things too, like the sense of camaraderie you get by being around the same group of people in the race for 6 days straight -- maybe this happens further up in the field too, but at the back everyone wants to see everyone else do well and finish and have fun. The whole race becomes an amazing community and a really powerful thing and both times I've done it, I've been simultaneously exhilarated to finish and wishing it would go on forever.

No clue on Bailey Hundo but people I trust love it, and MikeMac's running it, so I'm signed up for it this year. Look for me; I'll probably be the slow dude at the back grinning ear-to-ear.