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
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
Date: Aug. 10th-15th
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.
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.