July 15 2014, the Classic took on a new date slot moving from late September/October to July to avoid cancellation due to snow (like last years race) and to let riders enjoy more daylight and a warmer start. 2 out of 3 isn’t bad as there was still some snow on trail 403 supposedly that caused a last minute change in the course. I, for one, was fine with the trails north off Gothic left out. The brake smoking decent off 403 to Gothic road will wait for another classic. I did miss the ascent of Slate d’Huez though.

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This years starting field was relatively small compared to previous editions where a waiting list starts filling soon after the first 74 entrants have listed their intentions to commit to the Classic. The first 74 usually fills in February shortly after race date announcement, tentative or not. It’s that fun of a race. Many riders only attempt the first loop, it’s that hard.
This years race totaled ~108 miles +12500′ of climbing. I ended up getting 115 miles due to a few miscues.
My bike of choice for this year was my beautiful Black Sheep Phat Speedster SS

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The race starts at Brick Oven Pizzeria downtown CB. The 30-40 riders were dressed fairly light as the morning temps were in the upper 50s. Much nicer than previous years where temps have been as low as the mid 20s.

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My bottles packed with Hammer Perpetuem and HEED we rolled out of town to the first loop, Strand-Teocalli Ridge-Canal. I opted to take the first loop easy by riding along with another rider from Cheyenne on his first attempt at a Classic Epic.

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The first loop was a blast, big mountains, long climbs/descents, epic views, and big and little water crossings.

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if you zoom in you might just see Mike in the middle of the photo

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After the start of Teocalli, I pushed on knowing Mike would indeed finish the first loop. Racing down the sweet descent off Teo I came up on a rider with a torn sidewall at the bead. Life was going to be sucking for him. He was on a 26er, no spare tube, no sewing kit or anyway to patch it up to keep on riding. He had none of this stuff yet his pack was twice the size of mine. Go figure. At least it was all downhill to the road.
I completed the lap and said hi to Mike’s girlfriend, telling her he was doing great and that he could stop and enjoy the day (like so many others were doing). He already had an epic in the books as far as I could tell.
Perpetuem bottles and a few gels replenished, I headed out on the next loop with Dominic L. This guy has a motor that just runs forever. He just pedals on and hardly anything bothers him (from what I can tell). We take to the highway that leads us to an area I’ve wanted to ride at but have yet to, South Crested Butte (South CB for short). When we start up Cement Creek rd I bid adieu to Dom as I’m riding a singlespeed and uphill is much easier at my pace. The road goes on forever. I even get to see the leader, Kelly Magelky as he is rolling downhill enroute back to CB. Eventually I hit dirt and the road gets steeper. I come across a guy in a meticulously clean 4×4 that I move over for and wave by. But he just stops on the road and jumps out of the driver side. Uh-oh I think. Then he asks me if I’m in the Classic.
Relieved I reply yes, and he starts snapping photos. I wish I knew who it was because I’d like to get a copy of them pics. Another mile or so and I reach the top of Reno. There is a group of motos and a couple cyclists that aren’t in the Classic standing around. I ride forward to a trail sign that says Flag. That’s all I needed to go straight down an insane multi-use trail that drops a bunch of elevation. I rip it on my Fatbike eventually catching another rider. We rode together flying along the sweet singletrack. Eventually coming across a trail intersection. I had no gps track of the area and for whatever reason, incorrectly assumed we should continue downhill. A couple or so miles later he slashes a sidewall in a muddy crossing, his second flat of the day. A couple of moto riders come through a gate and we ask how far to the road. This is when we discover that we should not have continued downhill. He pulls out his map, and I do a quick assessment and realize our turn was “way back up there”. There wasn’t much I could do for him as my fat tube was not going to fit his 29er. He said he was ok and I pressed on back onto the course. Interesting was that I passed a sign indicating I was on course now and 6 miles from the road. Lies, all lies; it was 10 miles to the road and after the climb (it was turning slick from a slight precipitation that had been going on for bit now) there was a steep switchback decent that led to the biggest water crossing of the race. Thank God there was a rope to hold onto. As with several previous crossings, I removed my shoes and socks. It was pretty fast and the bike floated due to the 4″ tires, pulling me downstream. I was relieved when I finally got to the other side.
Shoes on, I motored down the descent to the highway back to CB.
Now the whole while I had only intended on riding the first 2 laps, but the conversation with Dom was that I have to finish. I was the only Singlespeeder. I still felt relatively good when I rolled up to my truck and decided that I would go on and finish. ~25 miles left and 3 hours of daylight, how hard could it be? The check-in even asked if I had lights. I did, but had figured I could ride the last loop w/out the need for them.
It started thundering and eventually drizzling as I made my way up the pass enroute to Dyke trail. I had ridden this loop in the past but in a group and was not remembering much after I turned onto the road to the lake. By now I had put on my rain jacket as the rain had increased. Encountering the lake I headed around the SW corner on the road looking for the trail. After some climbing on the road, I decided that I must have missed the TH and with the increasing rain and no lights decided it best to head home for the dnf. On the descent I came across Dom again. I flipped a U and asked if he knew where the trail was and if he had lights that I could follow. Yes on both, we proceeded back up from where I came…all the way. 100′ past where I had previously turned around was a TH sign showing Dyke trail. A couple expletives later I join Dom on the slick trail. So slick was the traIl at times that riding uphill was not possible and walking even less. Slog and cussing later we eventually made it to the road. The uphill to the pass was much longer than we had remembered. I was suffering a bit by this time. And was only thinking of getting over the pass, down the other side and getting warm. Shivering is not fun, especially when you have a 9 mile descent in the cold. We rolled into the Brick Oven as the last 2 finishers.
14 hours 43 minutes, 115 miles. I was shivering uncontrollably and needed warmth. Mike brings me a heavy jacket and someone from the Oven got me a hot chocolate. I eventually warmed up enough to have a beer and someone offered me his leftover pizza. Life was better now.

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My bike in dire need of a wash.
On Sunday, my dogs got full attention for their patience in letting me ride all day Saturday.

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We went on an easy ride after I washed the bike up to a beautiful cirque off Slate road. Paradise

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