Today’s stage at the Breck Epic was yes, Epic™. It was Epic™ for the usual reasons; big climbs, impressive views, not one but two 12,000 foot summits, but also and most importantly, a wedding. A lot of this would not be transpiring if not for this wedding. Our own Scott Williams and his partner and frequent contributor and Dirt Fest volunteer Jess Nelson picked today for their wedding. Today, after one of the steepest and most absurd starts to a bicycle race, Scott and Jess got hitched in the thin air of Wheelers Pass.
Before we move on, let’s get the formalities out of the way quickly. In the race for the overall things remained pretty much the same for what I could see. Keegan Swenson and Katerina Nash came flying up and over Wheelers Pass, and it made me wonder if they were hiking their bikes as much as the rest of us. Probably not, at any rate with tomorrow’s stage being the easiest of the week Nash and Swenson look set to take the overall for their respected UCI categories.
Today, as mentioned above, was the wedding day. I had one true task this week, and it was to be on top of Wheelers for the ceremony. Once again, I shoveled down breakfast and filled the camera bag with fresh batteries and fresh water and scurried off to beat the race to the summit. Mountain Road 9, it was simple, a jeep road to the top of a 12,000-foot peak. After another misleading route from Google maps (that’s twice you betrayed me this week) adding in an unnecessary 2-mile climb, I finally found my route and began the long slog to the top.
A truck was approaching heading up the climb, I got off and stuck my thumb out, not in parody but desperation. With the French Pass screw up only two days prior I was panicked that today was going to be a repeat with much more significant collateral damage. The truck blew by without even acknowledging my presence. Onward I pedaled. Again, a truck heading up the mountain, this time with bikes hanging off the tailgate. Bingo, my ticket to the top promptly. I dismounted to the side of the road, waved and stuck out my thumb — whoosh, right past, without the slightest bit of recognition.
With my fate accepted, I resumed pedaling and pedaling, and eventually, I reached the top. The leaders had just started coming through as I entered the convergence of mountain road 9 and Wheelers trail. With that, I waited for the wedding party to arrive. The party was made up of a collection of east coast single speeding fools. Fools yes, but fools with big hearts that ushered in the happy couple from the base of the climb to the summit.
Upon arriving at the summit of Wheelers, Richard (Dicky) Dillon conducted a brief and warming ceremony under blue skies while a host of volunteers and racers witnessed the union of Jess and Scott. If you were there, we saw you crying, and it’s ok, we all were.
With that, the newlyweds began their life together by completing another 16 miles of strenuous high mountain backcountry riding/hiking.
Tomorrow is Stage 6, and I’m going, to be honest with you, we don’t really care. Our Breck Epic was today and Epic it most certainly was. Sure, those of us with number plates will line up tomorrow, we may even try hard but tomorrow will be more about celebration and less about competition. We will celebrate the love of Scott and Jess, the sport of mountain biking and some of us, ( me) may celebrate the joy of sleeping past 5:30 am tomorrow.
Thank you Breck Epic for putting on such an incredible event and thank anyone that has followed along this week, we’ve had fun.