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  • Writer's pictureCaleb

Pikes Peak Apex Stage Race

It's been a long time since I have updated here! Without racing, I fell out of the habit of writing up race reports. I've been busy lately training and finishing up my final semester of college but I will get back to more regular updates here.

At the end of September, I flew to Colorado for the Pikes Peak Epic Stage race. Four days of rad racing in Colorado Spring.

Day 1 kicked off with a 45 minute time trial at a local trail system in town. Due to a pretty random staging order, I started in the middle of the field instead of with the fellow pro riders. This led to passing many lapped riders which was tricky on a tight and short course. Overall it was not too detrimental and I finished 20th overall.

On day two we started at the Garden of the Gods and went straight up a 3300ft gravel road climb to a reservoir at 9300ft above sea level, went around the reservoir on a single track and then traversed back across a gravel road finishing with another small climb. I basically blew myself up catastrophically midway up the climb. I failed to ride conservatively at altitude and I paid the price. I bled placings across the traverse to the reservoir and around the single track, but luckily regained some strength on the final climb and moved up 5-6 spots to finish 22nd. It was absolutely brutal and I was furious with myself for racing like an idiot. But, lessons learned!

Day three was a shorter but equally brutal start climb. We basically started at 6000ft of elevation and climbed 4500ft up to 10,500ft above sea level and then descended down. I tried very hard to not dig too deep, and it worked for a while. However, my body was likely not fully recovered from the day before and as we climbed higher and higher I bonked again. My sea-level adapted body just plain couldn't handle 10,000ft unfortunately! In the end, I was able to bring back a few spots on the descent but still finished way back in 28th.

Going into day four I needed to change up my mindset. I was just so disappointed and frustrated. My coach reminded me to smile, enjoy the ride, and do my best. My sister reminded me of all the hard work I did and that if the final day wasn't great, that was just fine and my hard work this year was not invalidated. Thankfully right from the gun things felt a little different. I was able to move up in the first two-track sections. Then as we hit the first climb I felt like I was actually racing. I moved up the entire 2000ft climb and was hovering outside the top ten. We ripped down the first descent and I moved into 11th, just behind the group fighting for the top four spots. I was thrilled to finally put together a solid result on the final day and to be nipping at the heels of the top mountain bikers in the country.

In the end, I finished 20th overall. I just lost too much time on the longer stages of day two and three to bring it back together on day four. But, it was only my second ever stage race and my first stage race at such high elevation. I learned a lot and that is what it is all about!

For an entertaining and in-depth look at how this race week played out, watch my vlog on it here!

Huge props to the race promoter for organizing such a safe and awesome event. Packet pickup was drive-through, masks were mandatory except while racing, and there were mandatory covid-19 screenings before every stage. Truly an impressively run event in terms of organization and quality. Apex is even more impressive since this was the inaugural year for the event and it was run during a pandemic.

Lastly thank you to my team and sponsors for their wonderful support throughout a difficult year. Thank you as well to the Sanders family in CO Spring for hosting me and supporting me all week. I truly could not have done it without them!

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