I decided to sign up for the Breck 68 this year. I wasn’t originally planning on doing this one and had planned on doing the Front Range 40 in the Fort; but that one was postponed to the fall due to the fires we’ve had.
Since I’ve done the Leadville 100 multiple times, one of the first questions people ask is, “How does it (Breck 68) compare to Leadville?” If you want some measureable sort of stats, Breck 68 (really 70 miles) has an altitude gain of 8514 feet or 121.6 feet per mile of racing. Leadville 100 (really 103 miles) has an altitude gain of 11,142 feet or 103.2 feet per mile of racing. So, mile-for-mile, Breck has more climbing.
Know that elevation gains are based on barometric pressure readings, so others may have slightly different amounts of elevation gains for the events. The measures previously mentioned were for Leadville 2011 and Breck 68 in 2012.
Breck is held at elevations between 9,600 feet and roughly 11,437. Leadville begins at 10,200 and climbs to roughly 12,600. Leadville has some flat and rolling sections, Breck is either climbing or descending – no flats or rollers.
Leadville has nearly zero singletrack and is mostly fire, forest service or jeep roads. Breck is loaded with singletrack. While Leadville does require a certain minimum of mountain bike skills to safely navigate the course and not hold other riders up, those with limited mountain bike skills would be very unhappy at Breck. Breck has tree-lined singletrack; rough, rocky climbs and descents; stream crossings, narrow trails that are open and have exposed mountain slopes to one side; steep, loose climbs; steep and rocky descents; smooth singletrack that winds through the forest; riding in an old mining flume drainage and on top of another one - plus more. Breck has the sort of stuff that makes mountain bike riders smile and giggle uncontrollably – that is when they aren’t suffering.
There are any number of websites that attempt to quantify difficulty of courses by heart rate, power, suffer scores, etc. What none of them can easily quantify is the beating a body takes from navigating rocky, technical courses. My triceps were screaming for mercy on the last technical downhill.
In the simplest of words, the Breckenridge 68 course is more difficult than the Leadville 100 course and most certainly the Breckenridge 100 course is more difficult than the Leadville 100 course.
As I told someone yesterday, mountain bike courses are a matter of taste and preference – not a matter of “good” and “bad.” It’s similar to differing tastes in food. I love hot Mexican food and my friend doesn’t like it at all. It doesn’t mean either of us are good or bad, heroic or wimpy – just different preferences.
I enjoy both races and would not hesitate to either of them again.
Questions and discussion can be found on my Facebook page.
On a pre-ride adventure for Breck 68 I showed you bear claw marks in a previous post and below are a few more shots from the pre-ride. Exploring the mountains on a bike is such a joy ~
Sallie Barber mine shaft - or what's left of it.
I rang the bell and rode extra fast past the fireing range...
Mine shaft turned toilet at the Como general store.
Historic roundhouse at Como. From the informational board, "Hard-working D, SP&P locomotives could be serviced in either Denver or Como. Built in 1881 by Italian stonemasons, the Como Roundhouse originally housed six engine bays where engines could be locall be rebuilt and an iron turntable where engines could be turned around."
A view of Breckenridge ski area from Boreas Pass Road