The captain of our Bingham Cyclery Peak Fasteners Team, Bob Saffell gives us some insight into what goes on to train for the Breck Epic. His words are below!
On August 5 th at 8:30 am I will start my 5th Breck Epic. The Breck Epic is 6 days of high
elevation mountain bike racing. The 6 stages range from 24 to 44 miles long with
elevation gain of 5-6,000 feet per stage (the last stage only has 3500 feet.) The amount of
climbing is exaggerated by the fact that every stage start at over 10,000 feet and most go
up to and above 12,000 feet. The air up there, it is thin. I race a lot, endurance and XC.
One-day events are relatively easy to prepare for, in fact, sometimes you can even fake
your way through a 50 mile MTB event. 6 of those in a row, not so much. Preparation is
Below are the key things for me to prepare for this undertaking
Training for me is easy, well, riding my bike is easy, I love riding singletrack, I prefer
hand cut, remote, steep and dumb. I prefer 4+ hour rides to escape the daily grind. All of
these things are perfect for stage race prep. I do XC races, weekend and mid week for the
hard efforts and community. I also do a whole bunch of prescribed rides and intervals.
There are volumes written on how to train for such events, I prefer to use a coach, who
knows me, my goals, limiters, numbers, way better than any book or forum can. I have
worked with Ben for 4-5 years. He knows all those things about my work travel limiters,
strengths, my weaknesses and motivations. Committing the time, money and energy
required for the 6 day stage race makes is a no brainer for me to use a coach. Another
great option for coaching is Sarah K. As the race gets closer I stack up 4+ hour days in a
row, with a few less hard intervals and more tempo type intervals. I do what I can to ride
close to 10k, which means up and over the Wasatch a few times per ride, which is
Rest, it seems so simple, as a masters racer who has always been a night owl, this one has
been hard for me. But without rest, even the fastest in the world crack. I embrace the rest
days, when given the option to spin for 45 minutes or rest, I choose rest 9 out of 10 times.
I ride 5-6 days a week otherwise and with work, life and everything else, rest is precious.
Rest is where my body rebuilds and gets stronger. Rest has always been my biggest
challenge, but I think I may be closer to succeeding with it than ever. I also invested in
some Elevated Legs this year. They are amazing.
“You are what you eat” Ima eat some cookies, so yeah, fueling for optimal performance
means, for me, eating clean and purposeful. The calories I eat need to have meaning for
my goals. As I age, the consequences of that full package of Oreos become more real. My
waste line won’t notice, but my Cardio Vascular system will. The biggest thing I have
learned over the years is to eat a recovery substance of some sort within 30 minutes of a
workout. Your own mixture of protein/carbs will vary, but getting that fuel in you post
effort will work wonders. For ride/race nutrition I use a mix of solid and liquid fuel.
CarboRocket has various strengths of beverage mix, it is my go to in bottles. Trail
Truffles is a tasty option for training rides. Everyone’s gut is different, so experiment
with fuel during training and be willing to adjust as an event goes on.
Equipment. This could go on for days. I have the perfect bike for the upcoming stage
race. The 2018 S-Works Epic. I have added a dropper post and a Rotor power meter
crank and oval chain ring. The bike is light, dual suspension, 2 bottle cages, swat boxed
and capable of handling all that Breckinridge will throw at me. The power meter has
changed my training this year, more focused and solid. I actually showed me I was not
racing as hard as I could. Weird. IN addition to the bike, clothing is critical. August at
above 10k can bee sunny and warm to blizzard like conditions in seconds. When people
ask me what to pack for the race I say bring everything. I’m not kidding. Luckily DNA
Cycling has provided us with some all weather options, merino jersey, fleece knickers,
jackets and vests, I have also invested in a very nice specialized rain jacket, This one will
be at the last aid station everyday for worst case scenario weather.
The Breck Epic has only a few rules, rule #1 is critical, but Rule #1 for me personally is
“If you aren’t having fun you are doing it wrong.” Whether it is training, racing, resting,
etc… if it is not fun, why would I do it. I am currently reading the book Endure: Mind,
Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, I don’t have to be
reminded that my chosen passion of suffering is not, um, normal, but, really, isn’t it?