Sonya racing Stage 3 of the Breck Epic. Photo from Devon Balet

Stage 3 and 4 are the over the hump stages. There are moments where you think, “Really? I have to do this for 3 more days?” You betcha…and what else would I rather be doing? For the most part, not a whole lot!!

Sonya Warm Up Smile Pre Sufferfest Warming up this morning(after copious amounts of coffee), I thought my legs would give me trouble. I couldn’t do any efforts so I decided to start slow. Fortunately, I started slower and steady, and picked up the pace with the increase in mileage. (Photo by Bill Hade) My legs even felt strong despite my warm up thoughts.  One thing is certain, I’m not struggling in the mornings like I was last year.  I recall having nausea, bathroom problems, trouble eating, and thick mucus issues last year.  Improvement!

My plan was to start drilling it on the hike-a-bike up to French Pass, and that I did.  I was even running at the top – thank you CTR training.  I put my head down and charged the climb up to Georgia Pass and after the climb and descent, had opened at least a 10 minute gap on 2nd place.

The American Gulch climb went well.  I ended up riding with Jordan Carr for a part of the climb and he mentioned how he had flatted and wished he had had my tires.  Moments later on the descent, disaster struck an almost perfect execution of the day (well… other than a grumpy drive train stopping me in my tire tracks on multiple occasions to get off the bike and get the chain back where it needed to be).  Raging down what should have been a quick descent (and a few rollers) to a Stage 3 victory, the air gushed out of my tire.  In disbelief, I looked down.  Flat rear tire.  I stopped and used my Big Air to fill the tire.  I saw a small slit in the sidewall and hoped the Stans would hold it and jumped back on to keep going.  My tire was flat again.  This time, I took my wheel off my bike and used the rest of my big air and shook the tire horizontally.  The hole sealed.  YES!  I still did not see 2nd place.  I put the wheel back in and hopped back on the descent.  Within 20 seconds, my tire was flat.  I was frustrated and admittedly rode the rim for another 10 seconds.

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