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Breck Epic: The Pro (Jeremiah Bishop) and The Super Mom (Wendy Skean)

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At this year’s inaugural Breck Epic, I got to talking with Wendy Skean and Jeremiah Bishop after our mandatory daily meetings following each stage of the Breck Epic.

They both had interesting takes on their race experience. Here’s what two very inspirational, very different, very similar riders had to say about 6 days of racing, training and having some fun.

How did it feel to get a standing ovation and come up on stage during the awards ceremony?
WENDY: I felt very honored and humbled. Every person there, racers, director Mike McCormack, and volunteers deserved a standing ovation.

How did it feel to get a standing on the second step for the last stage?
A little frustrated at first but proud of myself later. I don’t like to hold back but with the USA National Cross Country just 7 days later I needed to limit the damage to my legs and all I needed to wrap up the overall was a smooth race with no mechanicals. I am wiser than I used to be.


How many years have you been racing? and how old are you?
I started racing local cross country races in 1987. I turned 65 two days before the Epic.
JEREMIAH: Racing since 1992, 33 going on 13. I love my job!

How does it feel to be a hero / inspiration?
I don’t see myself as a hero. To me a hero overcomes fear to accomplish something. I hope I am a motivator. I want the ordinary person to realize they can accomplish big things if they keep trying.

In one sentence sum up your race experience.
The Breck Epic was a beautiful, tough, exhilerating, exciting and fun race that gave me a lifetime of memories.
JEREMIAH: Top of the World!

Which stage was the hardest for you?
The fifth day going over Wheeler Pass was the toughest. I had been over it in the Breck 100 three years earlier but I guess one forgets the pain. I didn’t think it would take me so long to get to the top. My total ride was 7:48
JEREMIAH: Surviving Wheeler and the last 10 miles of rocky rooted trail at the end of that day. I thought the stage would be shorter. Ha ha ha!

What were you biggest strengths for this race?
Experience and being acclimated to the altitude. We have an off grid stage race at home I have been doing for years called Tour de Burg and it’s tough. I have also competed in Trans Alps, Cape Epic and La Ruta. Stage races take special tactics and skills.

How did you train for this race?
I have an excellent coach, Kristen Dieffenbach, with Training Peaks Group, that I have worked with for six years. Wheni decided in the fall I was going to do the Epic everything focused on that. I rode 5 days a week and did strength training.
JEREMIAH: I have been doing more stage race training blocks where I hit it for 4-6 hours a day for 5 days in a row. To get ready for the 3 major stage races I had planned earlier this year I knew I would need to toughen up (Brek Epic ,Intermontian Challenge and La Ruta de Los Conquistadores Leadville 100). MonaVie/Cannondales tag line is “Epic Racing Around the World” I have to do a lot of super tough training live up to that! LOL

How much time did you spend out of the saddle and where?
We had just on nasty evil hike section on wheeler pass through ice cold bogs snow fields and up one head wall section at 12,000ft

You did the Firecracker 50 the day before the race, is that right? So this was Breck Epic+ for you!
JEREMIAH: It was EPIC! A true test. I thought it would kill me but I actually got better as the race progressed. The stage length of the epic stages where a little shorter than expected but in hindsight that was good. Next year will be harder!

How much did you have to push your bike during the Wheeler stage?
I didn’t want to know how long I had to push. It must have been over an hour. To keep myself going I counted steps to at least 100. Then I took a brief breather and started counting again.
JEREMIAH: I was able to ride more than Travis Brown and that gave me a gap. My Achilles felt like they where straining badly so I rode as much as possible! May jogged short stretches with my bike on my back or to my side for short 3-5 min stretches 20 minuets??

Did you clean Little French?
NO! I was gassed going flat out and trying to make time. But when you can’t see strait it makes balance tougher. I got off for 300 feet of it. Quite ride able section but tough!

How did you get across the snowfields?
The snowfield on Guyot was fun crossing. I kept one foot in the pedal and used to other to help slide. I walked across the snow fields on Wheeler.
JEREMIAH: I rode the one on French but it was sketchy and I almost lost it.

Did you ride HT or Suspension?
I rode a Turner full suspension bike.
JEREMIAH: I have a sick full suspension Cannondale Scalpel with Stan’s 7000 series wheels and a Kenda 2.1 Small Block tires.

How much does your bike weigh?
25.7 lbs
JEREMIAH: 20.5 with Kenda Karma tires! WHOO!!!

Spec it out for us:
I ride a 4 travel Turner with Fox RLT 100 fork, XTR components, Avid Juicy 7 brakes.
JEREMIAH: Well… The bike is totally a piece of art, one of a kind custom painted Cannondale Scalpel; frame custom stars and stripes paint scheme with custom anodized red lefty and dropouts cable stops linkage and lugs.

  • Power Tap 2.4 wireless power meter
  • Sram grip shift shifters and rear derailleur
  • Shimano 7800 road front derailleur
  • Kenda Tires
  • No Tubes.com wheels built by Wheelbuilder.com
  • Crank Brother 4 titanium pedals
  • K force handlebar
  • Lefty front suspension
  • Cannondale Scalpel frame custom stars and stripes paint scheme with customer anodized red lefty and dropouts cable stops linkage and lugs.
  • Fox rp23 rear shock.
  • Shimano 11-34 cassette.
  • Hologram cranks wit 29-42 tooth rings. (Cannnondale)
  • Ritchey Bar ends

Did you ride tubeless?
I have No Tubes American Classic wheelset with Panaracer Rampage tires and use No Tubes sealant.
JEREMIAH: Yes with No tubes.com tire sealant.

Bottles or Camelbak?
I used a Wingnut hydration pack for water only and a bottle for food.
JEREMIAH: Bottle for this one since the feed stations where frequent and hand ups where permitted.

What did you use for fuel during the race?
I only used Hammer Nutritions orange vanilla Perpetuem with a few squirts of Espresso Gel.
JEREMIAH: MonaVie energy, Cytomax and first endurance gel.

What was in your aid station bags?
I did not use aid station bags. I mixed enough Perpetuem for how long I expected to ride in one bottle.
JEREMIAH: Rain pants first aid kit, space blanket extra food, hat, rain jacket.

How long did you stop at the aid stations?
I stopped just long enough to get water and maybe lube a chain. Most were under 5 minutes.

Did you have a support crew?
I had a super support crew. My two sons, Jeff Wolfe of Salida, CO and Randy and Sheri Wolfe of Prescott Valley, Az. took excellent care of me. I’m a very lucky mom.
JEREMIAH: Yes just one of my teammate Brandon Cross was awesome he would hand me up my bottles and gel. He would also to the bike cleaning and repair after every stage. It was a great team effort.

How did you recover?
Immediately after each ride I drank Hammer’s Recoverite and then an hour later had Recoverite again. I have had some knee problems in the pastr so I iced my knees. I used The Stick to work out knots and had a few messages.
JEREMIAH: MonaVie, stretching and sleep!

What did you eat for breakfast and dinner?
I wanted to sleep as much as possible so didn’t have a big breakfast. I drank Perpetuem and gel at 7 am and then again just before the start. For dinner I had pasta and chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken and cheese and chicken wraps. It had to taste good and not be too dry. Later in the race I had a more difficult time eating real food.
JEREMIAH: MonaVie antioxidant drink. I would have oatmeal with flax oil eggs and bread jam. Cup of coffee for breakfast and dinner was mixed but mostly complex carbs and some protein.

Have any mechanicals?
I had no mechanicals the entire race.

Was this your longest race?
This was the longest race in mumber of days. I have raced various 100 milers in one day and many 24 hour races with up to 140 miles in 24 hours.
JEREMIAH: Cape Epic 2008 965k and 18,000 meters of climbing.

What song would you say describes the course?
I would say The Sound of Music best describes the course. The meadows and snow fields above treeling were breathtakinly beautiful.

What was your biggest mistake during this race if any?
The course was expertly marked. To go off trail one had to be absent minded. Well I was. After the last aid station on Guyot I had my head down and missed the markers. After climbing 45 minutes and coming to a Y with no markers I knew I made a big mistake. My concern was I knew they were pulling the markers as I was last. I fortunately found some motorcyclists who raced up the road to catch the sweep. Thank goodness they did and all ended well.
JEREMIAH: Going the wrong way at one of the intersections leading the stage but I didn’t get far before I ended up in a campsite.

The second running of the Breck Epic is scheduled for Aug 22-28, 2010, and the field limit is 250, they will have no problem filling this up. Get on it now! Wheeler stays, some of the stages get longer. YEW EFFIN’ HAW!

-Heidi Volpe

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