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How I Roll… Breck Epic’s Founder Mike McCormack

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The Breck Epic is a 6-day stage race running July 5-10 in the sprawling backcountry of Colorado.  Starting with a 10-mile time trial on day one, riders then spend 4 to 8 hours in the saddle each day on trails that are mostly above 10,000 feet.  They’ll cover about 200 miles and climb almost 40,000 total feet, which founder Mike McCormack warns may sound short, but don’t kid yourself, this race will…well, we’ll let him explain in his ever-so-eloquent tone.

In our first guest-written interview, courtesy of avid cyclist and all around outdoorsy person Heidi Volpe from Outside Magazine, here’s what Mike has in store for you…

BIKERUMOR: In one sentence describe what do you want the Breck Epic to be, a premiere US stage race?

MIKE: I don’t want to start out all John Tesh-y, but I hope the potent cocktail of good organization, great courses and amazing riding creates a cool shared experience vibe. And I hope that I ordered enough crappers. Whoops, that’s 2 sentences. Now 3. And there’s 4? Dammit!

Breck in July is generally 75 degrees, sunny and boasts about 10% humidity – fantastic conditions for riding. I think that within a few years we’ll be one of a number of good races in the US, and hopefully regarded as a favorite. There’s something cool and vibey about mountain towns, and Breck’s got that in spades. Locals on townies. Amazing restaurants. Surly lifties (but that’s just winter!). Our community, despite its resort town status is very real, very genuine, very down-to-earth. I think it’s a great experience for a visiting rider.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a first year event.  All of the sweet pictures after the break are from trails in the Breckenridge area and represent the trails and riding you’ll be racing at the event.  Click on any image to enlarge.)


Breck Epic founder Mike scouts some trails.
Breck Epic founder Mike McCormack scouts some trails.

BIKERUMOR: Wasn’t AMC the first one?


MIKE: Yeah, The AMC was the first one. That’s Tom and Frosty’s deal-io and from what I hear, those guys are doing a great job. Not that that’s a surprise – they’re two of the most competent event guys I know.

As far as the field goes, we’re international. We’ve received confirmations from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, France, the UK and our neighbor to the north, Canadia.

BIKERUMOR: It’s the same weekend as FF50 because you are already set up, yes?

MIKE: Hmmm. No, not really. The Firecracker used to be my baby (along with my then business partner Jeff,) but I moved away from Breck for a few years several years back and he and I dissolved our partnership. I think he still owes me the buck that I sold my half of the business to him for. We’re starting on the same weekend because Colorado is hosting USAC Mountain Bike Nationals at SolVista on July 17-20. If we went a week later we’d overlap by two days.

The summer schedule’s pretty crowded here in Colorado – we hope that in subsequent years we can give both the F50 and Nats a little more breathing room (as well as find some of our own.)

BIKERUMOR: Since they are local trails are you gonna get lynched by the community for blowing the stash?

MIKE: No – the routes are all commonly used – there aren’t a lot of secrets out there. And to tell you the truth, your game really needs to be up to speed to ride that terrain at this altitude, so we’re not expecting a mad rush of tourists decked out with Wal-Mart specials getting up into our groceries. Plus, once the course markers are taken down a lot of that stuff will be really hard to find. I live here and still get lost. But that’s another story…


BIKERUMOR: Why 6 days? why not 4 or 7?

MIKE: Well, we sort of wanted to not add to the existing craziness of the 4th of July weekend, so we’re starting on Sunday afternoon. Then we looked at what we thought were kick-ass big loop rides and came up with 5. There are infinite variations, but these are the 5 main loops out of Breck that you go ride with your buds when you’ve got a bad attitude and 6 hours to kill.

BIKERUMOR: Since it’s 6 days and a clover leaf how my over lap is there or are you doing a 6 leaf clover? Is that an Irish thing?

MIKE: It always comes back to that, doesn’t it? Somebody always got to play the Irish card. LOL – no, not much overlap at all. I think that we have two sections of trail (maybe three) that we use twice, and in those cases we’re running in opposite directions.


BIKERUMOR: Are you expecting it to fill up? Is there a rider limit?

MIKE: I think that we will fill. We’re off to a strong start and we represent a sizable value, especially if you’re coming from the US. The USFS will dictate the rider limit and that’s still to be determined.

BIKERUMOR: You think Tinker and Eatough will show?

MIKE: Dunno. My guess would be that since Trek supports the BC Bike Race that he’ll go there. Tinker? We’ll see. Our stuff in Breck has always been more about the lunch-pail racer. We’re offering a decent purse, but I’d be more that happy to see one of my neighbors win it. I’d be very happy to see Josh Tostado toe the line and if he does, he’s going to be the favorite no matter who shows up. He’s that fast and these are the woods where he keeps his stills.


BIKERUMOR: The stages are about 30+ miles or so would you say it’s more XC then endurance and are we expected to take in the views? I know they are back-to-back but the stages seem short…what gives? And, yeah I know, 6 days, so I better be careful what I am asking.

MIKE: The shortest stage is a bit more than 30. Probably 35. The longest is just under 50. At first glance, it does look short compared to BC and TR, but there are a couple of things to consider;

  • almost all of the course is above 10,000 feet in elevation
  • there’s very little road – you’re going to be mountain biking on high-mineral-content soil. You will feel it.
  • that 30 mile sweetheart you’re talking about? You’re gonna be cussing like a long-haul trucker with Tourette’s for half of that baby. Guaranteed.


BIKERUMOR: Are the stages short b/c everyone is gonna get their ass kicked at altitude? Those that are a sea dwellers anyway?

MIKE: Everyone will get their asses kicked, sea dwellers or not. People are going to be burning matches out there. I showed Josh the course out of concern for all of the above and do you wanna know what one of the fastest ultra-endurance guys in the country said? “DUDE! That’s BRUTAL!”

BIKERUMOR: Is there an after party?

MIKE: Bitch, please. Is there an after party. What kind of question is that?

There’s a huge after party in downtown Breck after the final stage. In addition to that, we’ll be showing the tour each night with the help of Subaru and their massive inflatable party tent replete with big screen TV, sound system and lounge chairs. We’re lining up a few special Colorado-based vendors to have a theme night each evening during social hour. So far we’ve got Ice Cream Social, Sushi, Pizza and my personal favorite, “The Santa Cruz Sausage Party.”

“Is there an after party?” C’mon.


PHOTO CREDITS: All racing and riding shots are from Doran Liam.  The shots of Mike’s rear end riding riding through lots of yellow trees are from Jack Affleck, who is likely unrelated to Ben Afleck since they spell their last names differently.

FOOTNOTE: If you’re headed that way, Mike recommends a 6″ travel, fairly light all-mountain bike for riding the course and enjoying it.  Pro’s could race it on a 3″ to 4″ travel XC bike or even a hardtail if they feel like it.

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15 years ago

The beauty of competent journalism is that properly applied, it can sew a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Which in this case means, taking all of my drivel and editing it into something cohesive, making me sound slightly less dumb that I actually am.

I’m going to show this to my mom.

Thanks Heidi and Tyler – hope to see you guys soon. And thanks to Liam for the kick-ass Firecracker 50 shots. And Jack Affleck for the spectacular shots of my ass (Dude, what’s with that lens? Is that what my onion really looks like?)


15 years ago

…and that’s “Liam Doran,” not Doran Liam. Sorry bud. History suggests that any mistakes may be mine, not the medium’s.


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