Breckenridge has it’s own version of the spring classics, except ours involves a little more than riding a road bike along some ancient cobblestones. The Imperial Challenge has been a mainstay for the past fifteen or so years. I use the race as a tune up for cycling season, a sort of gauge to see how fat and lazy I’ve gotten over the winter. Some years things don’t go so well, other years I’ve proven that I’ll survive another year of maxing out my heart rate. The Imperial Challenge starts off in town with a six or so mile bike ride, then you strap your skis on for an all out assult upwards to the 12,998 foot summit of peak eight, with over 3,500 feet ascending on the bike and skis. Then, just when you thought things were going to be easy, the leg burning, muslcle cramping, hardest descent of your life takes you back down to the base area of the ski resort for a finish.
This year was alittle different from out usual balmy mid-April days. A monster snow storm blew in a few days before the race shutting down highways and throwing down snow measured in feet. But like all things Breckenridge, the show had to go on. I felt comfortable and at ease the whole race, trying not to over do it at any point and blow up. The bike ride which takes place on dirt roads was a mixture of ice, mud, hardpack snow, and soft snow that threw many competitors off their bikes. I took it slow and relaxed, adding almost ten minutes to the typical bike ride pace. Then as we headed farther upward on skis, the weather and ability to see slowly diminished as you can see by parker’s race day photos. Visibility easily was fiftty feet or less. At the top I pulled the skins off the skis, tightened the boots up, plowed through the chunked up snow to the groomers, and finally to the finish line. I finished around 2 hours 10 minutes not bad considering the weather. My best time on a colorado picture perfect day was 1 hour 50 minutes. – Jason Kompf