Sunday, July 5, 2009

Firecracker 50 Race Report

Race day brought beautiful skies, cool temps, and thousands of people lining the streets for the 4th of July parade through downtown Breckenridge. The race would lead off the parade at 11am. No butterflies today! Just thoughts of having fun and finishing the race in one piece.

The 40+ open women class had 12 starters, with some super fast local (and by local, I mean Colorado) women. I was tired, but mentally prepared for a day of suffering. I was looking at this race as part of the bigger picture. I was going to treat this like a final stage of the TransRockies.

It was supposed to be a neutral start, meaning STAYING behind the lead-out volunteer, with a speed of 10mph, until we turned left onto Boreas Pass Rd. Then the race would be on. However, about half the field took off and proceded to pass the lead-out person. I stayed behind, as I did not want to be penalized or DQ'd. Not being from here, I was unsure of the rules.

But after I saw the group ahead of me getting smaller and smaller, I decided to go around the neutral start person, just before we made the left onto the climb. I took it relatively easy on the 6 mile climb up to Baker's Tank, hoping that those in front of me would blow up. I slowly reeled in several and upon hitting the singletrack, was in 6th place.

The first bit of singletrack was pretty mellow and flat, but to me it felt like I was still climbing. I soon found out that racing at 10,000-11,500ft was a heck of a lot different than riding at that altitude. Everytime I tried to hit the gas a bit to punch it over the short climbs, I sputtered. Not liking that feeling, I stayed in the saddle and spun it out as I had no "mashing" ability at this elevation.

This was the first race where I was passed quite a bit on the climbs by the guys. After what seemed like an eternity, the doubletrack topped out at the highest point of the race. From there there was some descending down some washed out doubletrack. When it came to descending on the first bit of singletrack, Nightmare on Baldy, I was stuck behind those same guys, applying WAY too much brake. So frustrating ... but that's racing.

Once we popped out onto the Sally Barber mine dirt road descent, I was able to get around them and one woman in my class. So now I was in 5th. After this super fun and ridiculously fast descent, I began the climb up the French Gulch. It started out easy and on doubletrack, but soon turned into singletrack and was wicked steep, with lots of loose shaley rocks. I was able to climb all but the last 20 meters or so, having to dismount, when several guys in front of me bobbled.

After I topped out on this climb, I was treated to some flat to rolling singletrack, the Little French Flume. This was fun, but would have been funner at 2000ft. I was still having trouble tunring over the pedals at speed. After this bit of singletrack, the course went up and down until it brought us back to the dirt road climb back up to Sally Barber mine. It was here that I was passed by Melissa, so I was once again in 6th.

After the 1 mile climb up to the mine, it was pretty much downhill to the Start/Finish line. I had an absolute blast on this 3 mile descent, especially once it turned to singletrack, with its swoopy, flowy lines. Not too technical, but it did have its share of rocks and roots. The final bit of singletrack into Carter Park was like a dual slalom course with its high banking switchback turns. Yee haw!!!

I may have been sucking wind on the climbs, but at least I could have fun on the descents and just let it go!

I rolled through the Start/Finish line with a time of 2:31. I was only hoping to do as well on the second lap, but my body had different ideas ....

To be continued ... (got a plane to catch!)

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