It’s a little after 6am and the sun is shining way up on the mountain peaks in Breckenridge, Colorado. All I can hear is the creek rushing and the campfire crackling. It’s the day after the race and I feel pretty good… even better now that the fire is nice and hot. It’s Tuesday, the 5th of July and I’ve got the day off from work! What a great way to start the day; chillin’ with my dogs beside the fire, watching fish jump in the creek, and writing down some thoughts from the weekend on a pizza box.
Yesterday was gnarly! It started off by sending Lauren and LeeAnn off to their early Independence Day 10k. I got up and started the fire, while Erin made breakfast. Ken, Collin and I were racing at 9:30 so we headed in from camp around 8. We had ample time to get kitted up and hit the coffee shop, where some generous customers of Golden Bike Shop bought me a coffee! Thanks Trey and Heidi. We met up with the girls right after they finished their 10k! Congrats to Lauren on her 4th place in the overall womens race!
Now I was all set for a big day on the bike. This year the Firecracker 50 turned into 54 miles due to the late and heavy snowfall that was still covering some of the high elevation sections. Basically, they added mileage and subtracted climbing. The initial climb is about 6 miles of road, paved and dirt. We start in downtown Breck with a roll out that kicks off the 4th of July parade! On the climb, the leaders wasted no time driving the pace high. It was a little too fast for me. Right before we hit the single track there was a surge and I was feeling good, so I countered it and passed maybe 6 guys and was in 3rd. I went way too hard and paid for it. As soon as I established my position and climbed the first section of trail, my stomach started to turn. I slowed down and tried to hold it in, but couldn’t. I yakked. Everything I had eaten in preparation for a 4 hour bike race was now on the side of the trail. I was still pedaling, heaving and getting passed by all the guys I had just gone around. So much for that effort. Sure I felt fine, but I was nervous to continue, knowing that my system was completely depleted. I kept on going and started pounding all the gels and food that I brought with me to try and refuel.
After the first 27 mile lap, I came thru the finish where I picked up a bottle of nuun and a waffle from Lauren. She informed me that I was in 6th. I wanted to get on the podium at this race super bad, but when I hit the road climb for the second time, my legs cramped up so bad that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish. Throughout the 6 mile climb I came pretty darn close to pulling the plug, but I wanted to finish what I started! Now I had 20ish miles left of pushing thru the cramps in my legs and keeping my head in the game. At one point I found myself walking my bike up one of the steep rocky climbs and dragging my Ergon grips thru the side of a 5 foot snow bank. When I finally got to the top of the final climb I let out a sigh of relief and managed to find a little extra energy to charge the downhill!
It felt really good to be done! I was a little dissapointed that I didn’t make it on the podium, but glad that I was able to hang on for 8th! I can’t believe that I raced it rigid last year and finished 10th. I was wishing I had full suspension out there. Hopefully soon?
more pictures to come…