.. well actually it was the Firecracker 54 this year. And not because I got lost off course They actually switched it up a bit, removing the Iowa Mill climb and and fall-line descent, adding 2 new sections of singletrack and making a longer doubletrack loop out at Humbug Hill. Overall, I liked this course a lot better than last year’s version – although I’m sure there’s a way they could avoid running so much ATV-rutted doubletrack in favor of singletrack! Oh and there was MUD..
Anyways, here’s the quick rundown: I spent the greater part of the weekend up in Keystone with some friends – our annual “guys week” / bachelor party. We did some riding, some beer drinking, some whitewater rafting, some trail running/hiking, explored some old mines, some of us got in a final day of skiing up at Araphahoe basin. All around great time. But the 500 lb gorilla was lurking in the room all weekend – the Firecracker 50 on July 4th. There was no tapering or getting adequate amounts of rest for this one – just the promise of pure high-altitude pain.
I started off with my great friend Mike T who was visiting from Maryland (thats 0 ft above sea level). I wasn’t feeling super spunky but I kept going with the lead group despite my better judgement and cries from my legs to slow down. I hit the singletrack in 1st, and dropped to 4th by the end of the first lap … I was riding consistently and putting huge gaps on the descents but I just wasn’t climbing that well. Second lap, my morale faded on the big long road climb as the lead group of self-proclaimed “old farts” (Cat 1 40-49) passed me. I kept it steady and eventually saw one of my competition drop out with a mechanical, then slowly reeled in another .. my climbing legs were back. It just took 3 1/2 hrs to warm up! I pressed on hard to the finish and was using the downhills to my full advantage. Good thing too – I crossed the line in 2nd place with 3rd place (Matt Shiff) breathing down my neck just 9 seconds back!
My legs felt like crap the whole race but I kept it steady and just did the deed… and it paid off with a 2nd place! Mike came it a little ways back in 9th place with a bloody mangled arm and mumbling something about oxygen deprivation and vomiting. We spent the next few hours in the ER getting Mike’s arm sewn back together (OK it was just 5 stitches).
Great weekend with friends + high altitude pain + 2nd place finish = successful independence weekend (America, F yeah!)
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