By Eddie Clark
(July 4, 2012) BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.— The long running Firecracker 50 mountain bike race with its main street parade start, grueling amounts of climbing and legit rocky mountain singletrack, by default, make this a race not to be missed. In fact 750 mountain bikers showed up to contest this drier than usual edition, which was graced with near perfect weather conditions.
The pro men and women were the first wave of racers to roll down the packed main street, which kicked off the day's festivities with a morning parade. Soon after the neutral parade start, racers were climbing up Boreas Pass Road to the Bakers Tank Trail where the serious racing would begin in earnest with a sprint for a clean line onto the singletrack.
"You definitely don't want to be in twentieth place going into the singletrack", said eventual winner Jay Henry (Tokyo Joes). Indeed, Henry who last won the Firecracker in 2007 was well positioned and close to the front of the race, which was then being led by Tim Allen (Niner Bikes) as they approached the downhill Nightmare on Baldy Trail.
New for this year was the elimination of the climb up Sally Barber Road, which was replaced with the addition of more singletrack in the V3 Trail. It's also worth noting the new course also featured some new views as a result of forestry work along the Barney Ford Trail. The clear cutting might not be pretty, but the new views of the Ten Mile Range weren't such a bad trade off.
"It's so cool that the course has been getting better year to year, and it accommodates heavy traffic really well now. The new singletrack is way better psychologically than climbing up the old Sally Barber Road. The singletrack is fun and it takes your mind off the climb", recounted Henry of the new addition. "It's probably the best race I've done all year."
The pro women's champion, Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joes) had a slight scare with a flat on the second lap, but fortunately her Stan's sealant took care of that, and all that was required was a quick stop to add some more air. Whereas behind her, Kelly Boniface (Moots) was not so lucky and flatted twice during the race, but still overcame the delays to take second place on the day.
Reeves was also very thankful of Maverick Sports Promotions team for putting on another excellent race. "The course was in great shape, the feeds were all awesome, and it's always great racing with Kelly Boniface. Westy, the race director, works his ass off and no doubt he has the racer's best interests in mind with course improvements, flexibility with regards to registration changes and cancellations, and stocked aid stations with volunteers doing hand-ups so we don't have to stop, and the list goes on."