Firecracked > redemption on the Sourdough
July 4th…. last year I was home hanging with my newborn niece and lil buddy Peyton along with the family. This year, we stayed in Colorado and with that came an opportunity to race the Firecracker 50. A race I’ve always wanted to do. Long history to it and some super fun trails.
I had raced the saturday before hand at the Winter Park Super Loop, had a crappy start, but worked my way up through the field and felt good overall and happy with 20th place. So I had some good motivation and energy heading into Breck for the race.
My first lap went pretty well. I overcooked a bit heading up Boreas Pass and scaled it back some once I hit the singletrack, knowing I’d need to recover from the initial surge. Was feeling good and fast in the singletrack and having fun. Was following closely to a good size group of riders and had a few hot on my heels. Lil french was its usual grind and I made it up and over the top and feeling good.
Grind it out at 11,000 ft (photo Brian Sells)
Fought the good fight down the descent and back to Carter Park only to make a stupid mistake and washed a bit on one of the berms and nearly got run over by Kerkove. Came through the finish sub 2 hours & top 20 with a good group all around and plenty able to move forward and not too far down off the main leaders. Rolled it through and realized I hadn’t eaten really anything and barely drank from my bottle.
2 hours into the race and another 2 to go and I knew I was in trouble. I worked on slamming 2 bottles up Boreas pass and attempting to eat, but my body didn’t want any of it. And from there I just went backwards and into a state of pure misery. Shortly after hitting the singletrack things started shutting down every so slightly. By the time I hit lil French Gulch on the 2nd lap, I wanted to just sit down and be done with it. But thanks to my teammate & his signs up the Gulch there would be no DNF. Sells was screaming his lungs out at me at the top. Giving me no reason to pull the plug & enough motivation to make it back to the finish line. Every bit of the final descent hurt, Not sure if my body ever ached so much. My organs & insides felt like they were in a blender as I bounced around on the rocky descent back to the park. My core was tight and tense from the dehydration and felt like I was doing an hour long plank, every bump made it harder. But I refused to give in. I had flipped the switch in my head and was pushing it to the line. All the way and with all that I had (even though it was very little). I came through 20 minutes slower than my first lap. But I had finished. I refused to give in to the demons & learned an important lesson (beg borrow or steal Carborocket, that other stuff is shit!). Every race, even bad ones you can learn from. Full Race results here). I finished 25th, a long ways off my goal, but I’m hungry to better that moving forward.
Absolute misery on lap two on the top of Lil French Gulch (photo Michael Kane)
With the Firecracker 50 in the bag, this past weekend was all about pure fun on the bike (the training was just a bonus). We finally got some good rain!! Temps were much much cooler, trails were muddy & wet & humidity was in the air. With that, loaded up the truck and headed to the mountains saturday with Blake, Bryan & Chris. Rode some new stuff that I had never ridden before and got to play on the bike for a good bit. You couldn’t have had more fun than we did this past saturday on the trails. No way. No How.
All smiles as we hit the mud & the fun
Bryan negotiating the rocks on Buchannon Pass
Buchannon Pass-we had to turn around shortly as it was Wilderness ahead
Sunday, I needed more of that rocky wet goodness. But I knew I needed some miles and climbing in preparation for the Breck 68 this weekend. Thus I took the long way to top (if you wanna rock n roll, that’s how you do it). It was another rainy, misty and humid day. Loved every minute of climbing up into the clouds. I was soaked to the bone just riding and the sweat and water were just pouring off the elbows & brow as I rolled up Logan Mill & then down to up Switzerland Trail. It was barely 60 degrees but crazy warm. Once I got on top, it was raining pretty good on Gold Hill road before I hit the Sourdough Trail again.
It only took 5,000ft of climbing to get to this point
Rocky, wet and delicious trail.
Hadn’t ever ridden the sourdough trail from this direction, but with 5k of climbing in the legs, it pretty much was all uphill to Brainard Lake entrance. The more I climbed it seemed the dryer things got. As I got above 10,000 ft the trail was still moist, but hadn’t really gotten the rain that occurred down below. It was a super technical trail, lots of rocks, some more rocks and a few more for good measure. But it was damn fun. Even though I was tired and starting to crack at the seams, I was having tons of fun
Memorial Bridge & a sweet waterfall in the middle
Shredding the singletrack as it slaloms along
The trail was so much fun. I need to get up there without 3 hours in the legs and have some more fun. Just the kind of stuff I needed to redeem myself mentally and physically after the Firecracked 50. One of the best and most fun weekends on the bike in a long time. As I sit here and type monday am, every part of me is sore, especially my upper body and I couldn’t be happier with it. I need and want more weekends like this for sure!
But first Winter Park #3 this weekend and then some redemption at the Breck 68! Bring it on, I’m ready!