Kicking off July in the Colorado High Country

Kicking off July in the Colorado High Country

July 4th means only one thing to the mountain bike community in Colorado, the Firecracker 50. As one of the longest standing marathon events in the state, over 1,000 competitors toe the start line to complete two 25-mile backcountry loops in the high mountains around Breckenridge, CO. Karen Jarchow and Dave Wiens would fly the team colors during this unique weekday race. Behind the scenes, Jeff Kerkove offered rider support and media.

Dave following his tough day on the bike, “It's always great to race in Breckenridge. I first raced the Fall Classic Stage Race their in 1987, so more than 30 years later, I feel fortunate to still be able to line up and race mountain bikes around one of the classic mining towns in Colorado. I suffered mightily out there this year, but the course is incredible and fun, from start to finish.”

Karen, who also competed, unfortunately would withdraw from competition after Lap 1 while in 3rd place due to an asthma attack. Colorado this season is being plagued by record drought. Smokey skies from nearby forest fires and dusty conditions are the new normal for the 2018 mountain bike season in Colorado.

Karen following her withdraw from the event, “Firecracker 50 was a big disappointment for me suffering an allergy/asthma attack early on. I scaled back and got it under control, and then kept trying to get things going again, but my body just wouldn’t respond. It’s never easy to pull out of a race; that decision tends to loom over your head days after the event passes. But, I’m trying to just put it behind me, stay positive and focus on Crusher in the Tushar.”

On Saturday, the team was represented in Leadville at the Silver Rush 50. Held on the east side of Leadville in the historic Mining District, the Silver Rush 50 brings out 700+ racers vying for a qualifier spot in the 100-mile race in August. Similar to the 100-mile race, this 50-mile race is also an out-and-back. Starting at an elevation of 10,500 feet and only going up from there, the race was sure to be a battle for both riders and equipment.

The Silver Rush is unique in that the race starts by making racers run up a large steep hill with their bikes. “It's like the running of the bulls,” stated Jeff. Jeff had a great start, getting to the top out of trouble and at the front end of the race. With the race under way, Jeff settled into his race pace and plan.

“Racing at extreme altitude I am in no hurry at the start....not looking to red-line,” said Jeff.

Jeff stuck to his plan, but his legs had other plans as the race went on. Feeling sluggish, there was simply no snap in the legs after the first 45-minutes of racing. It was looking like Jeff would not be improving his 4th place overall finish from 2017.

Jeff after crossing the finish line, “When you've been training for the past 9 weeks to ride a loaded bike far and efficiently, don't expect to feel sharp for a quick and fast 50 miler. I'm nearly 1 hour slower than my time in 2017. I'm bummed, but it's kind of expected.”

Jeff stuck it out and pushed through the sluggishness to get to the finish line.

Next up the team can be found at the Crusher in the Tushar gravel race in Utah and the non-stop 540-mile Colorado Trail Race, which starts in Denver and finishes in Durango.