Long neon-pink curls sailed from the back of a helmet.
Astride a bicycle decorated as a fuzzy, white unicorn, Aislinn Wehrman’s eyes focused with delighted intensity at the 6-inch plank of board racing beneath her. The narrow, bobbing, swaying bridge crossed a football field length of cold pond water. The disco hit “Carwash” by Rose Royce blared from speakers in the background while a huge crowd gathered in 360-degrees around the pond cheered her forward across the plank.
In 6.85 seconds, the 12-year-old from Breckenridge won with ease the Mavsports Funkadelic Pond Crossing. In only its second year it has become the most popular event leading up to racers crossing the finish line at the Breckenridge stage of the USA Pro Challenge on Friday, Aug. 22.
The goal is to ride a bicycle across the plank, bobbing on top of the Breckenridge dredge pond located downtown in the fastest time. Each rider was given two opportunities, but most couldn’t complete it once.
“I just look down at the edge,” Wehrman said. “I’m a gymnast so I know how to balance.”
Wehrman made it look easy, but she was only one of a handful of competitors that actually made it all the way across. Her dad, Rex Wehrman, was one of the dozens that didn’t.
“She’s been giving me a hard time about it,” he said. “I almost made it the second time, but the whole plank moves around.”
Henry Boyd, 14, of Breckenridge, was also one of the few to complete the challenge. He crossed in 10.42 seconds, which was the fastest time for a male competitor. On his second attempt he tried to span the bridge on a unicycle, and he came incredibly close.
“I’ve got kind of a reputation for riding a unicycle, so I thought I’d give it a try,” Boyd said. “It’s so fun here. It’s a great vibe.”
Young and old alike donned costumes ranging from disco outfits and afro wigs to pink Speedos, adding absurdity to injury as one after another flew head over handlebars into the near-freezing pond, drawing gasps and laughs from the crowd.
Three members of the Summit County Water Rescue Team were on hand to help fish the spilled riders and their bicycles out of the murky depths. And there was no shortage of spills.
“This year I’m going for best crash,” said Josiah Humphreys, 15, of Breckenridge.
Wearing only tiny pink hot pants, he riled up the crowd before his ride across the bridge was cut short. His front wheel slipped off the edge causing his bicycle to nose-dive as he was hurled, pink shorts and all, in a graceful arcing dive into the water.
“This is a fun event,” Humphreys said. “It’s no pressure like a race, it’s just relaxing and you get to have fun. And you can wear Speedos.”
Jeff Westcott hosted the event. He said he got the idea for it after seeing it happen in Winter Park.
“It’s a quarky event,” Westcott said. “Everybody really seems to really like it, and it draws a good crowd.”
An hour later and one block away, fanfare and cheers awaited Laurent Didier as he won Stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge. Meanwhile, the narrow bridge on the pond was being disassembled leaving the damp wannabes another year to dream of beating the Funkadelic Pond Crossing challenge.