Fall Classic slips, slides into classic mud ride
BRECKENRIDGE – When Terry Rider came down the final, muddy switchbacks into Carter Park during Sunday’s rain-soaked Fall Classic cross country race, he received a hero’s welcome.
The inspirational crowd cheered him around the final turn and into the finish area.
In return, Rider looked up at everyone, waved, and smiled the biggest smile he could muster.
Rider, from Wichita, Kan., was the final competitor to finish the cross country race, completing the 19-mile beginner course in just over 5 hours and 20 minutes.
To put that in perspective, overall winner Jay Henry of Avon finished the 27-mile pro course in under three hours.
What would possess a man to stay out in a cold high-country rain long after the race was decided, even for his own category?
“I’ve always finished this thing,” he said with a broad grin on his face at the finish line. “I just kept going.”
This is the fifth time Rider has come from Wichita to participate in the Fall Classic, which was resurrected by Maverick Sports promoters Mike McCormack and Jeff Westcott last year after a 5-year hiatus.
And though Sunday’s race was marred by an incessant drizzle that turned the course into a never-ending mud bog, McCormack believes the race was a success.
“Despite weather that was as bad as it could get, we still had a better turnout than last year,” he said.
“This race is one of my favorites,” said Henry, just after stepping off the podium in Carter Park. “This one is the most fun because of the stage race format.”
Henry got started in mountain bike racing 10 years ago as a junior in the Fall Classic.
Frank Mapel finished second in the pro race, while last year’s winner, Andrew Lee, finished third.
Tim Graczyk of Breckenridge turned the best local performance, finishing first in the expert division after three grueling stages. Graczyk also won the overall title in the Summit Mountain Challenge race series this summer.
“I’ve been waiting all year to do it again,” said Graczyk, who competed in last year’s edition on a singlespeed bike. “Now, I’ve got gears.”
Graczyk hopes to use this weekend’s result, as well as his SMC results, to apply for a semi-pro license for next season. Had he been racing this weekend as a pro, he would have placed third.
Brett Morgan of Summit Cove posted the second fastest expert time, and Vail’s Adam Plummer the third fastest. Plummer also won the 30-39 division.
In the pro women’s races, Kelli Emmett won the overall title, beating out Alison Dunlap by 33 minutes. Sandra Bloomer finished third.
Dunlap, a former world champion in cross-country racing, used the Fall Classic as her return to racing after 12 weeks of nursing a separated shoulder.
McCormack and Westcott are already looking forward to putting on next year’s edition.
“It’s a historical landmark in local mountain biking,” McCormack said. “It’s reverential.”
Finish Line: Fall Classic founder Scott Yule finished first in his class for the second year in a row … Ronie Graczyk of Breckenridge won the women’s expert overall while Eben Clark, also of Breckenridge, was the only person to finish all three stages on a singlespeed … See page A19 for complete results.
Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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