British rider Killeen wins fifth Firecracker 50
BRECKENRIDGE – From the festive start, riding down Main Street to kick off the Breckenridge Fourth of July parade, to the 50 miles of brutal climbs and technical downhills, the Firecracker 50 once again gave more than 600 bikers a ride to remember.Everyone from pro cross country riders, that make a living on their bikes, to weekend warriors, trying to prove to themselves they can successfully navigate more than 10,000 feet of uphill riding, entered the fifth-annual race put on by Maverick Sports. Riders could either attempt the 50-mile course themselves or share it with a teammate.Riders were divvied up into several divisions from beginner to pro, men and women, and several age categories. After 3 hours and 39.29 minutes, Malvern, England resident Liam Killeen finished the two-lap race first. While the race was a monumental achievement for most of the competitors, it was just training for Killeen.”I’m staying in Dillon, training for the World Cup in New Mexico next week,” Killeen said. “So I decided to give it a go. It’s definitely a tough one.”Vail resident Jay Henry finished second, just 26 seconds behind Killeen, equaling his best finish at the Firecracker. “I felt great,” Henry said. “It’s a beautiful course. When you notice the scenery when you’re racing, you know it’s pretty cool.”In one of the smaller divisions in the race, the singlespeed riders were possibly the most boastful when the trek was over.
Jason Webber, of Colorado Springs, won the singlespeed division, while Breckenridge resident Tim Faia placed second. “I hardly ever race,” Webber said. “I just like to ride my bike. Every couple years I like to come out and kick some (butt).”Apparently it took some coercion by friends to get Webber to enter the Firecracker.”Everyone has been pushing me to come out here and beat everybody,” Webber. “This is the best course ever.”Singlespeeders also made their presence felt in the Expert Men’s Team Division, due to the lack of a singlespeed team division.Using only one gear, Devin Curran and Kris Carlsted, both of Breckenridge, finished second in the division. They finished only a minute and a half behind the geared winners, James Lee and Jacob Yousha, also of Breckenridge.”We’re just a couple of guys from Minnesota that can turn over the cranks quickly,” Curran said. “Next year there will probably be a singlespeed team category.””You can only go so slow and you can only go so fast,” said Carlsted, the head bike mechanic at A Racer’s Edge in Breckenridge. “I think I’d go slower if I had gears, because I’d wuss out.”On the women’s side, pro rider Gretchen Reeves, of Boulder, was the overall winner, while Breckenridge rider Monique Merrill finished second.
“It’s just a hard race,” Merrill said. “If you’re fit, it’s hard. If you’re not, it’s hard. You have to give it to everyone that finishes this course.”Breckenridge rider Christian Ball was the first Summit County resident to cross the finish line, finishing fifth in the semi-pro division. He said the Firecracker 50 is an experience like no other.”It’s really humbling being in that group,” Ball said. “That start is awesome. It’s so loud.”Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.Firecracker 50, BreckenridgeMen’s Pro Division1. Liam Killeen, Malvern, England
2. Jay Henry, Vail3. Roan Exelby, South AfricaWomen’s Pro Division1. Gretchen Reeves, Boulder2. Monique Merrill, Breckenridge3. Julie Emmerman, Boulder
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