Bikers taste mud at final town race |

Bikers taste mud at final town race

Ryan Slabaugh

Which brings the question to mind, what does mud taste like?

“It tastes pretty good, actually, but it stings my eyes,” said Pete Fralick of Avon, who won the men’s sport division despite single-tracks that substituted for slip-n-slides. “It was pretty hard to see because of the rain. On the Lionshead loop, I think I fell three times.”

For young and old, beginner or expert, the conditions were less than pleasant – mirroring the same rainy day at last year’s season finale. While numbers were down compared to earlier, sunnier races, many of those who entered withdrew midway because the mud gunked the gears, clogged the brakes and had those wearing sunglasses wishing for wiper blades.

“It was kind of hilarious for us, especially in the single-track,” said Blair Young, of Edwards, who raced in the women’s beginner class. “Our biggest goal was to stay on the bike. It was still fun.”

Staying on the bike was harder than it seemed. Those who did accomplish a full race broke the finish line looking more like swamp things than dapper athletes. Still, for locals like Avon’s Ann Darby, it won’t deter her from looking back on a good season, and waiting for next year when she makes the leap from beginner to veteran class.

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“It was gnarly with a capital G,” said Darby, who was the top beginner finisher and had the common sense to bring a jacket. “A lot of people ended up pushing their bikes. It’s fine. I’d rather bike my own pace and finish.”

And for the Front Range athletes, who drove the hour and a half for the mountain series, the rain wasn’t about to keep them from finishing. Or maybe it was the free keg of beer and hamburgers at Larkspur Restaurant after the race that lured them to the finish line.

“That’s no beginner course,” said Arvada’s Chris Terrell, who’s in his first year of racing. “I saw, literally, 15 guys go over their handlebars. When I ride for fun, I fall at least once a ride. But during these races, I like to stay on my seat.”

About 200 riders came out for the race despite the adverse conditions, said organizer Heather Bernard. By the end, the clouds had passed, and the distant Gore Range was again reflecting that orange sphere in the sky. Remember the sun? Nope. Most just remembered the taste of the Vail mud they wore so well.

“The mud tastes pretty good,” Young said. “But it doesn’t taste like much though.”

In the end, that’s what that keg of beer is for. It washes down some of Mother Nature’s home cooking.

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