Davos Dash tradition carried on in Vail | VailDaily.com

Davos Dash tradition carried on in Vail

Jay Henry pedals his way to the win in the Davos Dash on Wednesday in West Vail. The Davos Dash remains a spectacular uphill grind, challenging everyone from pros to beginners.
Matt Munson | Special to the Daily |

VAIL — The Davos Dash isn’t just a race, it’s a tradition.

The 33rd installment of that tradition got underway on Wednesday after a thunderstorm on June 22 delayed it by a week.

That delay didn’t simply mean more time to prepare for the difficult 3.5-mile climb, it also meant that the race would be held on Vi Brown’s birthday. Vi and her husband, Byron, have cheered for riders in the Davos Dash since the race’s inception in 1983.

“We love that they come right by our house,” Vi Brown said. “It would be a shame to sit in the house while all these wonderful people are coming by.”

The Browns live on Cortina Lane in West Vail, which is the major roadway en route to the Forest Service trail that comprises most of the race.

“I’ve told them many times they ought to call it the Cortina Dash,” Byron Brown said. “But they didn’t have Cortina when it first started.”

Vi and Byron will celebrate 55 years of marriage on July 1.

“We love the local sports, and that’s one of the good things about Vail, is that everyone is so passionate about exercise and biking,” Vi Brown said. “The looks on their faces as they’re coming up the hill shows that they really care how they end up in the race.”


Jay Henry won the race again this year, completing the course in about 17 minutes, 30 seconds. An Eagle County native, Henry’s first Davos Dash was in 1989.

“I’ve done it almost every year since then,” said Henry, a former state champion cross-country mountain-bike racer.

The Davos Dash is billed by the Vail Recreation District as the longest-running mountain bike race in the state.

“It’s the only race that I can think of where the course has remained the same since the first edition,” he said. “This is really the only mountain bike race where the time is such a barometer of how well you’re doing on your season.”

This year, riders said the Forest Service road was in better shape than in previous years, with less ruts from motorized vehicles. C.J. Poulin, with the Vail Recreation District, said the Forest Service’s travel management plan, recently implemented within the White River National Forest in Eagle County, is what contributed to the smoother trail.

“They’ve started to enforce the policy of not letting motorized vehicles on the road, and it really helped,” Poulin said.

Deputy district ranger Aaron Mayville said after years of criticism, the travel management plan is starting to see some favorable feedback from people like the riders in Wednesday’s Davos Dash.

“We are starting to see improved conditions on the ground, which riders seem to appreciate,” Mayville said Wednesday.

Local racer Richard Knapp said he could feel the difference.

“I definitely noticed less ruts this year,” he said.


For women’s winner Karen Jarchow, it was only the second Davos Dash of her long career in mountain-bike racing.

“I had fun,” she said. “I love climbing and I’m never going to go that hard by myself, so having Gretchen (Reeves, women’s runner up) on my wheel was a nice push.”

Henry said if you can have fun at the Davos Dash, you can have fun in any mountain-biking conditions.

“I don’t necessarily like going up hill, and I don’t necessarily love riding on dirt roads, but this is a classic, for sure,” he said.

Henry’s major competition came from another Eagle County native, Cristhian Ravelo.

“I coached him on the high school team and now we’re teammates on the Tokyo Joe’s team,” Henry said. “Our team owner lives on the course, so he was out in his driveway cheering us on.”

Also cheering on Henry was his former Buddy Werner league ski coach, Steve McSpadden. McSpadden’s daughter Bayli, 13, also raced in the Davos Dash on Wednesday.

“I’ll be coaching her soon on the high school team,” Henry said. “That happens a lot, where the kids I’m coaching, their parents were people I knew growing up, and played sports with.”

Vi Brown said the family circle of friends and competitors is her single favorite thing about the Davos Dash tradition.

“It’s a competition, but it’s a friendly competition,” she said. “You can tell that they all like each other.”

The Vail Rec District mountain bike race series continues July 6 with the Berry Creek Bash in Edwards.

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