Fast friends, good times and vice versa | VailDaily.com

Fast friends, good times and vice versa

Michael Wheeler makes his way down Corkscrew during the Beaver Creek Blast mountain-bike race, Wednesday, at Beaver Creek. The race is the last of the Wednesday bike race series for the season through the Vail Recreation District.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com |

BEAVER CREEK — Local mountain-biking professional Jay Henry first met Cristhian Ravelo in Bogota, Colombia, when Ravelo was 4 years old.

“We stayed with his grandparents and then would go over to Cristhian’s house every morning to have breakfast before we (would) go out and train,” Henry recalls.

When Henry joined the coaching staff of the local high school cycling league, Ravelo was one of the first varsity racers on the team.

“It’s a small hemisphere,” Henry said. “I keep seeing this guy over and over, from the time he was 4.”

On Wednesday, they met again, at the finishing line of the Beaver Creek Blast, the final race in the Vail Recreation District’s annual mountain-bike racing town series. Ravelo edged out Henry by a few seconds to claim the win in the pro division of the race, which saw 3,600 feet of climbing over 16 miles. Both men race for team Toyko Joe’s.

“I’ve been looking up to this guy my whole life, so it’s nice to be able to keep up with him,” Ravelo, who is now 23 years old, said after the race.

It was a good evening for racing, said women’s pro winner Marlee Dixon, who headed into Eagle County from Fairplay to partake in her only Vail town series race so far this year. She also did the Beaver Creek Blast last year. Rainy conditions in the morning made for good conditions in the evening, Dixon said.

‘AND I FORGOT’

“I felt like the dirt was really good today compared to how it was last year,” she said. “The course was great, super fun.”

Dixon edged out her friend and rival Karen Jarchow, an Eagle County local who claimed the pro series’ overall title with her second place finish. Jarchow said Dixon had tipped her off with a possible hint at race strategy, but she didn’t listen to Dixon as closely as she should have.

“We were riding together last week and she told me how much she liked fire road descents,” Jarchow said. “And I forgot.”

After trading the lead a few times on the first climb, Jarchow settled in behind Dixon, assuming she would be able to make up the distance on the descent.

But it was a fire road descent.

“She just took off,” Jarchow said. “She got a gap there which was the gap for the whole race.”

FAST TIMES

This year, the Beaver Creek Blast fell amid a big stretch of racing on the calendars of a lot of the competitors. In a sport in which the athletes are always moving, it’s been business as usual.

Jarchow won four races on the National Ultra Endurance Series this summer, helped organize the six-day Breck Epic mountain-biking stage race last week, and will be getting married in about a month.

Ravelo competed in the famed Leadville 100 on Aug. 13, followed that up with the Breck Epic which began the next day, took two days off and then competed in the a roughly 30-mile crit race on Sunday at the Sonic Boom Lucky Pie in Louisville. A road biker as well as a trail rider, Ravelo also plans on competing in the Steamboat Stage Race on Labor Day weekend and the Outlier race in Vail in September.

Ciro Zarate, a mechanic at Pedal Power in Eagle-Vail, won the single speed division on Wednesday, locking up the overall title in that division. Zarate has been competing in single speed for years but has never won the title; this year the final race came just days after he secured victory in the Duo division of the Breck Epic with local cyclocross pro Jake Wells.

“I’ve won a lot of town series races, but I’ve never won the overall race series,” he said. “So I’m actually pretty stoked.”