Rain doesn’t dampen Beaver Creek Blast
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Riders in the Beaver Creek Blast took home souvenirs from Wednesday’s race. Not because they wanted a keepsake, but because rainy conditions left many caked with mud.
The Beaver Creek Blast completed the six-race Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Series. Rain spit on competitors throughout the afternoon, but it did little to hamper the enthusiasm of hundreds of riders. In fact, it actually improved the course.
“The climb was a little sloppy, but I’d say the course wasn’t affected negatively at all,” racer Jay Henry said. “Allie’s Way was in better shape because of the rain.”
The rain made the initial climb and 1,378-foot elevation change even more muscle-searing, but after that, it gave riders a better grip on the tight turns during the nearly six-mile course.
“It was actually pretty good,” competitor Melanie McQuard said. “There were a couple of sections where it got peanut buttery and slow, but it wasn’t really slippery.”
Gasping for air
With Saturday’s inaugural XTERRA triathlon at Beaver Creek quickly approaching, McQuard used the race as a final tune-up. That doesn’t mean the British Columbia native didn’t struggle with the altitude.
“Everything was hard because I wasn’t used to the altitude yet,” McQuard said.
McQuard was still no slouch. In her first race at Beaver Creek, she finished in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 9 seconds to take third place in the women’s pro elite.
Other riders were left gasping for air not because of the elevation, but because of flat tires. Henry won the men’s pro elite division despite popping a tire on the climb of his third lap. Henry kept the slow leak at bay with a air canister until the very end of the 18-mile trek when he crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 1:21:54 and a completely flat tire.
The victory clinched a dominating season for Henry. He won the overall men’s pro elite title and took first in four races.
“It’s kind of sad the series is over,” Henry said. “These are always a lot of fun.”
Husband and wife Dan and Robyn Ritsch both raced in the Beaver Creek Blast, but if there is any sort of rivalry, it’s pretty lopsided. Robyn beat Dan by 2:54 on Wednesday.
“I do everything I can to keep up with her, but I’m a wuss,” Dan said. “It’s my own fault. I got her started, now I can’t keep up. She’ll beat me by five minutes every race.”
Dan and Robyn were greeted after the race by their two young daughters, Mollie and Madison. Later, the family enjoyed the festivities at the Coyote Cafe where the post-party was held and prizes were given out.
It took over half a decade but someone finally knocked off six-time defending series champions Mountain Pedaler West. Led by Henry, Gretchen Reeves and Josiah Middaugh Power Pedal/Street Swell claimed top honors with 6,495 total points.
Mountain Peddlar West finished in second with 4,010 points and Beaver Creek took third with 3,054 points.
“It just like everything else in these races ” it’s competitive, but it’s friendly competitive,” Henry said. “All the different teams are good friends. When we line up, we are trying to beat each other, but we are drinking beer afterwards.”
Sports writer Ian Smith can be reach at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men’s pro elite ” Jay Henry 1:21:54
Women’s pro elite ” Gretchen Reeves 1:02.30
Men’s expert ” Not available at press time
Women’s expert ” Pavan Krueger 1:14:53
Men’s vet expert ” Steven Myers 59:14
Women’s vet expert ” Paisley Frischholz
Men’s vet sport ” Ron Braden 1:04:47
Men’s masters ” Ron Gruber 1:05:16
Men’s sport ” Jerry Oliver 1:02:04
Women’s sport ” Meredith Mueller 1:15:32
Men’s beginner ” Sean McCormick 33:34
Women’s beginner ” Renae Parks 40:55
Men’s single speed ” Ryan Dorsey 56:35
Juniors ” Moises Selman 32:51