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Riders hammer the hay

Andrew Harley

Wednesday’s Hammer in the Hay bike races boasted around 200 competitors, their spouses, children, friends and family pets.

Hammer in the Hay kicked off the Vail/Beaver Creek Mountain Challenge Bike Series presented by Michelob Ultra and the Vail Recreation District.

“It was a blast,” said Paul Schafer of the Men’s Beginner division. “It was a good, dusty time. I coughed a little, but definitely enjoyed it.”

The course, a 3.7-mile loop, began with a steep climb, followed by a long, downhill traverse and ended with a flat run.

Afterward, the racers headed over to the Good Grub Grill for their choice of burgers, hot dogs or salad, and inside an old building holding gas station signs and saloon-style doors was a bar and a barn dance, featuring hip-hop music.

Needless to say, the tired legs on the dance floor cramped the rhythmic stylings of such artists as Nelly, but the smiles and jovial atmosphere more than made up for the mediocre jigs.

The races broke down into 17 divisions. Physically, the toughest divisions were the Men’s and Women’s Pro/Elite, which called for four laps around the course.

Jimi Mortensen won the Men’s Pro/Elite division – Jay Henry took second and Mike Jenelle placed third – with a time of 44 minutes, 51 seconds for 14.8 miles.

Melissa Thomas came in first in the Women’s Pro/Elite division – Mia Stockdale took second and Lisa Isom picked up third – with a time of 54:10.

“It was a tough race,” said Thomas. “The course was bumpy from all of the farm-animal tracks, so I had to ride on the grass in spots. But it was fun. It just beat you up a little.”

Thomas, who has raced professionally for three years, heads to California today to race at Big Bear.

“It’s a fun, social race here (at 4 Eagle Ranch). But it’s not just a race; they have a really great scene here,” Thomas added.

Scott Turnipseed won the Men’s Vet Expert division with a time of 46:50. Jake Wells won the Men’s Expert division with a 51:04. Jean Coulter won the Women’s Expert division with a 42:21. John Currier won the Men’s Masters with a 41:25. Rhonda Swenson won the Women’s Vet with a 29:54. Kirsten Stewart won the Women’s Sport with a 30:18. Jamie Anderson won the Men’s Sport with a 39:22. Ken Dorst won the Single Speed division with a 41:02. Mark Van Liere won the Men’s Beginner with a 28:27. Nina Dippy won the Women’s Beginner with a 32:33. 17-year-old Joshua Smith won the Junior Men’s division with a 28:32. Rudi Baldwin, 10 years old, won the Junior Girls (11 and under) division with a 19:58. Wes Stephens won the Junior Boys (11 and under) with a 18:26. 13-year-old Francisco Rocha won the Junior Boys (12-14 year-old) division with a 15:34. Kenzie Grant won the Junior Girls (12-14) division with a time of 24:48.

“It was a fun race,” said 13-year-old Kenzie Grant. “My favorite thing is going uphill because it’s challenging.”

“I had a blast,” said Kenzie’s brother Charlie Grant, 11, about the first race of his life. “I like going downhill best because you get to go fast.”

“One kid lost his tire. I’m glad I wasn’t that kid,” added Kenzie Grant.

Andrew Harley can be contacted at 949-0555 ext. 608 or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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