Local riders fly on Fourth
July 8, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Becky Edmiston wasn't a fan of Breckenridge's Firecracker 50 mountain bike race, a Fourth of July tradition for many riders from the region.
When she raced it about five years ago, she struggled with the loose rock on fire roads, a hazard on the descent portion of the massive mountain bike route.
"I remember being so scared," she said.
What a difference a few years can make.
Edmiston went back to the big 50-mile Breck event, and Saturday, she roared through those sections and the rest of the course, powering her way to a fifth-place finish in the women's open field and helping lead the way for a strong contingent of Steamboat Springs mountain bikers.
"It just seemed a lot better this year," she said, comparing experiences. "I think I've gotten better at going downhill."
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That seems likely.
Edmiston, who rides with Steamboat Velo, began getting more serious with her hobby about six years ago and has emerged as one of the top racers in Steamboat Springs. She was second in the pro/open women's class in her only Town Challenge race of this season and finished first and second in the two races she tackled a year ago.
With a second-place finish in her division at the 2014 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals last summer in Idaho, she earned her pro certification, and she is putting it to use this summer, chasing the Colorado Mountain Town series championship, which combines finishes from the Firecracker, the looming Steamboat Stinger and May's Gunnison Growler.
That's what drew her back to Breck to confront those trails she hadn't loved.
When she got on them Saturday, they felt entirely different. The course, two 25-mile laps, was brutally difficult in spots, so steep that she and other elite riders looked like newbies trying to ride to the top of the gondola in Steamboat, i.e. pushing their bikes instead of riding.
"It is steep," she said.
But, she handled that and the rest of the course well enough, finishing in 5 hours, 3 minutes and 50 seconds.
She's off to a good start in the three-race competition, first with an eighth-place finish in Gunnison, and now with a fifth-place showing in Breck.
She wasn't alone in recording a strong day Saturday, either.
Alex Pond was sixth in the men's pro/open field at 3:53:09, and Peter Kalmes, 17th in 4:04:30. Matt Heydon then was 20th in the men's expert 45-49 division in 5:17:11.
Jaime Brede and Kelly Boniface came together on team "Fast is Fun," and they had fun and went plenty fast, winning the women's duo division in 4:26:49, 15 minutes better than any other duo. Hannah Williams and Brad Bingham, meanwhile, dominated the co-ed division, winning in 4:02:19, six minutes better than any opponent.