amy alison dombroski

2013 Blogs

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Firecracker 50

in

Breckenridge, Colorado.

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Riding behind Mister Charlie Hayes
on a singlespeed (insane in the
membrane) with Mike Zobbe
(original F50 course designer)
on the banjo on the highest part
of the course, about 11,500'.
I love it and I hate it at the same time. TheFirecracker 50 is one of my all-time favorite races and it has been since 2006 when I won my expert category and my brother won his semi-pro category and we closed the circus down, finishing the keg off with Westy, the race promoter. He gave me a box of Clif Bars which seemed like gold when I was first beginning racing. 

Since 2006 I have missed one year of Firecracker and I wasn't going to let that happen again.  It's a lovely way to spend the 4th - to be a part of the parade down Main Street in Breckenridge, to suffer and wheeze and cry and bleed and sweat and curse your way through 50 miles and 8,000ft of climbing.  The race thoroughly tests your will and determination if you're doing the whole shebang because the bail-out option is so simple. As you complete 1 lap and embark on a 2nd lap, a lot of people are already a couple beers in and you can smell the BBQ awaiting your hungry belly. I'll admit that - a couple years ago I had had 3 flat tires on that first lap so the BBQ scent literally ripped me off my bike as I wobbled through, barely finishing one lap. 

This year wasn't plagued with flat tires or mechanicals...no just biomechanicals. I had the 25 miles in me, but the 2nd 25 miles I died a thousand deaths. The pro men and women are the first racers off and it is unique because it allows the women to duck in and draft with the men and ride the pavement of Boreas Pass as a group. Household name Gretchen Reeves assumed her domination yet again (she has won this race quite a few other years) and there were 3 other chicks in front of me all riding their climbing tempo. The race begins at 9,500ft and climbs from there - at that altitude you can just ride the race within you. So that is what I did and while my climbing wasn't quite up to par with some of the girls in front of me, I knew I could handle myself alright on the descents. About half way through the first lap I had sight of one girl in front of me but she was able to put time into me on Heinous Hill - a godawful loose and steep and relentless climb in all-too-thin air at about 11,000ft. But by the end of the lap I was able to get back on her wheel. Then I crashed a stupid crash. Then I descended the rest of the course like a weenie and was paying attention to every little vibration in my cut up knee. I finished the first lap in 2 hours and 8 minutes and as I reluctantly left port on my 2nd lap I was on 4th place's wheel and I saw 3rd place up ahead. I thought I had the chase in me but as the road leapt skyward it was soon apparent that there wasn't a whole lot of dazzle left in me. I put my head down and climbed what I could climb but I just felt tired, sleepy tired, ready for a nap and my focus was miles away. I scared myself a few times with some dizzy descending and dawdling reactions. Then I hit the dreaded Heinous Hill, the hill that invokes the hatred and everything seized up and I had a mini asthma attack...something I've not had since I was a fat kid playing dodgeball in the 6th grade. I hung my head over my bars and struggled for control of the situation as memories of being an asthmatic chunkster with flushed cheeks sitting alone at lunch in middle school flashed through my head. I summited Heinous Hill at a snail's pace and died a few more deaths through that lap, at a pace 20 minutes slower than my first lap. Ouch. 

I finished with 5th place and I left my 
suffering and wheezing and tears and blood and sweat and curses on the trail for next year. I hope one year to add my name to the winning history books but for this Firecracker I was just so excited to clean my knee out and for BBQ and fireworks that I could wave my less than stellar race off. Thank you Breckenridge and Westy and to all the volunteers who make this race a success every single year!  


Copyright © 2012 Amy Dombroski. All Rights Reserved.

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