A Summit County late-summer sport staple got a new look on Sunday, September 12, as the traditional Fall Classic mountain bike race returned to Breckenridge.
Due to a major logging operation in the Indiana Gulch and the closure of trail access on private property, runners took to a new Fall Classic course on Sunday. The route featured 3,800 feet of climbing over 30 miles of some of the best trails in the Breckenridge area.
Breckenridge local Tim Faia, who won Sunday’s 50+ expert men’s division race in 2 hours, 41 minutes and 57.6 seconds, said he appreciated the way the new course included portions in Galena Ditch and on the ZL Trail – two stretches that are usually only run each. year during Breck’s epic.
Despite the facelift to the course, Faia said the event retained the unique verve it had since he first raced it at the age of 26 in 1995. At the time, Faia remembers that it was not out of the question for riders to go through a few inches of fresh snow in early September as you roll up Heinous Hill, Lincoln Meadow and through Little French to Nightmare on Baldy and Iowa Mill.
“It’s such an iconic race because in Colorado, ATV races usually end with the Fall Classic,” Faia said. “It’s been like this for a long time. I just think running a mountain bike on what would be the last weekend of summer and running in the snow is cool.
Charles Roth of Breckenridge also returned to compete in the Fall Classic, his first fat tire challenge appearance in a decade. Roth, who won the men’s single-speed division in 2: 49: 29.9, said this year’s course had some climbs that were difficult to associate with the “flumey” sections of the Galena and ZL tracks. In his first Fall Classic singlespeed race, Roth took the lead in a climb up Yellowbrick Road as other singlespeeders rode their bikes. Despite a spill when his wheels were blown off Side Door, Roth earned a victory of over 11 minutes after a seemingly endless climb over Weber Gulch.
“I didn’t realize we were going all the way to the top there,” Roth said. “It was demoralizing to have this climb. It was definitely a challenge there to fight through that last little bit. “
Taylor Shelden, of Breckenridge, won Sunday’s men’s general and pro-open race with a time of 2: 21: 03.5, while Bayli McSpadden, of Vail, won the women’s pro-open division in 2:52 : 54.6. Shelden’s repeat victory in the 2019 Fall Classic earned him the overall championship in this summer’s Summit Mountain Challenge racing series.
Shelden said that while he loves the traditional route of the Fall Classic – he’s raced the event more than half a dozen times since he debuted at age 15 in the early 2000s – Sunday’s new course looked like a big mountain bike race because of the way it consisted mostly of single track sections. On Sunday, Shelden took the lead on the ZL and Gold Run tracks before hitting Back Door and Side Door for a winning margin of over two and a half minutes.
“As we got into the race, the escalation – I think it started to add up,” Shelden said.
Whitney Hedberg of Breckenridge won the women’s sports division with a time of 2: 24: 04.1. Hedberg, an experienced Nordic skier and runner, has decided to try local mountain bike racing as she returns to competition after the birth of her son Odin Tripp Hedberg two years ago.
Hedberg said she partially prepared for the race – just her second mountain bike race – by riding with Odin on local trails this summer. The mother uses the Shotgun-mounted child mountain bike seat to ride with her son on the county’s most tame trails.
But on Sunday, as she raced to the women’s sporting victory, it was Hedberg’s husband, Olof Hedberg, who rode with Odin Tripp on side trails of the Breckenridge network to surprise Whitney Hedberg at various points in the race.
As Olof Hedberg checked the map in the Find My iPhone app to see where he could ride next to meet Whitney Hedberg, Odin Tripp Hedberg sat in jeans and a helmet holding his own handlebars and pedaling his own pedals – two accessories on the frame that do not affect the direction or speed of the bike at all, but give the little one their first taste of riding.
“It’s fun to see Odin on the course and for him to see me push myself,” said Whitney Hedberg. “It’s a relatively new thing to see moms go above and beyond and I think it’s important for him to see that there is more to my life besides being a mom.”