Breckenridge Firecracker 50 kind to local riders |

Breckenridge Firecracker 50 kind to local riders

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs rider Kate Rench stands atop the podium Wednesday at the Breckenridge Firecracker 50. Rench won the expert women 40-49 division in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 52.8 seconds.

— Flat tires took the place of fireworks Wednesday, but they didn't seem to stop a local contingent of Steamboat Springs mountain bikers at the annual Breckenridge Firecracker 50.

The course includes two 25-mile laps, each requiring riders to climb almost 4,000 vertical feet. But the real trick is the terrain. The course features a fire road and singletrack, but shale made some parts akin to riding over glass.

"That's the thing about this race," Steamboat rider Peter Kalmes said. "Half the luck with finishing it is going without having some sort of flat or bike issue."

Kalmes found himself on the lucky side Wednesday as he was able to avoid problems and finish sixth in the men's pro open division, blistering the course in 3 hours, 42 minutes and 17.9 seconds.

It was a far cry from the previous four times he has done it. The first time was his first lengthy race. The second time he got lost, and the third time he battled the dreaded flat tires.

On Wednesday, however, Kalmes was with the lead group through the first lap before falling off the pace a bit in the second and final lap.

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Barkley Robinson was 13th in 3:51:03.7, and Alex Pond was 22nd in 3:59:38.

Kelly Boniface continued her torrid summer, finishing second in the women's pro open division.

Boniface and eventual winner Gretchen Reeves broke away early from the pack. Boniface suffered a flat on a descent but never relinquished her hold on second place.

She finished in 4:19:01.2.

"In between inflating my tires, I felt really good," she said. "It's one of my favorites. I really like this race."

Kate Rench, racing her first Firecracker 50, was first in the expert women 40-49 division, finishing in 4:30:52.8.

"I thought I had first the whole time," Rench said. "I was sure I did. There is always a question, but I had to actually tell them I was first."

Jeff Snook was 16th in the expert men 35-39 division in 4:47:38.9, and Steve Palmquist was 11th in the sport men 40-44 division in 5:13:23.5.

Bec Bale and Mike Sharkey were 13th in the coed duo team division, finishing in 4:43:46.3, and Nate Bird and Tara Abbaticchio were 14th in 4:43:55.8.

Bird and Abbaticchio were in first after the first lap, but a flat tire doomed Abbaticchio on the second lap.

Jeff Boswell and Fred Grinnan finished 41st in the men's duo division, clocking in at 5:03:26.5.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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