Brittany Jones could have easily decided that this year’s Firecracker 50 just wasn’t meant to be given the adversity she faced in the days and hours leading up to the race. Read about how the cycling community banded together to help her compete.
I signed up to race the Firecracker 50 as a relay with my East High School MTB athlete, Sara. Both she and I had been looking forward to this midsummer adventure, and if weren’t for the help and support of a lot of folks, it simply wouldn’t have happened.
The Thursday before the Firecracker, I hit a bad line on a new trail and went over the bars onto my shoulder. When I woke up Friday morning and still had a lot of discomfort and very limited range of motion, I took a trip to Urgent Care—just to be safe.
I left Urgent Care with a sprained shoulder, a sling to remind me not to use the wing, and the knowledge that racing on Monday was my call. By Saturday evening, I was also feeling better and decided I would be able to race.
This was also the inaugural expedition with Cletus, our inherited-from-parents adventure-mobile. Cletus would take me, Justin, the Max-dog and our bikes to Breckenridge, and we would track how thirsty the gas tank got so we could plan accordingly on future trips into the mountains.
We left Monument much later than we should have and had to rush to get to Breckenridge on time. Max-dog needed to be with our friend Chantal by 7:30, and we needed to be at check-in by 8:30 so Justin could line up for his 50-mile day and I could race the first lap of the relay.
And just past Georgetown, Cletus died a horrendous, smoke-filled death. As Justin coaxed the poor beast to the next exit, there wasn’t a car within a mile of our muffler who could see the freeway. It was 8am.
As Justin got on the phone with his parents and AAA, I called Sara and her dad Stuart.
Sara decided she would be able to get ready in time to race the first lap instead of the second. Stuart was also kind enough to come back down the mountain and pick me up so I could race the second lap.
Since Justin was missing the start of the 50-miler, he decided to stay with the van and the Max-dog until his dad arrived from Greeley with the flatbed. I knew Sara and Stuart were headed to Leadville after the race, so I needed to find another ride back down the mountain. Unsure if Justin would be in Greeley, Monument, or somewhere in between by the end of the day, but knowing that half of Denver’s cycling community was in Breckenridge for the race, I was confident I could beg a ride back to Denver. Justin and I could figure how to get me home from there.
My friend Katie offered me a spot in the shade of her tent, and—since I hadn’t planned on needing to eat before my race—her friends fed me cookies and brownies.
As my teammate Sara came into the staging area, she was exhausted and all smiles.
Stuart was there to help us quickly transfer the race plate from her bike to mine, and gave me a surprise push up the hill.
My lap was great—I got to do it! Also the trails were fun, the dirt was tacky, and I felt great.
When I crossed the line Chantal was ready with a cold beer. Shortly after that, Bella and I were trying to find each other so we could head back to Denver before traffic was too bad. In the midst of our hunting, Justin called me and asked where I was, “I’m in Breckenridge and looking for parking. Where are you?”
His dad and mom had driven two trucks down from Greeley so that could leave one with Justin. I thanked Bella for her offer and told her she didn’t need to wait for me anymore.
This race had so many opportunities to not happen, and the only reason it did was because of the kindness of teammates, friends, and family. I’m so thankful I have such a supportive community, and that Sara and I were able to do the Firecracker together.