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Vail Recreation District bike race brings out best of old, new Vail
The racers get ready for action at the July 8, 2009 Vail Recreation District's Vail Mountain Grind.
Photo by Tom Boyd 

Vail Recreation District bike race brings out best of old, new Vail

By Tom Boyd

July 11, 2009 —  For a moment, it felt as if we were sitting trackside at the 2001 UCI World Mountain Biking Championships. Lean riders flew downhill only inches past a large boulder where my family and I had found a perch on a large slab of granite. Sponsored jerseys streaked by one by one, then in clumps, male and female, an endless snake of thin, strong, biking machines.

Despite the pro riders, sponsored jerseys, clumps of spectators and general sense of fanfare at the July 8 race, it wasn’t the World Championships … it was our Vail Recreation District Town Race Series (for more on the series, and to see results, visit

In any other town, in any other state, a town race series may not seem like a big deal. But one glance at pro rider Jay Henry streaking past us in his Tokyo Joe’s jersey and I realized, once again, that the “local” talent in this town can hold its own against the best in the world (as Henry has done at the WMBC’s in the past).

Division winners
Women's sport: Iya Cunningham

Men's sport: Brandon Bancker

Men's pro: Jay Henry

Women's pro: Gretchen Reeves

Women's expert: Cait Boyd

Men's vet expert: Adam Plummer

Women's vet expert: Ann Krieg

Men's expert: Jake White

Men's masters: Peter Davis

Men's beginner: Kyle Hagberry

Women's beginner: Annemarie Wall

Singlespeed: Travis Colbert

Clydesdales: Chris Kehoe

Junior: Forest Henzler

Men's vet sport: Greg Shea

Men's expert: Rob Veitch 

Vail Recreation District bike race brings out best of old, new Vail
Jay Henry, in the Tokyo Joe's jersey at front, prepares for yet another dominating performance at the town race series.
Photo by Tom Boyd 

There were things old and new about the Wednesday race. Henry, for example, marked the fastest pro time among men. Gretchen Reeves blazed trail for the women, marking the fastest pro time. Needless to say, we’ve seen that before from both of them.

But the course was new and exceedingly refreshing to ride, Henry said after the race, for the first time since he took on Vail Mountain in high school, when he was as well known for his leading role on the hockey team as for his prowess on the fat-tired bikes.
Mike Kloser was certainly recognizable as he scrambled to deal with a technical problem only moments before the race began. The one-time world champion biker and world-renown eco-challenge racer caught a smattering of jovial pot-shots as he held up the race in search of a leatherman … we are still seeking word if Kloser made it through the start-line or not.

Many of the faces were new, however – my own included. I haven’t covered the mountain bike scene regularly for a few years. There were also many, many newcomers and beginners – people who come out and enjoy the race for all it has to offer, setting their own personal goals and seeking to raise their own personal bar (Ingrid McGinley, for example, told me her goals were to finish the race and keep Jay Henry from lapping her).

Vail Recreation District bike race brings out best of old, new Vail
Outta the way boys! Cait Boyd has climbed the ranks quickly in her first year of mountain biking.
Photo by Kienan Boyd Hilmer 

The final event was perhaps the most new and refreshing of all: the party afterward at Arrabelle. Cozy and grand at the same time, the Arrabelle is a far cry from the Stalinist Lionshead of old. Blue Moose pizza was thriving on a pizza special while the Chop House next door was packed with onlookers who could watch the race, sample a steak, and enjoy the magic tricks of Danny Archer (one of the best in the business, by the way), all at the same time.

And, of course, my own personal favorite old/new dichotomy: just like days of old, when my brother used to race, a Boyd was atop the standings. But this time it was someone new: my sister, Cait Boyd, has careened to the top of the expert class standings in only her first year – congrats Cait!



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