Six months ago to the day, Cobe Freeburn was in a hospital with a broken leg after a bicycle versus car accident. Sunday, the Durango High School junior was back on his bike in one of the best performances of his life.
Freeburn went wire-to-wire to win the Colorado High School Cycling League varsity boys mountain bike state championship Sunday at Durango Mesa Park. He gave the Durango High team 575 points to help solidify the team’s second consecutive Division 2 state championship in the league, and the DHS team surrounded one of their heroes to celebrate the state title on home soil.
“It was so fun having a home race, and I felt awesome today,” Freeburn said. “We cemented the win today for the team, and it’s awesome to be part of.”
Durango scored 4,846 points during the weekend that started with Colby Simmons’ win in the freshman boys race. Animas High was second with 4,233 points, and Highlander Composite was third with 4,034 points. Boulder won Division 1 with 7,479 points, while Fairview High, also of Boulder, was second with 6,913 points. Golden was third with 6,426 points.
For Freeburn, Sunday’s win capped off a tough year in which he couldn’t walk for more than two months after the accident forced him out of the peak of the summer mountain bike season.
“Exactly six months ago today, I got hit by a car and broke my leg,” he said. ‘I was riding up on 3rd (Avenue) near the Smiley Building. It was a dumb mistake on my part. I rode in front of a lady, and she hit the back of my bike. I flew off and shattered my leg. This year, it was a little tough those first few high school races, but every race, I got better and better I’m super happy to pull this off here.”
Freeburn’s win capped off a huge weekend of mountain biking, as 822 young mountain bikers hit the trails in the first-ever high school league race held in Durango. Freeburn fought off Animas High School junior and reigning cross-country mountain bike junior men’s 15-16 national champion Riley Amos, as Amos eventually faded to fourth place at the finish line.
Freeburn came to the finish line alone in 1 hour, 47 minutes, 6.54 seconds after more than 28 miles of racing. He was 28 seconds ahead of Golden sophomore Ryan Campbell and 39 seconds in front of Boulder junior Jared Scott.
Amos was the south conference champion during the regular season, and he was set to start Sunday’s race from the front row. But he missed his call-up and was penalized by being sent to the middle of the 89-rider field for the race. He had to give everything he had to get back into the top five at the halfway mark of the first lap. He eventually finished fourth in 1:48:16.36.
“I mistimed my warm-up,” Amos said. “I think I got there like three minutes late, and they were already calling people up. I felt like an idiot. It was my mistake, and I paid for it. I felt good today and definitely could’ve been there for the win, but I gave it my all, and I’m happy with fourth.
“I basically set a new max heart rate for 15 minutes straight. I was in the grass, outside the trail going as hard as I possibly could. I probably passed 40 people in 15 minutes. I went so hard, I was about to blackout and couldn’t focus enough. The start killed me.”
Amos was thrilled to see his friend Freeburn come through with a state championship performance. He helped the Animas Ospreys to a second-place finish in Division 2.
“Cobe knew we were all petering off. He felt out the race and gave everything he had,” Amos said. “It’s well deserved. He’s been strong all year, but he was something else today.”
Also for Animas in the varsity boys race was Simon Donnaway, who placed 25th in 1:58:23.18.
There were 160 boys in Sunday’s sophomore boys race that was won by Peyton Wilkerson of Estes Park. He completed two laps on the 7.1-mile course in 55:11.66, 31 seconds ahead of Evergreen’s Zach Footer. Thorin Howell of the High Desert Devo composite team made up of riders from Cortez, Dolores and Mancos was third in 55:59.78. Howell lives in Cortez.
“It was a challenge,” Howell said. “There was good competition out there. I had more nerves, and this was definitely bigger with more on the line than any other race, but I just went out and had fun.”
Animas’ Leit Schafer was the top-Durango rider in the sophomore boys class, as he finished 26th in 1:00:20.66. Durango’s Hayes Linney placed 37th in 1:01:32.50.
Across the board, it was a banner weekend for Durango mountain biking at a beautiful, never-before-used venue at Durango Mesa Park. A three-year quest to bring a Colorado League race to town proved fruitful, and league executive director Kate Rau said the league will definitely return to Durango for the state championships next season, if Durango will have it.