The Mountain RATS Firebird 25 is a popular mountain bike event in Colorado taking place in September in Eagle, Colorado, and rated by Strambecco as one of the best MTB events in Colorado and the Rockies. The event is part of the Mountain RATS Festival which also includes a trail running event the same day, Mountain RATS Trail Runs, one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Rockies. The race organizer, Gemini Adventures, helps make this a true end-of-summer outdoor celebration, bringing athletes to Eagle Ranch with the festival of fun and endurance challenge.
Nestled in the picturesque town of Eagle, this unique biking race serves as the perfect amalgamation of grueling athleticism and scenic beauty. As fall beckons, riders from all over gather to test their skills, endurance, and passion against the backdrop of the rugged trails of the Rockies. And it's not just about the race; it's a celebration, a coming together of the community to herald the changing seasons with food, music, and camaraderie.
Event & Course Info
The Mountain RATS Firebird 25 is a challenge even for the seasoned rider. As you pedal out from the heart of Eagle, prepare for an enthralling ride spanning 25 miles and an impressive elevation gain of over 4,000'.
The initial phase takes you on a smooth 2-mile ride along Eagle Ranch Road and Haystacker Drive. However, the real thrill begins as you veer onto the Turniphead Trail, marking the onset of your dirt trail journey. The course promises variety, from the sage-covered high desert terrains to breathtaking aspen groves. The route is filled with intense uphill grinds, sweeping views, and technical descents. Aid stations, strategically positioned at intervals, are stocked with all the essential refueling goodies like gels, potato chips, and energy drinks, though riders are advised to carry their hydration solutions given the eco-friendly approach of the event.
As you traverse challenging sections like the steep hike-a-bike on Mike’s Night Out Trail and the swift, flowy parts of the World’s Greatest Trail, the true essence of mountain biking in Colorado’s pristine outdoors is captured. The finishing touch is the serpentine descent leading to the Horton Street Trailhead, followed by a short stint to the finish line. Here, riders can indulge in some post-race relaxation with live music and food at venues like Color Roasters, El Segundo, and Boneyard.
Finishers receive customized dog tag mementos, with special cowbell awards awaiting the top performers across various categories. There's also a cash prize challenge for the quickest male and female riders between specific aid stations. And if that isn't enticing enough, winners earn a free entry to the next year's race.
Kick-off your ride at 12:00 pm MTB, but ensure you have prepped well. The race promises mechanical support throughout, with an emergency medical technician available for any contingencies.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
Colorado is gorgeous all year, but September in Eagle for the Mountain RATS Firebird 25 is a great way to end the summer and welcome fall before preparing for ski season. The host hotel for the event is Quality Inn and Suites, however there are plenty of other options in the area such as Beaver Creek Lodge and the Westin. If you prefer a more home-like experience, there are tons of vacation rentals to choose from from riverside homes to condos. Although it will start to get chilly at night during this time of year, there are also many campgrounds and one of a kind camping locations in the surrounding area.
For those looking for meals beyond the festival, there are many options in Eagle, Edwards, Vail, or nearby at Copper Mountain Resort. The area boast a diverse culinary scene that reflects its mountainous charm, with a mix of rustic eateries, contemporary bistros, and farm-to-table offerings that highlight local produce and Colorado flavors. From hearty mountain fare to innovative dishes, the region provides a gastronomic adventure set against a backdrop of natural beauty. Local restaurants include Mamma's Italiano, The Eagle BBQ, and High Rockies Whiskey and Wine Bar. One of our personal favorites in Eagle is Hovey & Harrison.
Eagle serves as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially as the summer heat transitions into the crisp embrace of fall. As mid-September starts to paints the landscape with hues of gold and red, athletes will find a treasure trove of activities awaiting them. If you are looking for some more mountain bike trails, one of the most popular trails is the Boneyard Loop, which promises exhilarating descents and challenging climbs. With views overlooking the town and the distant mountains, it's an idyllic route for both beginner and advanced riders. Also, think about exploring the Haymaker Trail, known for its flowy nature.
For those who prefer their adventures on foot, the Sylvan Lake State Park offers an exquisite tapestry of trails suitable for hiking and trail running. Just a short drive from Eagle, the park's main attraction, Sylvan Lake, is encircled by scenic trails that offer panoramic views of the water against a backdrop of aspen trees, especially radiant during the fall. One recommended route is the Sneve Gulch Loop, a moderately challenging trail spanning roughly 6 miles, perfect for a mid-September excursion when the aspen leaves start to shimmer in golden glory.
Finally, the Eagle River, with its clear waters and abundant trout population, is a dream destination for fly fishers. By mid-September, brown and rainbow trout are active, making it an ideal time for both novice and experienced anglers to test their skills. Several local outfitters offer guided trips, ensuring that visitors get the most out of their fly fishing experience. The stretch near Chambers Park is particularly recommended for its serene environment and healthy fish population.
Gemini Adventures, founded in 2003 by passionate runners, cyclists, and adventurers, curates challenging backcountry racing experiences set against mesmerizing landscapes primarily in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. With events held in remote, scenic trails, participants can anticipate not just a race, but a unique outdoor experience where the journey is as rewarding as the competition. Their primary events include the Desert RATS Trail Running Festival which is part of the UTMB World Series, and Adventure Fest which is a unique multi-sport experience in Fruita, CO and includes Sarlacc Attack 50K MTB, Fruita Trail Half Marathon, and Dirty Edge Gravel one of the Best Gravel Events in Colorado and the Rockies. In July, Enchanted Forest Trail Races, one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Southwest, takes place as well as the multi-day Desert RATS 150 Kokopelli Stage Race take place. And to close out summer, the Mountain RATS Trail Runs and Mountain RATS Firebird 25 MTB event takes place in September.