Story by Kiersten Henry/Photo by Corey Kopischke
For Kelly Boniface, a typical day at work involves tracing the outline of Emerald Mountain’s warm morning glow as she barrels up and down its trails on her bike. Her goal? To make her profession as much fun as possible. Natural talent, coupled with a sizable community of adept mountain bikers with whom she often trains, has allowed her to do just that.
Boniface participates in about 20 professional mountain bike races per year and she consistently finishes at the top. The races she chooses vary from one to seven hours; she often competes in one as preparation for another one, although, she admits, “I don’t like to pick one race that is the end-all-be-all.”
Growing up in Attleboro, Mass., Boniface was an avid horseback rider and runner. After a brief running career at Cornell, Boniface pursued marathons, including the Boston Marathon, which she has run three times. Injuries compelled her to ease up on the running, so when she moved to Steamboat in 1998, she turned to mountain biking. Compared to running, she says, “Descending on a mountain bike is a lot more fun.”
Besides her obvious athletic ability, Boniface’s talent as a mountain biker is derived from her tireless determination. “I’m very strong-willed and stubborn,” Boniface says.
Her success has attracted a multitude of sponsors. In addition to her biggest sponsor, Moots Cycles, Boniface is backed by Honey Stinger, Smart Wool, Smith, Steamboat Pilates, CarboRocket, Aspire Wellness and Backcountry Provisions, which is owned by her husband.
With some of the most physically and mentally taxing races, including the Gunnison Growler, and Park City Point To Point, under her belt, it’s a wonder Boniface doesn’t consider herself a daredevil. “I just don’t let myself get out of control,” she says. “There are a lot of variables in mountain bike racing.”
But transcending all other variables is Boniface’s desire to simply have fun.