cycling utah March 2000
Whet your appetite on this off-road menu
By Robert L. Truelsen
So what will be your first mountain bike race or tour of the new millennium? The year 2000 again offers some familiar and challenging venues with a few new sites thrown in.
Intermountain Cup Mountain Bike Racing Series promoter Ed Chauner has listened to the dirt crowd and pared down the series so that racers now have 11 races from which to choose.
Some notable absentee events are Las Vegas, Mesquite and Zion. Lack of support from sponsors contributed to the demise of all three events. Not enough support for the Las Vegas race was reason enough for the new ownership of the sponsor casino to pull out its support.
At Zion, the race was influential in getting the resort's name on the tourism map. Now the resort wants to be in the resort business.
But the loss of these three races may actually improve the series. "The most complaints I got from racers," Chauner said, "was that there were too many races. I think 11 races will be a happy medium between too many and too little."
Once again the series kicks off March 4 in St. George at the Red Rock Desert Rampage. The course for 2000 is the same course used for the AMBC Western Finals race last fall, known locally as "The Loop."
"The terrain is very similar to last year's race," Chauner said, "with lots of whoop-de-doos and nice rollers." Be prepared from plenty of sweet single track and classic southern Utah desert terrain.
To take the place of the Las Vegas race in April, racers will return on April Fool's day to the same site as the Rampage race. But the race will be run in the opposite direction so racers will get a totally different feel for the course.
May signals the all clear for racing to make its debut along the Wasatch Front. Bike Board & Blade's Showdown at 5-Mile Pass returns. But for 2000 the course will be the Thorpe Hills course on the south side of Hwy. 73 at the request of the Bureau of Land Management.
"I like the course even more than the old course," Chauner admitted. The course includes a long middle-ring climb on the backside with more middle-ring climbs on the front side.
This is the only course run on public lands governed by the BLM and fees have doubled for 2000. But race fees have remained the same. At press time the downhill course was still in question but a downhill will be offered.
June 10 welcomes racers to Deer Valley and the Spin Cycle Pedalfest. The Pedalfest will not be a festival event for 2000 but the race will return to one of the most tried and true national-caliber courses in Utah. But the race is being run a little earlier than years past so watch for possible course changes due to leftover snow.
The Pedalfest marks the return to the ski resorts for the Cup. Next up is the Chris Allaire Memorial race at Solitude Summer & Ski Resort June 17. Chauner hopes to be able to use the upper loop but it depends upon the leftover snow status. In any case, the lower loops will provide racers with a familiar challenge.
Dove-tailed in between the resort races is The South Beach Boogie and its contest for Best Beach Attire. The race is held in conjunction with the Tooele County Arts Festival June 24 and racers are escorted by Tooele's police department.
The race starts at Tooele City Park and participants are escorted through town to Settlement Canyon and the looped course there. Racers finish in the canyon and awards are distributed on stage at the city park.
Then it's back to the Wasatch Mountains and The 13th Annual Mountain Bout at Snowbird Resort July 1.
New singletrack was added in 1999 and it worked out well enough to include it in the 2000 edition. The start finish is at Gap Valley and the base of the chair lift. The loop is 2.7 miles with 700 vertical feet of climbing.
Brian Head looms overhead for racers on July 8-9 for cross-country and downhill races.
The series comes back to Earth, Draper that is, on July 22 for Canyon Bicycle's Draper Dash. From police escort in Tooele to leading the Draper Days Parade, racers will love showing off in front of thousands of parade watchers.
Once that fun is over, the winding, single track at South Mountain will provide even more "shicks and giggles" for the dirt crowd.
The series winds down in August with Taming The Tetons on August 12 and The Wolverine Ridge XC Race August 19.
With 1,000 feet of climbing during the 5-mile loop at Jackson Hole Resort, racers will be glad they had that altitude training at Brian Head. The resort is putting in more trails this year and Chauner hopes to include those if they're ready.
Then the series finale returns to Evanston, Wyoming and the Wolverine Ridge cross-country. The High Uintas provide deep woods racing that everyone needs to experience.
With all the mountain climbing racers will have completed during the series, there should be plenty of contestants for the "Best Legs Contest" at the awards ceremony and pizza feast in Evanston.
Unfortunately Chauner had more bad news for the mountain bike event goer. The weekly Decker Dash series has been cancelled for 2000.
Not to be out done by the BLM, the state of Utah quadrupled fees to use the Department of Motor Vehicles facility in West Valley and notified Chauner that there could be no banner advertising during the event. That last bit of news sank Chauner's sponsorship boat. And since the series was barely break even, well you do the math.
There may be hope however. The Draper series at South Mountain may begin in April. Stay tuned for that bit of news.
Ron Dillon continues to put together the Wild Rockies "Unplugged" Mountain Bike series in Idaho. A back-to-basics approach to the series emphasizes participation and fun instead of rewards.
Familiar races include the Bordertown Challenge in Oasis, Nevada May 20-21. Once a part of the Intermountain Cup series, the Oasis course has proven to be a challenging course.
The Idaho City Excellent Adventure in Idaho City happens on the June 17 and 18. This has always been a very popular event just northeast of Boise.
Then its back to Boise on August 12-13 for the Bogus Bomber race. Followed by the Brundage Bike Festival, the final event in McCall August 26-27.
For more information about the Idaho events call 208-342-3910.
This preview would be incomplete without mentioning some classic off-road events that are in our area.
First on April 7-9 is the Tour of Canyonlands. Another event that was once part of the Intermountain Cup, this race is now part of the new Mountain States Cup series. (See related story in this issue).
Then the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic happens May 27-29 in Durango, Colorado.
The Utah Summer Games features mountain bike racing June 16-17 in Cedar City.
The NORBA Nationals return July 29-30 to Deer Valley and the Mercury Tour returns August 9-13 to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Finally, the 24 Hours of Moab will challenge solo and team competitors October 14-15. Get those batteries charged up.
If racing is not your style, there's plenty of opportunity to ride for the fun of it.
Bike Fest 2000 happens in St. George March 24-26 and offers rides, contest, clinics and competitions. Then ride with the buffalos April 15 on Antelope Island at the Buffalo Bike Ride 2000 tour. Fees help fund trail development. The festival atmosphere returns to the San Rafael Swell area May 19-21 and then Brian Head August 18-20 for the Brian Head Bash Fat Tire Festival.
What better way to put the season to bed than to attend the wild Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival October 17-22 in Moab?
As you can see, there's plenty of opportunity to get down and dirty having fun in our mountains. What a way to kick off the new Millennium.