Utah and Idaho mountain series join forces to offer 34 races


Welcome to cycling utah's annual mountain bike season preview. This is an opportunity for us to revisit some old friends, introduce some new events and hopefully motivate you to strap on your helmet and clip into your pedals to have some fun participating in our great sport.

If you're the typical Utah and Idaho cyclist, you're champing at the bit to get some miles under your saddle. And thanks to our mild winter, many of you have a solid mileage base.

Before we discuss the season events, we'll tell you something you already may know.

The Bud Light/Cannondale Cup race series headed by Salt Lake City's Ed Chauner has formed an alliance with Ron Dillon's Wild Rockies race series based in Boise, ID. This merger creates the largest regional, grassroots race series in the country. The series is split into three division series: the Wild Rockies North, South and Intermountain Cup (formerly Cannondale Cup). There are a total of 34 races in eight states.

It's a huge task to put on one race, can you imagine 34 races? Both Chauner and Dillon have built solid reputations for putting on quality events and this merger can only mean the racing will be even better for 1998.

Let's take a look at the Wild Rockies Intermountain Cup series. Chauner has 14 races on the schedule at diverse venues such as Las Vegas, St. George, Brian Head, Zion National Park, Park City, Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, Wendover and Jackson, WY.

The Red Rock Desert Rampage jump starts the season March 7. St. George has the distinction of starting the season as well as ending it in 1998. St. George is also site of the American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) national finals.

Is Utah recognized as a mountain bike hotbed or what? The National Championship Series finals in 1997 and now the AMBC finals in 1998. Wow!

Vegas Rocks gets April on track when racing returns to Las Vegas on April 4. Be ready for those Vegas riders, their season is winding down and theyŐre fit! The following week has racers dancing along the south shore of the Great Salt Lake at the South Beach Boogie in Tooele County.

Utah County continues to attract racers at the BBB's Showdown at 5-Mile Pass on May 2. Chauner brought mountain bike racing to the red rock country of Zion National Park last year and enthusiastically brings it back for those who missed it last year. Mark your calendar for May 9 and the Zion Ponderosa BBQ Bike Fest. Chauner says the promoter has already received calls on this event that is held at the east end on Zion towards Mount Carmel Junction. This is a course that Chauner strongly recommends to preride or just ride. At one point the course overlooks Zion and he said is worthy of stopping to gaze into the park.

Then on May 23-24 the Bordertown Challenge at Wendover, NV provides the Intermountain Cup and Wild Rockies South series participants a chance to earn double points. The Bordertown is a good venue to test your abilities against racers from another series. The course is really at Oasis, which is west of Wendover. This race also includes a downhill event.

June marks when mountain bike racing takes to the slopes. The slopes of the Wasatch Front ski resorts. On June 13 the Bear Hollow Bash gets things going at the Winter Sports Park. The very popular Spin Cycle Pedalfast at Deer Valley takes place on June 20. Then the following week on June 27 Solitude Ski Resort hosts the Chris Allaire Memorial cross country race.

Snowbird gets July off on the right foot with the Mountain Bout on July 4. By the time July 11-12 rolls around for the Brian Header at Brian Head, the snow has cleared from the 10,000 foot race course. But be fit racers, the air is thin up there.

Some good things come with city growth and development. The folks at South Mountain have been supporters of bicycle racing, both on and off road and Canyon Bicycles brings us the South Mountain Challenge on July 18 in Draper. The race will start in Draper itself and is scheduled to kick off the Draper Days Parade. The racers then make it up to the big loop course on the mountain before finishing at Draper City Park. The awards will take place at the bandstand that will be used for other city festivities.

The race series makes its return to Jackson, WY with the Snowking Classic on August 1. Chauner said people were hounding promoter Mike Geraci to put this race on again. Chauner admitted there were problems with the race when it was part of the Cannondale Cup two years ago. A list of recommendations was given to Geraci and he has enlisted the help of the community to solve the problem. Chauner expects this race to be a good one.

The series season finale will again be at Evanston. Promoter Paul Knopf has found another course about 20 miles south of Evanston in the Uinta National Forest. In sharp contrast to last yearŐs barren landscape, this year's 10-mile loop course is in the trees. Knopf has gotten a lot of feedback from racers over the years, mostly negative, and to his credit he has listened.

Idaho promoter Ron Dillon again proves that he is probably number one in accumulating road miles during the course of his season. His Wild Rockies North and South race series include events in California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington and Montana. My car needs an oil change and tire rotation just thinking about it.

The Idaho races include some popular winners: the Idaho City Excellent Adventure, Bogus Bomber, Ski Town Bike Festival and the Lava Rama to name just a few.

All three series of the Wild Rockies eventually lead to the Championship Invitational October 3 & 4 at Sun Valley, ID. The top five in series points from all categories except beginners and from each series will be invited to compete at Sun Valley. Chauner does not keep points for beginners so during the season beginner class winner's names will be put into a hat and invitations will be given to those who are picked at the end of the season.

So with 34 races to choose from in these three series, you have no excuse to not take in at least one race this season. There's probably a race right outside your back door, so pump up those tires.