Copper racers, get ready to go higher |

Copper racers, get ready to go higher

Shauna Farnell

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Both the Vail Mountain Challenge Series and the Summit Mountain Challenge Series live up to their names this Wednesday when racers go head-to-head in a combined race at Copper Mountain.For the first time in the Vail series’ 21-year history and Summit’s 19-year history, the two entities will join forces as well as size up the competition from each side of Vail Pass.More than 500 racers are expected Wednesday, and race organizers have planned accordingly with five separate course lengths, all of which involve loops of service road and singletrack climbing and tricky singletrack descents.”The hardest part climbing-wise is that last singletrack section,” said course designer Jeff Westcott of Maverick Sports Promotions, governing body of the Summit series. “Also, one’s ability to keep momentum on the circuitous descent – the trail design is across the hill, so good bike handling around those corners is going to pay off.”All categories except for beginner women and juniors will have to ride one nine-mile loop. Pro/expert men and women, sport men, Clydesdales and singlespeed riders have to ride an additional five-mile loop. The long loop consists of steady climbing for 2.1 miles on service road to blue-rated Elk Alley singletrack. Combined road and singletrack will bring about 1.5-miles of additional climbing, the final singletrack section of which is a fierce slog in the small chain ring. The descent begins on service road and continues on Elk Alley and Red Tail singletrack, both of which feature tight switchbacks and traverses where pedaling is necessary. Race organizers point out that considerably staggered start times should prevent severe overlapping of race categories on-course. Juniors begin racing at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and the final group – sport men 45-plus and Clydesdales – don’t start until 5:53 p.m.”The way the start times are laid out, it’s going to flow really nicely,” Westcott said. “I don’t have much concern about excessive crowding on the course. The only people who are doing more than one lap are the latter start group.” Each loop on-course will be marked “small,” “medium” and “large.” Because the race is combined, all racers must register again and get new bib numbers. Category start times, course lengths and parking information is available at and at For more information, call 479-2280.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

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