Eagle County cyclists kick off mountain biking season with short-track race
EAGLE — Riders spent the evening of Wednesday, April 25, kicking up some dust and knocking off the rust during the first Vail Recreation District short-track mountain bike race of the season.
In this format, intended as a warmup for 35th edition of the VRD Westin Athletic Club Mountain Bike Series, racers have 20 minutes to do as many laps as they can.
By definition, 20 minutes consist of 1,200 seconds. This can be long or short, a warmup for the season or just a workout depending on who you are.
He’s Tyler Jones
The biggest question on Wednesday was, “Who’s that guy who won the men’s expert?”
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That would be Tyler Jones, from Santa Rosa, California, an alum of Fort Lewis College, and now living in Vail.
For the Bay Area native, this was just a workout.
“I would say it’s an early season test to see where my legs are,” he said. “We’re still in the end of April. The big races are coming end of May and June.”
The big races for him are the Silver Rush 50 in July, the Leadville 100 and maybe an appearance in the Mountain Games in early June.
For those using Wednesday’s short-track race as a workout, there really isn’t a strategy.
“Feels pretty short. It’s just getting into it. It’s all out.” Glenwood Springs’ Lucca Trapani said. “You have to keep going. It’s only 20 minutes.”
Please keep in mind that Trapani has International Cycling Union (UCI) events on his calendar, including the Soldier Hollow Pro XCT in Midway, Utah.
Thus, 20 minutes is in the eye of the beholder.
“My lungs hurt. My ego hurts,” Eagle’s Nancy Mires said after competing in the sport division. “Twenty minutes is harder than you think it’s going to be. It goes slower.”
Mires is tuning up for the traditional VRD series, and happy to be back in the saddle.
Meanwhile, for Dawes Wilson, now 65 years young, there isn’t much of an offseason. Known for biking to work whatever the season, he was doing cyclocross into December and back on singletrack early this month.
“This is always hard. Twenty minutes is a long time,” Wilson said. “As I creep into more and more advanced age groups, this distance becomes harder.”
This is first of three short-track races. The series heads to 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott next week, followed by a race at Miller Ranch.
The kids get the honors of opening the summer series with the Minturn Mini Season Kickoff on May 23. The Battle at Bellyache on May 30 starts the season for the adults.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.