Get ready to grind
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL ” Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the Vail snowmaking department isn’t hard at work.
It’s too bad they aren’t in the business of making rain, though.
For today’s Vail Grind ” the fourth race in the Vail and Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Series put on by the Vail Recreation District ” advanced snowmaking efforts for next year may cause the course to change.
“They are digging trenches and got a little ahead of themselves,” said VRD’s Brian Doyon.
The crews are working today to try and keep the preset course useable, and race organizers will know midway through the day whether or not they’ll need to make some small changes.
“Vail Resorts is hopeful,” Doyon said.
If needed, the course will skip some of the singletrack on the snowmaking road and Liondown and stay on an access road.
Unlike last year’s race, which was first postponed due to a heavy downpour and then run in muddy conditions, the course is mostly dry this time.
“It’s a little dustier than normal,” Doyon said. “It’s in good shape. A few of the corners have dust on them that the mountain vehicles have been on.”
With a chance of rain in the forecast, the course may get what would be a welcomed soak.
The Vail Grind ” one of the regular stops in the series ” will start at Golden Peak, head up Windish Way and then start into the loop. Men’s pro and expert riders will complete four laps, going 19 miles.
“There is some good climbing,” Doyon said of the course. “There are some strong climbs up, then there are some quick and technical downhills where you can make up some time.”
Doyon expects around 200 racers, just a few less than the average as there is another mountain bike race in Summit County. After the Little League races start at 5 p.m., the adult division kick off at 5:45 p.m. with a mass start.
“There’s plenty of space to pass, and (the mass start) is part of racing,” Doyon said. “It’s a classic race.”
Last year’s men’s pro elite winner was Jay Henry, who came in at 1 hour, 4 minutes and 34 seconds. Coming in at 1:06:53, Mike Skellion grabbed second ” using only one speed.
This year, Skellion is racing for the Mountain Pedaler-East, for which the Mountain Pedaler owner and Mountain Pedaler-West racer Charlie Brown is thankful.
“Luckily he races for me,” said Brown, who then explaining his recruitment tactics. “We told he him can get all the free beer he can drink, and he said that’s the kind of team he wants to race for.”
Brown won last year’s single speed, and hopes for a top finish, but isn’t too optimistic about picking up the top finish.
“It’s almost like we’re all racing for second,” Brown said, referring to Skellion’s dominance of single speed. “Single speed (bikes) have become more popular. It’s kind of bringing it back to the days of youth.”
Through his many years of racing, Brown still enjoys the Vail venue.
“It’s part of the old World Cup course,” he said. “I love this course … not that I’m going to do good, but at least I’m having fun.”
In the team standings, Beaver Creek holds the lead with 1,600, followed by Mountain Pedaler West with 1,480. The High Maintenance team ” comprised of all women ” is in third with 1,435 points.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.