GoPro Mountain Games brings first ebike race to Vail
The next wave of mountain bike racing is here
The final day of the GoPro Mountain Games saw the first-ever ebike race in Vail, starting and finishing at the base of Golden Peak and taking riders both uphill and downhill, over and around jumps and even a snowfield.
The inaugural event saw over 60 competitors take to the Mountain Games course in three divisions: juniors, amateurs and pros.
“This is a historic day here in Vail,” said Steven Sheffield, strategic marketing manager for Bosch eBike Systems, the sponsor of the Mountain Games race along with Troy Lee Designs.
Local ebike company QuietKat was also seen around the racing venue, based out of Eagle.
“I think the biggest thing is people think an ebike is something with a throttle, where these are pedal-assist and you pedal them just like a bicycle,” said Victor Sheldon, 52, of San Diego, who competed in the pro division a day after winning the expert cross-country mountain-bike race at the Mountain Games. “It helps you get places not so much faster, just easier.”
Ebikes in the race assisted riders up to speeds of 20 mph, helping them on the uphill portions of the course. Weighing about 50 pounds, the bikes also help bring some extra speed downhill, too.
“With everybody on ebikes, it’s still going to be the strongest riders and the riders with the most skill that come out on top,” Sheffield said.
The course for the inaugural Mountain Games ebike race featured wooden jumps, rolls and ramps as well as a tunnel, all with views of the Gore Range. Riders were given the option to go around the features as well.
“There’s even a snowfield up there, bringing in some of the ski resort vibe,” Sheffield said. “It’s such a great location for an ebike event.”
Racers were respectful in the inaugural ebike event, all finishing with a bit of mud from the course.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Amory Kindle, 14, of Salida, who competed in his first ebike race at the Mountain Games. “It was nice going uphill compared to a normal bike.”
Bosch supplies ebike systems to many top brands in the industry, Sheffield said, and also hosts ebike races across the country. However, this was the first one in Vail. He said the ebikes is the fastest growing segment in the bicycle industry.
“Anyone whose ridden one, it’s easy to understand why,” he said.
Sheffield said he hopes to bring the race back again next year.