Mountain bikers battle dust at first town race
The buffalo did run with the first group of mens pro and expert riders, but spent the rest of the time munching on his field of dandelions. From then on, the long ride up the only hill was a cloud of dust waiting for the rest of the field.
The six-event bike series gives avid mountain bikers a chance to show off their training – or lack thereof—throughout the summer.
“We try hard,” said 41-year-old Jacqui Wood, who rode in the womens expert division. “We’re out there with all the obsessed people around here who mountain bike.”
Official results were not made available by press time.
The racers began next to a pen where Reject, along with a few sheep and a donkey were watching, and continued up the only major incline in the race. Spectators lined the finish area, which was full of back slaps and smiles as the race concluded.
The sheer number of riders exceeded VRD’s Sports Supervisor Mike Ortiz’s expectations of around 300. Part of this was the inclusion of a masters division for the first time this year.
“I think once the word gets out, we’ll start to see more masters participants,” Ortiz said. “I expect it to grow.”
A range of talent, age and experience was represented in the field, which was treated to a free drink and live music after the race. Riding through a constant haze of dust kicked up on the road and single-track course, the riders were coated by the time they finished. Some were happy, others were reminded of imperfections in their training.
“The cookies, they’re the devil,” said Ben Sokolski, racing in the masters division. “Muscle wise though, I’m doing very well.”
Mens sport racer Jason Hein just made the switch from road races to the mountain bike style. In the short, 14.8-mile course he raced Wednesday, he said he realized he missed the burn of competing.
“It’s my first race in a year and a half,” Hein said. “This is a little tougher than a road race. You can’t draft.”
The series moves to Eagle for the Eagle Classic June 5. The racers begin at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Fifth St. and Broadway. Cost for racing is $15, $20 the day of the race. Call (970) 479-2280 for information.
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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.