Mountain bikers get a chance to ride the loop
BEAVER CREEK – It’s still the Ultra 100 Mountain Bike race. But this year, the race has a few different twists, and one big loop.This year’s Ultra 100 features a 20-mile loop that takes competitors around Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead.”For the past 7 years, we’ve done a 100-mile, out and back course, but we wanted to change things up,” said James Deighan of Highline Sports and Entertainment, the company that puts on the race. “We wanted to make it more exciting.”Along with the course change come an array of new entry options. In addition to the usual 100-mile individual and two-person format and the 100-kilometer individual format, there will be a 100-mile five-person team and 100K three-person team categories.”Just like in some of the 24-hour races, you’re not just responsible for you, you’re responsible for riding for your team,” Deighan said.
And the loop format, which finishes at the base of Beaver Creek, will allow spectators to get several glimpses of riders, and provide riders with the opportunity to make several stops at the aid stations.A real trackWith the race spending more time on ski mountains, competitors won’t have to worry about jeep and service roads, unlike in the previous course.”Now it’s a true mountain bike race,” Deighan said. “There’s more singletrack and some great uphill climbs. The course has really evened itself out.”
The old course had a climb of nearly 3,200 feet, but the loop course has two climbs of about 1,000 feet, as well as a few smaller climbs.”It still will be difficult, but it’s a little more fair and fun,” Deighan said. “With the (old format), you were either out in front or way behind on the climbs.”One man who may be a bit upset about the smaller climbs is former World Mountain Bike Champion Mike Kloser, who designed the new course.”I’ll take the credit if people like it,” Kloser said. “I like that we have this course and that it’s easy for everyone to get accustomed to. It has a ton of character to offer. On the flipside, it’s not the ‘You’re out in the wilderness’ feel.”Much like Deighan, Kloser believes the fewer services roads are an asset to the course.
“There’s pavement (in some areas), but it’s rider-friendly and it’s on climbs when you want to be able settle in and not worry.”The race begins at 6 a.m. and competitors can expect to finish at around 8 p.m.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado