Numbers are up for Mountain Challenge
And so goes the town mountain bike race series. Numbers were up this year 25 percent, said race director Heather Bernard, and the Vail Recreation District is already planning changes. Last year, around 1,200 riders competed in the six-event circuit, while this year, 1,500 did the same. The largest race was Hammer in the Hay, the initial event on 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, that attracted 310 riders. Mike Ortiz, sports supervisor for the district, said before the season they expected 150 people per race.
“We’re hoping and going to talk to the bike shops to come up with new courses and new places,” Bernard said. “I’d like to try a few things, with the help of the U.S. Forest Service and sponsors.”
The riders, meanwhile, seem pleased.
“Absolutely,” said Edwards’ Blair Young Wednesday, after being asked if she’d do the circuit again. She rode four of the six races this season, her first. “My favorite? Probably the Camp Hale Ride. It was tough, but worth it.”
Good weather persisted for the first five races, while the rain at the season finale dwindled the number of finishers and those registered.
“I did all the races this season,” said Avon’s Ann Darby. “I would say my favorite was the Beaver Creek Hill Climb. I got to win.”
Change is the norm for the young series. Before this season, organizers added a new timing system and a men and women’s masters division.
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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.