Summit County Bike Guide: Keystone Uphill/Downhill preview (video)
2016 Keystone Uphill/Downhill Dual TT
What: Race No. 3 of the Summit Mountain Challenge Series, a dual time trial with a 5-mile climb up Keystone Mountain to a descent on the resort’s bike park trails
When: Wednesday, July 13 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: River Run Village at Keystone
Cost: $25 pre-register, $30 race day, $15 juniors
All SMC races have divisions for men, women, juniors and singlespeed, with multiple age brackets for each. An adult season pass for all series races (including the Fall Classic) is $175 before June 15 and buys a permanent number plate. A season pass without the Fall Classic is $125. A junior season pass (18 years and younger) is $100 through the MTB Junior League program. For more info on the series or to register for a race, see the Maverick Sports website at www.mavsports.com.
There’s something devious about a dual time trial that begins with a five-mile grind up nearly 2,000 vertical feet before an equally long, forearm-burning descent on bike park features.
But, hey, by this point in the summer, your lungs and legs should be used to it. At least that’s what the Summit Mountain Challenge folks figure for July 13, when the annual Keystone Uphill/Downhill time trial returns as the third race in the summer-long series.
The Keystone TT is one of the few held outside of Breckenridge, and, for most, it’s one of the toughest in the series. It takes everything people love about the enduro format — two stages, two separate times, one combined total to determine the overall winner — and adds a truly brutal climb, followed by an equally brutal descent on berms, tabletops, jumps and the occasional wood bridge.
A week before the race, we went out to ride the course from top to bottom. It wasn’t easy — it never is — but at least you now know what you’re in for. We’ll see you at the finish line.
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All divisions and ages begin in the Hunky Dory dirt lot at the base of the River Run Gondola. Youth riders will split off from the full course early on. For details on that route, see http://www.mavsports.com.
Ride across the skier bridge and take a right onto Easy Street.
Ride Easy Street to a left on Jackstraw Road, the longest single stretch of the climb.
Take Jackstraw to Suz’s Cruise, the first true bike park trail of the route. Finish at the top.
Begin at Suz’s Cruise at the intersection with Jackstraw.
Take Suz’s Cruise to berms and switchbacks on Mosquito Coast.
Bear onto Beans for Breakfast to get a taste of rocks and berms in the trees.
Merge on Celtic Way for a meandering roller coaster on green-level berms.
Get on Bluegrass for a short stint before merging onto River Run Trail and wood bridges through the marshy undergrowth below the gondola.
Ride River Run to the finish at Hunky Dory lot.
The grind up Jackstraw Road and Suz’s Cruise is tough, no doubt about it, but it’s also a relatively straightforward ride. Just keep your eyes forward, head low and legs pumping.
If you’re a descent junkie — and even if you aren’t — the 4.5-mile route to the finish is one hell of a wild ride. You’ll find berms, a few tabletops and small gaps, all spread between loopy switchbacks and long, meandering rides through Keystone’s thick trees. Just don’t ride the front and back brakes — your time depends on it.
All racers can park for free in the Hunky Dory lot. From U.S. Highway 6, drive past Keystone Road like you’re going to Arapahoe Basin. Take the Montezuma Road exit and drive straight through the stop sign. Follow a short distance to the first right at Hunky Dory Road, drive through the condo complex and turn right at the end of the road.
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