Fall Classic set to torture mountain bikers | SummitDaily.com

Fall Classic set to torture mountain bikers

Summit Daily file photo/Brad OdekirkMatt Ridley storms up a climb during the cross-country stage in last year's Fall Classic.

BRECKENRIDGE – You’ve raced every other Wednesday night in the Summit Mountain Challenge. You’ve done the Firecracker 50. You’ve ridden your bubkus off all summer long and now the end of the season is approaching.

It’s time for the Fall Classic.

With a long forgotten format called a mountain bike stage race, this event features three separate races in less than 48 hours to challenge every skill a racer has spent the summer developing: endurance, stamina, technical abilities and tactical skills.

After it’s all done, race promoters Jeff Westcott and Mike McCormack of Maverick Sports add the times and a winner is announced.

Stage 1: The Hill Climb

Racers show up early Saturday morning at the Peak 8 base area and fire up a 4-mile ascent of the Pioneer Trail. Breckenridge Resort is closing the trail so there’s no worry about an aberrant downhiller taking out racers.

This stage will be held time-trial style, with racers leaving the Peak 8 base area at individual intervals between 8 and 10 a.m. The final structure of start times will be determined Friday night.

After the all-out effort to the top, racers take their time down the Game Trail and get ready for the afternoon race.

Stage 2: The Circuit Race

Once again, Westcott and McCormack provide a near extinct style of racing for Saturday afternoon’s circuit race at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. With a course just under 2 miles, riders will have to sprint all out to stay up in the overall standings. Racers will complete a set number of laps on the short course based on age and class. This is arguably the most spectator-friendly version of cross country mountain bike racing.

The circuit races begin at 2 p.m. with the juniors and keep running throughout the afternoon.

Stage 3: The Cross Country

This stage is where the Fall Classic gets its name. Day 2 and it’s time for good old-fashioned cross country racing. This course has one of the most storied heritages of any cross-country course in Colorado. Once a regular stop on the now defunct Colorado Off-Road Points Series, this course almost got forgotten before Westcott and McCormack resurrected this event last September.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, every single racer registered for the event will line up on Breckenridge’s Ridge Street. Town police will then escort the peloton to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s headquarters on Wellington Avenue where the controlled start ends and the racing begins. Much like the Firecracker 50 held each Independence Day, everyone races at once towards the finish and let Westcott and McCormack sort it all out at the end.

Andrew Lee won last year’s Fall Classic with a final time of 3 hours, 57 minutes and 13 seconds.

Stage 4: The party

Put the bikes away. Take the clipless shoes off and put on a pair of flip-flops. Then head over to Carter Park where Backcountry Brewery and Hearthstone Catering are waiting with beer and food. Chill out and let Westcott and McCormack do their magic. The total times of each stages will be added together and an overall winner will be declared, as will winners for each of the sub-categories. Then a vast array of prizes will be handed out.

Extra Info:

* The $75 registration and packet pick up will be at Mountain Outfitters from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday. Saturday morning registration will be available at Peak 8, but expect a late-fee.

* Racers can ride any individual stage by itself for $35, but prizes will only be awarded to racers who compete in all three stages.

* Parking for the hill climb and circuit race is available at the Admin Lot just above the Peak 8 Fun Park lot. Parking will also be available at the Nordic Center. Breck’s free lots on Park Avenue are recommended for day two.

Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at rchittick@summitdaily.com.

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