First race of mountain bike season and uphill all the way |

First race of mountain bike season and uphill all the way

Shauna Farnell

KEYSTONE – Uphill all the way, and there are no stretching breaks.

What better way to kick off the Summit County mountain bike season than with a 7-mile ride from the bottom to the top of Keystone Mountain?

The fourth annual Keystone Uphill Mountain Bike Challenge is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday and, as organizers put it, will “christen” the local bike race season.

“It’s a great kick-off for the summer biking season,” said Keystone special events manager Elizabeth Tobias. “It’s an endurance test. It sounds grueling, but the climbing is how people like it early in the season. It’s the first bike race in Summit County, and people use this as a beginning for their summer fitness.”

Huffing and hacking is sure to be on the itinerary too, as riders will climb 2,400 feet to the top of the dirt service road. Also, Keystone crews are opening some of the mountain’s single-tracks for the first time Saturday for riders to take down once they cross the finish line.

“It’s a chance to preview Keystone’s trail system,” Tobias said. “I won’t get the approved list for any trails to ride until the morning of the race. It’s a nice twist once people are already at the top, they have different options for how to get down.”

Once riders make their way to the bottom, an awards party and barbecue will take place in River Run, with free Kaltenberg beer and music from KSMT. Prizes will be given for men and women in different age groups for beginner, sport and expert classes. There will also be a raffle with a grand prize of a new Gary Fisher mountain bike.

New this year, the Uphill race will also be the first of the inaugural Keystone-Mountain Sports Outlet four-race series. After the Uphill, the three upcoming series races will be sanctioned by NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycling Association), and include a short track July 6, a downhill race Aug. 17 and a 12-hour race Aug. 24.

The Uphill format has historically included families as well as hard-core riders testing their early-season fitness.

“This road is opened all season, and we’ll time you officially this race, but a lot of people do the (course) again in August and September and compare their times,” Tobias said. “They’ll call up and say, “I took 20 minutes off my time.’ We’ve thought about doing the race at the end of the season too, just to let people brag.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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