Keystone explodes into a festival of fat tires
KEYSTONE – There probably won’t be many beer guts in sight this weekend during the Snake River Fat Tire Festival at Keystone.
Not only is the event a celebration of all mountain bike disciplines, but it will also be the culmination of the Mountain States Cup Race Series, in which the best riders in the region will compete in world-class observed trials, cross-country and downhill races.
“It’s one of the top mountain biking events in Colorado, due to the fact that it’s the finals,” said Sy Meheen, mountain bike events manager at Keystone. “Pretty much the whole Rocky Mountain region shows up for it. Since it started eight years ago, it’s gotten to be huge.”
Hundreds of riders from all over Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona will compete in the ninth and final race of the series at Keystone. The Mountain States Cup Series is sanctioned by the National Off Road Bicycling Association (NORBA), and is conducted at different venues throughout Colorado. The finale at Keystone is considered by riders and organizers to be one of the more challenging to wrap up the season, with circuit style cross-country racing and observed trials Saturday, the point-to-point race Sunday and the downhill race Monday.
“We’re really excited about this event because we’re bringing the stage race back,” said Snake River Fest organizer Thane Wright of the circuit and point-to-point races, the times for which will be combined as a stage race for States Cup competitors.
“The courses are some of the more challenging in the series,” Wright said, “Both because of the altitude, and the climbing.”
The circuit race will take place on the “11-7” trail at the top of Keystone Mountain. The trail is a rolling 2.5-mile loop named after its elevation – 11,700 feet.
“That will surprise some of the athletes that aren’t used to the altitude,” Wright said.
Pro-expert men will ride the loop four times, pro-expert women and all sport categories ride it three times and beginners and juniors go around twice.
The point-to-point course that follows Sunday will pose different challenges. Riders will begin at the base of Keystone Mountain and weave their way to the top on single-track and on Jack Straw Road. The descent will involve a slightly more difficult configuration of single-tracks. Depending on their race category, competitors will ride courses that are between six miles for juniors and 26 miles for pro men. No cross-country racers need fear Wild Thing, as the notoriously difficult, obstacle-laden trail will not be included in the course this year.
The observed trials event Saturday will take place around River Run village and will be a spectacle of what event organizers refer to as, “the true balance athlete.” Riders will be judged on their ability to hop onto rocks and benches and their agility in poising themselves on their bikes.
Taking it on with armor, downhill racers will be the only competitors to tackle Wild Thing. They will also ride through Cowboy Up, and a series of steep, downhill-specific trails in Monday’s race, which will take place on a top-to-bottom, four-mile course on Keystone Mountain.
The races will showcase virtually every trail at Keystone, which has drawn praise from Snake River Fest organizers on its trail maintenance during this dry summer.
“Our bike crew does just amazing work,” Meheen said. “Their diligence in maintaining the trails, even in this dry summer, and (their) passion for keeping the trails in top shape has been phenomenal.”
A kid’s race, free recreational rides, stunt demos, gear expos and live music will also pulse through Keystone during the weekend.
Snake River Fat Tire Fest
For race times or more information about the Snake River Fat Tire Festival, visit http://www.mtnstatescup.com or http://www.keystoneresort.com. Racers can pre-register for events until 11:59 p.m. tonight at http://www.mtnstatescup.com.
Registration fees vary depending on the event, but range between $25 and $50. There will be a $10 fee for on-site registration which begins at 5 p.m. in River Run Plaza, and no race-day registration available for the downhill race. All racers are required to have a NORBA license. One-day licenses can be purchased for $5 at River Run throughout the weekend. Course maps are available at Keystone Sports in River Run.
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