Mountain bike race takes riders through historic Camp Hale |

Mountain bike race takes riders through historic Camp Hale

Chris Freud
Natalie Biedermann glides through wildflowers and aspens during the Camp Hale Hup on Wednesday in Camp Hale. The race was the fifth of seven in the 2016 VRD Westin Athletic Club Mountain Bike Race Series.
Chris Dillmann | |

CAMP HALE — There are a lot of bike races locally, but not many with a history like Wednesday’s.

The Camp Hale Hup, the latest in the 2016 VRD Westin Athletic Club Mountain Bike Race Series, took riders through a former World War II training facility that used to house as many as 14,000 soldiers.

“It’s cool. There’s a lot of history up here,” said Erik Dorf, of West Vail. “It’s fun to see all the buildings around, a lot of history, a lot of great riders on a beautiful afternoon, nice weather it’s perfect.”

“We have a business close to Ski Cooper where they learned how to ski,” Leadville’s Roxanne Hall said. “Great history.”

And, yes, that 10th Mountain Division was housed at Camp Hale and those soldiers learned how to ski at what was then called Cooper Hill. Some guys like Peter Seibert and Earl Eaton apparently liked the skiing and thought that just north of this site might be a good place for a really big ski resort.

“Your mind wanders a little bit,” Eagle Vail’s Pavan Krueger said. “We were talking about years ago we did the race and it had a different routing, but they changed that. I was wondering if that was because there was ordinance somewhere on the trail.”

Which is a good thing. A flat tire happens, but unexploded ordinance can really wreck your day.

Here comes Mack

Depending on who’s talking, there’s time to appreciate the history of the site.

“It’s a lot of gotta-go, gotta-go. You’re blind. You’re going pretty hard,” Dorf said. “You wish you had more time afterwards having time to talk to friends and take a look a round.”

Wednesday was also a father-son outing for the Dorfs. His son Mack was also in the saddle.

“It was pretty fun,” Mack said. “The downhill was pretty fast and I liked that.”

It should be noted that the 12-year-old was making his debut in the men’s beginner category.

“Probably be beating me before long,” Erik joked.

A good day

Eagle-Vail’s Steven Kirchner now has a favorite race in the series for a very simple reason. He had one of his best races at Camp Hale.

“It’s really like a road course, so it’s a lot of power,” he said. “The key is to find the right people to work with. Luckily, tonight I was able to tag on with Robert Moehring, who is racing Clydesdale. We made a nice team coming back, so the return trip was faster than it would have been solo.”

While, of course, everyone’s on mountain bikes, the Camp Hale Hup had some elements of road riding.

“This course, it’s so fast. So riding in a group is fun,” Leadville’s Ty Hall said. “Out on these gravel roads it was like a big team time trial. Tonight is one of those nights where you could pretend you were in the peloton. Everyone was working as a group.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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