Summit Mountain Challenge mountain bike series begins Wednesday with new race divisions, eye on trail conditions
The peaks are still heavily snowcapped, but below tree line, it’s officially mountain bike season in Summit County.
The annual Summit Mountain Challenge summerlong series begins Wednesday evening on the Frisco Peninsula trails, the first of seven events scheduled throughout the summer across the county.
Race Director Jeff Westcott said there are a couple of new developments this year for the Mountain Challenge, which the longtime Breckenridge local has operated since 2001.
First, Westcott made the decision to add a second junior racing category for boys and girls ages 16 to 18. Rather than one division, those riders can choose between an expert and sport division.
Westcott said the change will make the age group more similar to adult divisions, where riders have the option of racing in expert, novice or sport.
Mountain bike series hosted by Maverick Sports
Wednesday Frisco Roundup
June 19 Gold Run Rush
July 17 Pennsylvania Gulch Grind
July 20 Breck Mtn Enduro (Rescheduled from June 22)
July 31 Soda Creek Scramble
Aug. 21 Peaks Trail Time Trial/Kids’ Frisco Nordic Center
Sept. 8 Fall Classic
Westcott said he is adding the division because he’s designed more expert-length courses in the past few years for those in the 16- to 18-year-old range to meet the demand of a very strong group of riders. At the same time, Westcott said he wanted an option for riders who would prefer a less-intense competition and that better matches athletes’ ability levels.
“It’s a nice little niche,” Westcott said. “I’m also hoping that maybe we can attract some kids that used to be part of the series that have gone on to other activities for a year or two and maybe this will entice them to come back.”
Also this year, Westcott will launch a new racing category without age restrictions: big bike open.
Westcott said the inspiration for the new division is to provide a specific race for locals who are riding mountain bikes substantially bigger than many of the lighter, cross-country bikes top Mountain Challenge racers ride.
Westcott expects many entrants in the division to ride bigger trail bikes, such as enduro bikes. The race director also said he’s hopeful creating this division will fit a demand from riders who are racing in other Mountain Challenge divisions against cross-country bikes or not partaking in Mountain Challenge events.
“Frankly, they are at a disadvantage when they are racing against somebody who is on a pure cross-country bike,” Wescott said.
Considering the lingering snowpack up high and wet, mud-season conditions in some areas, Westcott said Monday that the only change to this summer’s schedule was to move the Breck Mountain Enduro from June 22 to July 20.
“That course takes place at the Breckenridge Ski Resort, and they have quite a bit of snow still,” Westcott said.
Westcott has been in contact with the U.S. Forest Service, Summit County Open Space and Trails, and the town of Breckenridge’s Open Space and Trails department regarding any potential course reroutes due to wet conditions.
“We have the option to postpone, the option to cancel,” Westcott said. “We are always weighing all of the options. No. 1 is the protection of the resource — to avoid wet trails come hell or high water. That’s just not cool.”
On his end, Westcott said he will continue to monitor conditions. The longtime event director knows as well as anyone how quickly conditions can change.
“We’re going to get summer. Summer is going to come,” Westcott said. “It might be a little bit later, but we are going to be fine. And we’ll just not use any trails that aren’t ready to be raced on.”
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