Short track race a breath of fresh air
KEYSTONE – For once in Summit County, no lung-busting climbs are on the itinerary for this mountain bike race.
The Mountain Sports Outlet (MSO) Mountain Bike Race Series picks up again this weekend with the Accelerator Short Track around the Keystone Resort base area. The race format promises to be a far cry from the usual brand of local mountain bike racing.
“It’s somewhere between NASCAR and BM racing,” said Keystone mountain bike trails crew foreman Greg Rood, who helped build the short track loop. “It’s going to be action-packed. The pros will be doing it in like two minutes. It’s going to be different (than typical mountain bike races), because it’s an ongoing sprint. It’s only 100 vertical feet.”
In contrast to the last bike race at Keystone – the 2,400-foot elevation gaining Uphill that had about 300 riders sucking wind from the base to the top of Keystone Mountain – the short track race consists of a fast dirt loop measuring just under a mile. Riders, depending on their category, will make multiple rings around the course. Many in the cycling industry consider the format to be the mountain bike counterpart to criterium racing in road biking.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook about this race,” said MSO marketing manager and race organizer Don Maneth. “There’s only been a few people who know what short track racing is. What NORBA (National Off Road Bicycling Association) did when they invented the short track was try to have something similar to a criterium on dirt. The short track is one of the largest-growing events. You can see everything from the base area, it’s fast so there’s lots of action, and it’s something spectators can really watch and cheer for. It’s fun if you’re racing and it’s fun if you’re watching.
“You’re going to be racing hard and fast. Racers are saying, “I want that thrill, and this is cool, because I don’t have to go climb for six miles.’ The climbing is regulated, and there’s no granny gear.”
The Short Track is a NORBA-sanctioned race, which means racers must have a NORBA license to compete. Day licenses can be purchased for $12 at the Mountain House. Expert riders race for 20 minutes around the course, then do three additional loops. Sport riders do 15 minutes and three loops, and juniors do three loops.
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