Thr process of elimination
KEYSTONE – The Eliminator Downhill race might live up to its name at Keystone Saturday when it descends more than 2,000 vertical feet on one of the longest, most technical courses in the country.
“It’s definitely not an easy course,” said Don Maneth, marketing director for Mountain Sports Outlet, the driving force behind the four-race series at Keystone, which included the Uphill and the Short Track, and will wrap up Aug. 24 with a 12-hour race.
The Eliminator course begins at the top of Keystone Mountain and consists of a series of the ski area’s more challenging blue- and black-rated singletrack trails, none of which make for a smooth ride.
“It’s pretty technical,” Maneth said. “Punk Rock and Cowboy Up are pretty difficult to ride, but Wild Thing is extremely difficult. There’s not a lot of really demanding, technical downhill courses in the state. In this, you’ve got some really great singletrack and pretty wide-open logging road sections. This course offers so many aspects of true mountain bike downhill riding. It’s truly a downhill race; there’s not really any pedaling sections.”
Race organizers said the downhill course is close to five miles long, and top riders probably will finish in 12 or 13 minutes.
“It’s the best downhill course around,” said Greg Rood, bike crew leader at Keystone. “We’re really proud of the work we’ve done – keeping erosion down and keeping up the trails. We’ve put in berms so riders can keep their speed up and so they don’t go flying off the trails. I’m hoping to someday have a national race on this course. It’s a lot less pedally than most.”
The Eliminator course is the same one used in the downhill final of the Mountain States Cup Snake River Festival, which kicks off Aug. 31. Although the Eliminator is a great opportunity for States Cup riders to practice for the race, organizers also feel it is a good opportunity for riders just getting started in downhill racing.
“I think there will be a lot of people coming up from Denver to race,” Maneth said. “Besides the experts practicing for the Mountain States Cup, we’ll get a lot of beginners that have never raced. It’s a good chance for them to race on an established course that top-notch riders ride on, but where the competition won’t be as stiff. It’s also a good value compared to some of the national races.”
The Eliminator Downhill is sanctioned by the National Off Road Bicycling Association (NORBA) and requires a NORBA license. Racers without a NORBA card can purchase a one-day license for $5.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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