WinterBike race returns to Copper |

WinterBike race returns to Copper

Erica Marciniec
summit daily news

It’s a bike race – in the dark, on snow – and it returns to Copper Mountain for a second year today.

Now called WinterBike, the event is part of the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race Series put on by the Lake County bike club, Cloud City Wheelers. Though the series has been around since the mid-’90s, the group took it over around 2007.

“We’re here to promote and expand cycling,” said Sterling Mudge, chair. “This is a grassroots race series, all put on by volunteers. We’re not in the business of making money off the races.”

Instead, he said, the money goes toward cycling advocacy. In the last three years, the group has built seven miles of singletrack in Lake County.

“We’re trying to raise money for trail building and bike stuff,” he said.

Three of the four races in the Leadville series take place at night, including the one at Copper. Aside from the fact that putting on a race that attracts more than just a few cyclists would be a logistical nightmare to do during the day at Copper, Mudge said, the snow conditions are generally better at night. Plus, people also seem to enjoy the added challenge of riding with lights.

Participants often ride their normal mountain bikes, though the general rule is that fatter is better.

“Most people ride as big of a tire as they have and as wide of a rim as their normal mountain bike holds,” Mudge said.

In the last three years, however, he indicated that there’s been an explosion on the market of manufacturers building fat bikes designed specifically for snow and sand riding. Now, there are a lot of components available, and tires can range from 3-4.5 inches wide.

“With these fat bikes you can do a lot more,” Mudge said. “I rode singletrack the whole entire winter last year with my fat bike.” Whereas normal tires would sink, he said, “the increased width of the tire and wheel (on a fat bike) makes you float on the snow.”

Normal mountain bikes outfitted with the fattest tires possible will do the trick for Saturday’s event, although some people may need to get off and run during parts of the course, he said.

“You can expect to fall down and watch other people fall down,” Mudge said. “You make a good time of it and have a beer afterward. It’s a $20 race, not a $60 race to go hurt yourself on.”

The course is new and runs through Center Village. Racers take off at 6 p.m. in front of Jack’s deck and do three 2.9-mile laps. The race culminates at the same location, where an announcer and DJ from the Red Bull MXT will be keeping the crowd entertained.

“It is a great spectator area for people to hang out and cheer on the racers,” said Copper spokeswoman Austyn Williams.

Copper will send off fireworks to start the race and conclude with a fireworks show, too. The event coincides with the resort’s En Fuego celebration and Safety Fest.

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