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100k race highlights Bike Fest weekend

June 16, 2011
By LOU REUTER, News Senior Sports Writer
WILMINGTON — There will be bikes, bikes and more bikes buzzing around the Olympic Region this weekend as the inaugural Wilmington/Whiteface 100-kilometer Mountain Bike Race takes place on Sunday. The first-time event, which will serve as a qualifying race for the annual Leadville, Colo. 100k coming up in August, will feature a field of nearly 300 bikers. It’s part of the Wilmington Bike Fest weekend in the area, which includes Saturday’s annual Whiteface Mountain Uphill race and a variety of other bike-related events and vendors. Due to the increasing popularity of the Leadville 100k mountain bike race, Sunday’s event is one of three qualifying races that are new this year. In the past, entering the Leadville event was by a lottery, which still exists but will be supplemented by the trio of qualifiers. The other two qualifying races are in Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Crested Butte, Colo. “This is not a typical mountain bike race,” said Wilmington/Whiteface technical race director Dave Weins, who hails from Gunnison, Colo. and has competed in several Leadville races. “Most mountain bike races include multiple loops at ski areas. They tend to be more technical, singletrack races. “This one has broader appeal. There certainly are trails through the woods, and some serious hills, but this race also crosses gravel roads and paved roads,” Weins added. “We’ll see road racers, mountain bike racers, triathletes and new riders on the course. There’s a little something for everyone, including a descent down Whiteface, and that descent down Whiteface will certainly be a white-knuckle descent.” Weins first competed in the Leadville race in 2003, an event that drew about 750 riders. He said it has seen a steady growth in popularity, and really took off when Lance Armstrong was among the participants. Instead of having just a lottery system to draw riders, the qualifiers are expected to produce bikers who should be able to take on the rugged Colorado event. On Sunday, 50 of the top finishers will earn spots in the Leadville race, with an additional 50 more who compete and finish with respectable times earning berths through the lottery. “The way we have it set up, there’s a good certainty that those who are selected will have the ability to finish the Leadville within the 12-hour time limit,” Weins said. Sunday’s race will start at the Whiteface Mountain bridge, make a climb in the Jay Range and culminate with a tough 2,655-foot trek up Whiteface before reaching the finish line. Although there will be varied terrain along the way, racers will obviously need an endurance factor to finish the 57-mile course within the alloted 8-hour time limit that includes cutoffs along the way. One rider who will be trying the race is Olympic luge athlete Chis Mazdzer of Saranac Lake. Mazdzer, who described himself as more of an explosive athlete and not an endurance racer, was checking the course out for the first time on Wednesday with a trial ride. “When I first signed up, I thought it was going to be a singletrack race through the woods,” Mazdzer said. “Then I found out it was going to be a test of endurance that goes over paved roads. My longest training session so far has been a 30-mile ride. I have such a busy week coming up. I’ll be at a wedding Saturday. I’ll probably get 4 1/2 or 5 hours of sleep, so I’ll literally be toughing it out on Sunday.” “I know once I get on singletrack in the woods, I’ll be loving it,” Mazdzer added. “Once I get on the roads, we’ll see what happens. Usually, I surprise myself. You know me, I’m not a quitter.” Weins said the Wilmington/Whiteface race is slated to be held for three years, as are the Lake Tahoe and Crested Butte qualifiers. He added the races have plenty of room to grow, as do the qualifier series. “Next year we’d like to do five qualifiers and nine the year after that,” Weins said. “The Lake Placid, Wilmington, Whiteface race was a no-brainer, because the history of the area has of pulling off events like this one. That began with the 1980 Olympics. “This year, we have a West Coast qualifier, one in the Rockies and one in Upstate New York to cover the Northeast,” Weins added. “We’re looking to grow, but this week, what’s really important is putting on the best possible race we can. We’re really excited.”

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of ORDA
Bikes will be everywhere this weekend as the Wilmington Bike Fest is slated to host a variety of events.



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