WILMINGTON - The Wilmington/Whiteface 100k (WW100) bike race on June 17 is set to be bigger and longer than last year's inaugural event. Organizers have added an additional 12 miles to the race, which is the only Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) qualifier in the northeastern United States.
Last year's race was 57 miles, while this year's event is 69 miles in length. According to race organizet Jim Goff, there's a little leeway when it comes to "100k."
"A couple of other Leadville race series events are just under 100k, about 60 miles long," Goff said. "What the added distance really did was involve one more community into the race. Elizabethtown is now a part of this event and they're very excited about it. Also by bringing in Elizabethtown, we also added an additional 2,000 feet of climb."
Margaret Moran/Lake Placid News
Mountain bike racers line up at the start of the 2011 Wilmington/Whiteface 100. Last year's event drew more than 230 riders.
Just like last year, the WW100 will begin and end at Whiteface Mountain, in Wilmington. The alpine ski resort has long been recognized for having the greatest vertical in the east, 3,430 feet, and for hosting the 1980 Olympic Winter Games alpine competitions.
From the mountain, racers will trek through Wilmington, Jay, Keene, Lewis and Elizabethtown before returning to the Olympic mountain for a final climb of 2,500 feet and the finish line. In addition to the Whiteface climb, riders can also look forward to climbing both Jay and Saddleback mountains. Not once, but twice since this is an out-and-back race. Both of these climbs are more than 750 meters apiece.
"This is a rugged course that's going to be a challenge for everyone," said town of Wilmington supervisor Randy Preston. "There's no getting around the fact that the climbs are a big part of this race, but there's plenty of terrain for everyone.
"Sure, the field will have to be strong on the course's uphill sections, but there are plenty of flat rides, gravel and dirt roads and singletrack terrain to take advantage of as well."
Last year, more than 230 cyclists tested their metal on this grueling course. With up to 100 qualifying spots up for grabs to the LT100 in Colorado, this year's race has already exceeded last year's total and is expected to attract as many as 1,000 riders.
"We're very pleased with the growth and the excitement of this year's race," Preston said. "I think that there are a couple of reasons why the field is already larger than last year's. First, is word of mouth. The athletes who competed last summer have been our best ambassadors, telling everyone about the course and their experiences here.
"Also, the cycling community has been hearing a lot about what this area has to offer in terms of cycling opportunities. I think that Wilmington, and the region in general, are quickly becoming a cycling destination and these riders want to know what the buzz is all about."
Fifty-percent of the LT100 qualifying spots will be awarded based on performance in each division for men and women. The other 50 percent will be distributed randomly from a pool of all racers who finish under the maximum cutoff time. Since the LT100 lottery has already taken place, this is one of only six nationwide Leadville Series races in which cyclists can still qualify and compete in August's Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado.
"The popularity of the LT 100 continues to grow year after year," Goff said. "The LT100 is one of the most well-known bike races in the country and with that, more and more cyclists want to participate, but there's only so many that can qualify through the lottery. This race offers one last chance for the cyclists to get in."
The WW100 is one of the many events that will make up the Wilmington Whiteface Bike Fest from June 14 to 17. On Saturday, June 16, road cyclists will compete in the 11th annual Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race. For the first 10 years this BUMPS (Bike Up the Mountain Points Series) race has started at the beginning of the Veteran's Memorial Highway, but this year it's slated to begin at Whiteface Mountain, adding an additional three miles "to warm up" before the field climbs the fifth-highest peak in New York.
With an 8 a.m. start, participants of the WW100 will have the opportunity to enter both races. Registration for this event is available at www.bikereg.com/Net/14909.
The annual Bike Fest will also include the seventh annual 5k Downhill at Whiteface, which is expected to feature 200 professional and amateur races, a bike parade, "The Brainless not Chainless Gravity Ride," beginning from Santa's Workshop, in Wilmington, and several free family-oriented events.
For more information about the Wilmington Whiteface Bike Fest, visit www.whitefaceregion.com.
There's still time to register for the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k by logging on to www.leadvilleraceseries.com/page/show/431652-wilmington-whiteface-100. The entry fee is $105 for the general public and $95 for Life Time members. Life Time employees can enter the race for $85. The race will be capped at 1,000 riders.