Photo Credit: Katherine Stump Fuller
Colorado's first, women-only mountain bike race kicked off last weekend under a warm sun at Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood. The event was conceived and planned by Colorado's own Yeti Beti women's mountain bike racing team and assisted on Sunday by most of the team's sponsors, loud music and cold beer.
When planning began in October for the come-one, come-all event, the team expected only 50 people total, having noticed fields of only about ten beginner women at other mountain bike races across the state. After the trail dust settled, 163 women had raced the Beti Bike Bash, 77 of which were beginners.
"As a team this may be our greatest success, far more rewarding than any team result," said Amy Thomas, a Cat 1 member of the Yeti Beti racing team and a main organizer of the Beti Bike Bash.
The Yeti Beti team wanted to make sure beginners and pros alike felt welcome and cared for. Even details such as selecting an appropriate race announcer were important. Bruce Dickman flew in from Georgia to announce after Thomas met him a race in June. Dickman called the name of each rider as she crossed the line, giving special encouragement to those who limped across on flat tires and inciting cheers from the crowd for all racers, no matter what their time was.
"We really wanted to have someone with a lot of energy that also understood that wasn't just a normal mountain bike race," said Thomas. "He was able to help empower them to get over the finish line."
The race course was a four-mile loop with about 300 feet of elevation gain per lap. The trail was mostly non-techincal singletrack with a few short, punchy climbs. Cat 3 beginners raced two laps for a total of eight miles. Pros and Cat 1 participants raced five laps for a total of 20 miles. The final event of the day was a kids' race for anyone on a bicycle wanting to ride.
Thomas said the team hopes to expand the juniors' race next year on the heels of the new Colorado high school mountain bike league. And she assured the Beti Bike Bash will live on.
"Colorado is a great environment and market to do something like this and without a doubt, we'll be back for 2011," she said.
A portion of the proceeds benefited SMBA - Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventure - the longest running independent junior mountain bike program.
To view the results, visit www.BetiBikeBash.com.