Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race Series

Leadville, Colorado – There aren’t many places in the country like Leadville. Things are a little different when you live in the middle of the Rocky Mountains above 10,000 feet. Winter is long, cold, and full of snow. What to do if you want to stay active? Perhaps head out for some skiing or snowshoeing? This group of hardy souls hops on their mountain bikes and hits the trails.

Preview for the 2011 Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series

In an attempt to bring a little heat to the cold days, Cycles of Life has been holding a winter mountain bike race series since 2009. In 2009, the series consisted of five races. The attendance for the races varied from about 15 up to around 70. In 2010, they condensed the series to three races – East Side Epic, Tennessee Pass Night Jam, and Mineral Belt Mayhem. The 2011 series will stay the same as 2010.

With all the skiing right out the back door here in Colorado, it’s understandable that the attendance isn’t through the roof. However, snowbiking is gaining traction (pun intended) throughout the snowy parts of the country and anyone interested in snowbike races should take some notes from Leadville’s great series.

For the first race of this year’s three-race series, the East Side Epic on Saturday, January 22, I managed to get a video of some of the course, thanks to the help of friend and teammate, Brandon Newcomer (http://mistakenpain.tumblr.com). You can see from the video that there were sections of hike-a-bike. Don’t let it scare you off. I’ve been assured that there will be some heavy machinery out there over the week to pack it down. With the non-packed soft snow, we didn’t have enough time to do the full course.

But, as we know, the mountains are unpredictable and new snow the night before Saturday morning’s race could make things interesting. You should just be prepared to ride the fattest tires you have at a low pressure. You don’t need a special bike with four inch tires either. A majority of the racers use regular mountain bikes and the snowbike guys get put into another division to keep things fair.

The course is 11.44 miles with about 1,875 feet of climbing. If you have a chance to look around, with your lungs burning from the elevation and technically challenging trails, the views are stunning. The race starts off with a lung-busting climb (be sure to get a good warm-up in) of about 750 feet for about the first three miles. Then you continue up slowly for the next mile. After that, you’re in for some good downhill before you head back on some rolling snowmobile trails. No matter the conditions, it’ll be sure to give you a great start to the 2011 race season.

Check in begins this Saturday, January 22 at 8am at Cycles of Life in downtown Leadville and the race starts at 10am. It’s only $20 and you get to hang out with a great group of people, put your heart rate into the red for about an hour, and test your technical skills.

If you have any questions, check out Cycles of Life’s website at http://cyclesoflifepb.com/ or go to the
Cloud City Wheelers’ events page on their website at http://www.cloudcitywheelers.org/Events-&-Rides.html.

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5 Comments

New Details for Leadville Winter Race

I heard back from someone involved in the series today: "The series started in the late 90's and the Cloud City Wheelers have been promoting them since 2007. I think people like the races because it levels the playing field a little bit with the extra challenge the snow provides. Its also a good break from skiing to get out and enjoy the winter on a bike."

See you out there!