Bikers at the starting line begin to prepare mentally for the physically-demanding mountain course as the race director initiates a count down from 30 to start the race.
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort hosted the second round of the Full Suspension Mountain Bike Series Thursday July 26. Ed Chauner, Race Director, lives near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and has been organizing races at Snowbird for 25 years.
“Many years I threatened that I’m never going to do this thing again because I hated even marking it,” Chauner said. “The descent over there is down this really slippery, gravel road and it was scary. There were always people falling and it gained this reputation.”
The four-race mountain bike series utilizes the new trails Snowbird recently constructed for bikers and hikers – making it safer for racers and easier on Chauner to mark.
“Now, this year the trail is built so we have this great five-mile loop, mainly single track,” Chauner said. “There’s no big sketchy, scary downhill. It’s hard to change a reputation of a place, but it will soon as more people race it.”
Attendance doubled this week compared to the first round of the series, but the numbers are still low compared to other mid-week races. Many competitors use these shorter evening races to train for other events or bigger races on the weekends.
Jake Sullivan, 24, from Salt Lake City, came in first out of five men competing in the beginner class. Sullivan competed in the first round of the series and even knocked off five minutes from his time – clocking in at 43 minutes 10 seconds for one lap around the course.
“I had a different bike with better tread and I knew the course I’d say would be the two things that helped me a lot, and the fact that I was actually out riding last week,” Sullivan said.
Even though it’s a race, Sullivan said he really wanted to come to prepare and train for the Spudman Triathlon next weekend in Idaho, but also just for recreation.
Sullivan also said he believes the races will help him train for a big trip to southern Utah in two months. Sullivan and his two friends will try to be the first to stand up paddle board the entire length of Lake Powell – about 140 miles – in just eight days.
“We’ve been paddle boarding up at Jordanelle and over the past few years it’s gotten way more popular,” Sullivan said. “We’re just trying to stay ahead of the curve and find the next cool inland surfing thing to do. No one’s doing that so we want to be the first to do it.”
Even for non-racers, Snowbird offers recreational trails and great mountain views. Hikers can ride the tram and have easy access to the top of the mountain.
“It’s super fun to go up and the wildflowers in Mineral Basin on the backside of the mountain are in full bloom right now,” said Emily Moench, communications manager at Snowbird. “It’s gorgeous. They just cover the mountainside.”