Bike race series encourages participants to maintain trails

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Female mountain bikers gear up to begin their trail race on a warm evening. The Midweek Mountain Bike Race Series hosts 14 races over the course of the summer. (Selective Vision)

The Midweek Mountain Bike Series is a race with a cause. Racers have the opportunity not only to compete but also to give back to the mountain they compete on.

As racers go through this 14-race series they are awarded points according to race finishes. The first-place winner of the pro division for race one receives the highest number of points, with the second and third places to follow. Points are accumulated throughout the race series, and top finishers receive prizes at the end of the summer. Points aren’t only awarded to top finishers; racers can also earn points for helping with trail maintenance.

“Trail work is a big thing that we try to push,” said race director Luke Ratto. “We organize days that we call ‘trail days,’ and if a racer shows up to help they receive bonus points to go toward the series.”

Ratto coordinates trail days with different trail organizations to work on necessary maintenance work or whatever the organization needs help with. “Volunteers will cut new lines for new trails, bust out turns or trim back vegetation,” he said. “We all meet up and just go to work.”

Marc Barlage, a competer, appreciates being able to participate on trail day.s “The trail days are an opportunity for us to give back to the places that we are riding,” he said.

The Mid Week Mountain Bike Series also donates race fees to trail organizations for maintenance required for mountain bike trails. The Cottonwood Canyon Foundation, Mountain Trails Organization and the Wasatch Trail Alliance will remain the benefactors as the race series grows.

The race has grown both in size and in participants since its inaugural race five years ago. “We used to just race at Solitude, but now we have expanded our race series, and we now have (six) different venues which we race: Corner Canyon in Draper, Heber, Round Valley in Park City, Deer Valley, Solitude and Snowbird,” Ratto said. “When we first started racing, we had about 50 people a night. Now we’ve grown that number to about 300 people per race.”

The Mid Week Mountain Bike Series looks to further set itself apart from traditional race series by adding night races. “Our first night race was a week ago out in Herriman,” Ratto said. “One of the requirements for racers was that they had to have 800 lumens of light. We started at sunset, and, depending on the racer’s division, they turned 1.5–4.5 laps on the Party Rock trail.” The second night race will be held Friday, Aug. 21, at Corner Canyon.

Families can participate in the trail days and in the race too. “It really is family oriented, and that s why I like it,” Barlage said. “This race gives my family something to plan on every Tuesday for the whole summer. And the race directors do an awesome job.”

Riders can register for the race series or any individual race if they want. Kids can also participate in a free kids’ race 30 minutes prior to the main event. For more information on the race series or to register for an upcoming event, visit http://www.midweekmtb.com/.

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