The Full Tilt in Telluride is part of the Mountain States Cup series, the largest full-discipline (endurance and gravity) mountain bike race series in the country. From Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10, riders will descend upon the Mountain Village’s recently revamped trails (part of its recently opened Mountain Village Bike Park) for a packed competition schedule including short track, four cross, Super D, cross country and downhill competition. All events are the State Championships of Colorado, meaning that all points are worth double in the Mountain States Cup Series Overall Standings, and are likely to bring out the best riders in the series.
With the MSC’s reputation as the preeminent competitive biking series in the Rocky Mountains comes a certain eminence for the series’ host towns, which include such touted biking destinations as Crested Butte, Snowmass, Grand Junction’s Rabbit Valley, Salida, and more.
Telluride had been a regular stop on the MSC tour for many years, before issues surrounding the operation of Mountain Village’s gondola-accessed bike trails forced organizers of the event to take a hiatus from Telluride’s slopes. But with the opening of the Mountain Village Bike Park in the fall of 2009, Telluride and Mountain Village climbed back in the competitive biking saddle, welcoming the MSC back to town last August.
The return of the Full Tilt to the summer sports calendar is good news for those in the local biking community. Paragon/Bootdoctors is a presenting sponsor for the event, and owner Penelope Gleason says this weekend's event is just one dimension of the overall mountain biking picture steadily coming into focus in Telluride.
“The fact that this is a State Championship event is really going to put Telluride on the map for competitive mountain biking,” Gleason says. The competition is evidence that groups like the San Miguel Bicycle Alliance have truly followed through with their goal of promoting the sport in the area, Gleason continues, noting that the local biking community has a number of entities to thank for the return of the Mountain States Cup.
“There are a lot of people who have put their hearts and souls into mountain biking here,” she says, noting that the entire cycling community has benefitted from the work done by the Town of Mountain Village, the Telluride Ski and Golf Company and innumerable supporters and volunteers who’ve worked hard to put mountain biking back in the Mountain Village spotlight. She adds that she hopes to see the competition become an annual event.
“It’s a natural match for our community. It’s such a great celebration of our trails and the sport of mountain biking,” she says.
J. Michael Brown, who owns Life Cycles, pronounces himself thrilled to see that Telluride and Mountain Village have once again embraced a competitive cycling event of the Full Tilt’s caliber.
“It gives us some credibility and restates the fact that we’re a very bike-oriented community here,” Brown said of the Full Tilt event, noting that Telluride had in the past been an epicenter for competitive cycling, with both road and mountain bike events like the Melee in the Mines and the Telluride Bicycle Classic. It’s nice, Brown says, to see Telluride once again stepping up to be a player in the competitive cycling world.
“Those events put us on the map… with the Full Tilt, we’re coming full circle,” Brown said. “It’s such an important event, not just for the riders but for the entire community.” Brown is referring to the Full Tilt’s spectator-friendly design, with a high-profile downhill course that literally begs for onlookers to gawk at competitors’ tests of gravity, as well as it all-levels-friendly format that welcomes amateurs in the sport category alongside some of the best pros in the business.
And speaking of the best, local boy Ernie Watenpaugh, who has steadily been climbing the ranks as a pro mountain biker, will be one of the top competitors to watch for over the weekend. He’ll be riding for the recently created Life Cycles bike team, alongside a slew of other local riders racing for both local teams, Paragon/Bootdoctors and Lifecycles. Saturday’s events include a short track, four cross and super d race. Sunday's events include cross country and downhill contests.
Course maps and more information about the event are available online at racemsc.com.