“It’s the best weekend we have all summer, with all the businesses doing well and staying busy,” said Kate Danaher, Town of Mountain Village Guest Services and Special Events manager. “Telluride has some great biking trails, but this is the only official biking event we have. Our hope is that we continue to do this race every year, and it begins to strike home that biking is what we need for Telluride to be a truly year-round resort.”
There were close to 1100 starts for the Full Tilt’s Cross Country, Super D, Hill Climb, and Downhill races. That equates to roughly 700-800 racers who came to Telluride for the event, but doesn’t include the hundreds more who came as spectators, support crew, or family and friends. Last year, the Telluride event boasted 950 race starts.
“Numbers are up from last year,” said event organizer Mike McCormac, director of the Mountain States Cup (a seven-event bike race series.) “People really have a blast when they come here.”
The highlight of the MSC’s Telluride stop, McCormac said, is the well-constructed and very challenging courses. The downhill course, for example, is a close original copy of the John Tomac-designed course created for the 2002 World Cup mountain bike races in Telluride. The daredevil, one-mile spree down the rocky steeps from the top of the Gondola to Mountain Village features jumps, technical rock sections, and a 30-foot gap. As they rattle downhill, carving around berms and airing off jumps, the best riders have the uncanny ability to make downhill mountain bike racing look graceful. There were, however, a fair share of spectacular crashes witnessed on the downhill course on Sunday – a testament to the truly taxing nature of the sport.
The weekend also featured climbers’ delights, including Saturday’s cross-country race and Sunday’s Hill Climb. With super steep and lengthy uphills, Telluride is known as a climber’s place to ride, and the cross-country course highlighted everything a climber could want; 1,300 vertical feet of climbing in a six-mile loop, which started at the Village Core, climbing up to above the top of the Gondola, then winding back down into the Village on sections of the Ridge trail.
The Hill Climb boasted only-uphill grinding, climbing up from the Core to the top of the Gondola, while the Super D is a hybrid of downhill and cross country with equal parts teeth-chattering downhills and lung-bursting climbs.
“Telluride has the kind of terrain you want to ride your bike on,” McCormac said of the resort’s selection of trails fitted to all manner of rider and ability. The recent rains have made local trails even more desirable, he said, since the wet ground helps riders keep their tires glued to the ground – when necessary.
“Challenging race conditions make for memorable race experiences, that’s for sure,” he said, commenting on Saturday afternoon’s deluge. Yet the clouds broke for the evening’s Super D race, and Sunday dawned nearly perfect for biking: not too hot, not too cold – just right. “Usually, people finish a weekend of racing and feel totally irradiated from the sun. Telluride is about 20 degrees cooler than where they’re used to riding – they love it.”
Telluride boasted just a smattering of local racers representing the home team throughout the weekend. Daniel Murray finished in the top ten in his semi-pro men’s division in Saturday’s Cross-Country, finishing 10th with a time of 4:14:17. He also was in the top ten in Sunday’s Hill Climb, completing the climb in 24:05:07 to finish 10th overall. Also competing in the Hill Climb was local cyclist Lee Roufa, whose finish time of 28:04:59 landed him in fourth place in his 40+ Expert Men’s category. In 10- Sport Men, Matthew Beaudin took first in his age class, finishing nearly five minutes faster than his closest competitor.
Downhill, Super D, and a complete listing of the results can be found by visiting the Mountain States Cup website at www.racemsc.com.