Spoke Skills

A new multi-discipline competition aims to give more young riders—and adults—a chance to show off their stuff.

Mountain bike racers in the Rockies now have a new venue to showcase a wide variety of tire-spinning talents. This spring, Salida’s Chocolate Bunny Productions will debut the Rocky Mountain Race Series (RMRS)—a multi-discipline mountain bike format in Colorado and New Mexico that will include downhill, cross country, short track and dual slalom races.

“We’re super excited to bring this new series to the region—we feel there’s a calling for its multi-discipline format,” says race director Keith Darner, who is excited by the series’ appeal for young riders. “Youth mountain biking is exploding with junior programs like Durango Devo, Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures (SMBA) in Boulder and the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League across the state. We want to foster the sport and provide these racers with a place to exhibit their diverse skill sets.”
Darner says the top three finishers will win a medal, all racers (and volunteers) will be eligible for a free product raffle after each event and, sponsorship permitting, a cash prize will be available for the pros.

Sponsored by Yeti Cycles, Ska Brewing, Kate’s Real Food and Tailwind Nutrition, the series kicks off in May and runs through August (see sidebar for dates). It will include categories for juniors ages 8 to 18, as well as age groups for adults, in both endurance and gravity disciplines.

“Having a series that makes racing accessible to juniors is exactly what the sport needs,” says SMBA program director Jessie Bronson. “It’s important for the riders of tomorrow to have access to races geared toward building skills in an accessible and supportive environment.”

The downhill courses will challenge elite-level riders, and feature alternative lines or courses for CAT 2 and 3 riders. Dual slalom will unfold at three or four of the venues. Cross country courses will feature varying lengths for different categories, with longer courses heading out of ski area boundaries. Short track will follow the “missing out” format, where the last racer across the line each lap will be eliminated until the last two remain.

RMRS also fills a void left by the demise of other series in the region. “There’s been a huge lapse since the end of the Mountain States Cup,” says Hogan Koesis, Mountain Capital Partners bike park director. “We’re stoked to have multi-discipline racing back in the Rockies.”

While Darner says there are similar series across the country, few combine slalom, short track, cross country and downhill. “These four disciplines are what racers around here want,” he says. “And we’re super focused on the juniors. We want kids to have a place to race in a fun environment—you can’t grow the sport without the groms.”

—Eugene Buchanan

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