Kick the Tires & Light the Fires: Winter Mountain Bike Race

Here's a recap of Copper's 1st Annual Winter Mountain Bike Race. See the all the action of the night race with a first person POV cam on single speed monster, Brad Grohusky. Don't forget to check out all the bike photos too!

Kick the Tires & Light the Fires: Winter Mountain Bike Race

There was a stir of excitement in the air at Copper Mountain last Saturday, January 16. Bicycles littered Center Village as 162 brave riders came out for the 1st Annual Winter Mountain Bike Night Race.

 

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At 5:40pm, flashes of red and purple lit the night sky as the En Fuego fireworks blasted off to signal the start of the race. It was pandemonium on wheels. Some tires were fatter than others which had a huge advantage on the soft, mash potatoes-like snow sections.  “They sure look odd, but they have a niche for this style of riding,” says Frisco resident, Brad Grohusky. “On the first lap there were several standard tires churning and rolling, but as soon as the snow turned soft, the bigger wheels just overtook us and rolled on by.” The standard 2.1 inches tires most mountain bike have were no match to the 4.7 inches fatties that snatched the top spots of the competition.

The friendly chatter between riders soon turned into heavy panting. The race was in full gear. It was on like Donkey Kong and Copper’s IT Technician, Grohusky was ready to rumble.

“Race registration at the Incline was packed full of wide-eyed visitors wondering what on earth is going on, a ski resort packed with mountain bikes? Huh. The mood was festive, registration was fast and furious and riders were getting ready for business,” says Specialized rider, Grohusky. 

Race spectators huddled around the bonfires scattered throughout Burning Stone Plaza in Center Village. A group of enthusiastic supports cheered on each rider with equal vigor. Copper’s race set a record turnout for Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series that normally sees a max of 50 to 70 gearheads. The bike race was the first stop in the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series. 

"“My race went off very well but got very interesting as I finished first lap. I had a chance to jump out in the front pack and pedal out a gap from the main pack,”" says Grohusky.

 

The best part of the race was watching cyclists bomb down the hill behind the Tubing Hill. Riders held on for dear life as they tried to stay upright. It looked like Ullr himself was jerking each rider’s handlebars from side-to-side just for snowflakes and giggles. Spectators couldn’t help but laugh as riders went down like sack-a-potatoes into the soft snow.

Riders pedaled two 5-mile loops from Copper's Burning Stones Plaza east on the cross country trails and back through the village. Out of the 10 miles, it’s guesstimate that participants carried their not-so-hot wheels 7 miles. Jeez Louise. That’s like running a10k+, and then adding a 33 pound mountain bike to push through the snow at 9,712 feet.  Racers were sucking enough wind to make any oscillating fan jealous. 

"“The hardest part of the course was the soft snow on the first lap. The realization that I was not going to pedal much there and just accept the fact that I was jogging with my bike in loose snow. And then realizing that you were going to do it all over again on lap two. Tough stuff,”" says Grohusky.

 

Here’s a quick video of Grohusky in the bike race: 

 

"“The soft snow was an energy suck, but all racers had to deal with it so it real was an equalizer for all to plow through.”"  -  Brad Grohusky

 

Thirty-seven racers Did Not Finish, or DNF’d. Shortly after the first lap, the missing 37 athletes were spotted sitting at Incline’s Bar and Grill enjoying a nice cold brewski. These racers must have attended Copper’s Safety Fest as they had a full understanding of the importance of hydration. The DNF’ers finished 3-16oz beverages before most riders finished their second loop. 

Copper hopes to make it an annual event and encourage all you crazy folk to try your luck at the three remaining snow races scheduled in the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race Series. The three other snow races are: 

  • Feb. 4 at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center
  • March 3 on Leadville's Mineral Belt Trail
  • April 7 tour of Leadville's historic mining district 

"“I will be back next year. I need to have a clean, maintenance free race. Plus, I had so much fun. The atmosphere was unique, the En Fuego spectators were enjoying themselves and maybe I will have a snow bike by then. We used Kids Night out so our kids were well taken care of. Maybe a kid’s race may evolve for next year?”" 

 

Copper wants to say congrats to everyone who came out beat Jack Frost with their snow-cruisers.  Thanks for your support and hope to see all of you next year. Keep pedaling. 


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Copper Creek Golf Course is open through September 28th.
Copper opens for the winter season Friday, October 31st.