Winter Carnival 2015: Slalom on wheels
Bike race offers thrills and spills
Over the years, a few dozen local cyclists have perfected the art of riding the Poma lift at Howelsen Hill with a bike in tow.
“It takes some skill just to get to the top of the course,” said Chris Johns, who again is organizing this year’s Wheels Bike Shop Dual Slalom Bicycle Race.
The race stays true to the quirky nature of Winter Carnival events, and it has grown very popular throughout the years. Last year, there were an estimated 200 spectators at the Friday night event.
“It’s an honor in this town to do well in the event,” Johns said.
About 40 to 50 cyclists compete each year. That is if they are able to make it to the top of the course.
Two cyclists race at a time through the gates, and experienced riders typically use caution.
“The first five or six turns are really steep,” Johns said. “You have to get through the top of the course to get to the bottom of the course.”
Oftentimes, the crew at Howelsen will build a jump into the course, which guarantees some good spills.
“You see people going over something that’s hardly rideable,” Johns said.
The competitor who crosses the finish line first gets to head back up the Poma lift and race again.
The race culminates with the two most successful riders competing in the championship run.
“It’s usually the guys that like doing downhill racing,” Johns said. “Aggressive downhillers.”
Competitors have tried to race with fat tire bikes, but they typically do not do well on the course. The key, Johns said, is to use studded bike tires. Most are handmade with screws.
There is no cost to compete in the event, but participants need to have a Winter Carnival button.
People can register Feb. 6, the night of the event, at 5:30 p.m. at Howelsen Hill Lodge. Racing starts at 6 p.m. People who want to volunteer should show up a couple of hours early.
For more information, contact Johns with Wheels Bike Shop at 970-846-7433.
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