Friday, October 22, 2004

Oktoberfest brings bikes and beer

Expect slick course?great for racers and spectators

Express Staff Writer

Bill Olson models the European tradition that will meet riveting biking action at the State Cyclocross Championship and party.

Spandex meets Lederhosen this weekend as Oktoberfest blasts into Ketchum. The event pairs the Idaho State Championship Cyclocross Race with a traditional Oktoberfest party on Saturday, Oct. 23 at the River Run Plaza at the Base of Bald Mountain in Ketchum. Sun Valley Co. and Sun Valley Road and Dirt Camps bring the action, complete with German folk music, beer, bratwurst and of course, competitive the Cyclocross racing to the valley. The event promises a new twist on European tradition.

The party on the plaza from noon to 6 p.m. features live music, an Oktoberfest grill and beer tents. Beer specials will benefit Sun Valley Road and Dirt Camps. Costumes are encouraged. The party will also be the last opportunity to buy discounted Sun Valley season passes.

?It?s going to be a party for the whole family,? said Sam Cochran, an organizer of the event.

The party features the state Championship Cyclocross race. The sport, a hybrid of road and mountain biking, provides X-Games style entertainment for partygoers.

?It?s got a lot of heritage. It started way before mountain biking. European professionals needed a way to keep in shape,? Bill Olson an organizer of the race, said.

Early in the week enthusiastic cyclists tested the course braving cold weather and occasional snow flurries.

?Cyclocross is typically a winter or fall sport. This is good Cyclocross weather,? Olson commented. ?The worse it is, the better. It?s meant to be ugly.?

This week?s cold, wet weather will likely guarantee a muddy, slick course?great for racers and spectators. The wet conditions add an element of difficulty to an already interesting course. The course snakes around the base of River Run Lodge at the Base of Bald Mountain. The route twists in S-turns through the wooded area around the Big Wood River, travels through the field next to Pennay?s at River Run, winds by the River Run parking lot, travels across the bridge and passes by the plaza party. Bikers encounter dirt, pavement and brick along the way.

The course pairs terrain changes with barriers installed throughout the route. Race organizers built 16-inch high barriers into the course. The barriers stretch across the path to force cyclists to dismount, carry their bikes and then continue riding at race speeds.

Olson estimates the laps will take six or seven minutes, short enough to keep spectators interested in the action.

The course tests riders? speed and handling ability. In order to perform at their best, Cyclocross riders ride specific cross bikes that resemble road bikes. The road bikes are modified to endure harsh off-road riding conditions, which can include modifications like frames constructed with additional clearance, knobby tires and cantilever brakes.

Registration for the race begins at 12 noon on Saturday. The action begins at 1:10 p.m. with the Category D race. Category C starts at 1:45 p.m. Kids 12 and under follow at 2:30 p.m. The action continues with Category B at 3:15 p.m. and wraps up with Category A at 4:15 p.m. Mountain bikes are allowed on all of the categories except category A. There are prizes for all of the categories.

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