Written by guest blogger Austin Rogerson.
I was honored with the opportunity to travel with a group of Taiwanese journalists to one of my dream events and bucket list items: the U.S. Mountain Bike National Championships.
The atmosphere was nearly out of a story book, my story book so to speak. The racers, sponsors and crowd electrified the town as Sun Valley would make world-class history by hosting this event. Multinational companies including Specialized, Shimano, Subaru Racing, and Scott just to name a few sampled, tested, and showed off their products and expertise.
Specializing in Cross Country and Super D (Downhill) racing, these mountain bike racers were the best in the nation in their age specific categories. The plethora and diversity of racers was remarkable, ranging in age from 10-70; single-speed to multiple speeds. The events took place on the front River Run side of Bald Mountain. Cross-country racers started at the base by River Run Lodge and Super D racers rode up the gondola and fearlessly flew down at excessive speeds, sliding through switch-backs that overlooked 100 foot cliffs. Races were extremely fast and efficient with one minute intervals between each heat, allowing for no breaks or flaws from the nation’s top class riders. I was granted access around the course as a photographer, allowing for great photos and “in your face” riding from these steam engine like racers.
For the next couple days the group of Taiwanese journalists and I epitomized what it meant to spend a summer weekend in Ketchum-Sun Valley Outside of the mountain bike racing we enjoyed classic dining at the Pioneer Saloon, Kneadery and Sawtooth Club, played on a first-class putting course at the Sun Valley Golf Club modeled after the Himalayas at St. Andrews in Scotland, and always finished our evenings off with some epic foothills mountain biking of our own.
Also, in the heat of the biking weekend I had the opportunity to compete in the Fat Tire Criterium a 30-minute sprint mountain bike race in downtown Ketchum. The exhilaration of racing against experienced riders, zooming around every corner, surrounded by hundreds of screaming spectators made for an outstanding race atmosphere. The Fat Tire Criterium, similar to the Twilight Criterium that was held in Boise a couple days later, brought top-tier riders from around the country to compete.
When our trip allowed for some down time you could find me riding the popular mountain biking trails that Ketchum-Sun Valley has to offer in the summer months. I and one of the Taiwanese journalists who writes for Bicycling Lohas in Taiwan, had the opportunity to ride the pristine trails. Ranging from a relatively easy course in Corral Creek, to an 8-mile descent down Cold Springs from the peak of Bald Mountain was an outstanding experience. With over 450 miles of mountain biking trails, and new trails consistently created, you’d spend your entire life trying to duplicate a trail in Sun Valley.
Since Sun Valley plans on hosting this exquisite event next July as well, be sure to plan ahead for an experience of a lifetime with the U.S. Mountain Biking National Championships in the first class town of Ketchum-Sun Valley.