Bike action ‘Blasts the Mass’ |

Bike action ‘Blasts the Mass’

Catherine Lutz

It’s time to “Blast the Mass” for the third year in a row, when Snowmass hosts up to 900 participants in the seventh of nine races to crown the 2003 NORBA (National Off-Road Biking Association) cross-country, downhill, observed trials and mountain cross Rocky Mountain Regional champs.

Held over a weekend (July 19 and 20) of serious racing and fun-filled activities and parties, Blast the Mass races are just one step below national championship status – featuring pros and semi-pros from all over the country. But they’re also open to anyone.

“There’s an outstanding world class network of trails here and this is the opportunity to show that,” said Blast the Mass organizer Eric Jean.

Saturday’s events include the lung-burning cross-country event, utilizing parts of the world famous Government Trail. Participants complete a 13-mile loop with a 3,000-foot elevation gain (experts and pros do two everybody wins a prize, at 2 p.m.

In the afternoon, the heart-thumping action of mountain cross takes over Fanny Hill, where four riders compete head-to-head on a course with jumps and berms, which are getting bigger “because that’s what people want,” explains event organizer Pamela Jean of Cycle Cyndicate. (Attention ladies: All women competitors will qualify and beginner/sport women race for free.) And spectators, if the action makes you thirsty, watch from the Snowmass Beer Garden while enjoying a cold one. Afterwards, the Biker Bash rules the evening with live music and drink, and on Saturday night you can catch the Rocky Mountain premier of the new Neal Sanders video “Highways.”

Sunday features the White Knuckle Downhill which ends its 1,700-foot descent below the village mall. The expert course is extremely difficult, said Pamela Jean, with lots of dropoffs, tight corners and lots of rocks and roots.

This is also the easiest and most popular event to watch, said Julie Schopper-Mele of Gene Taylor Sports, partly because of the spectacular crashes that can occur. And kids love it because the full body armor contestants wear is so cool. Another Shimano Kids Race is held for the tykes who missed it on Saturday. And finally, the Trials event continues to thrill spectators as Blast the Mass simmers to a close.

“Snowmass is now getting a reputation for having brutal courses, and people like that,” said Pamela Jean. “Crowds want to see crashes.”

Blast the Mass is open to anybody, and riders new to competition who purchase $8 worth of Pepsi products get half off the entry fee. Spectators can participate in other ways, for example by taking advantage of free daily guided rides – after all, some of the most incredible riding in Colorado is in the Snowmass area. Those with

their own lighting system can join the Friday night guided ride at 9 p.m. Rides for two tiers of ability depart from registration at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday as well.

Or, just soak in the mountain bike culture, by checking out the tech expo of industry sponsors’ goods and trade teams. The Yeti Tribe Gathering will have a trailer and tents set up with all sorts of crazy stuff going on – a bike toss, libations, contests, test rides and prizes for the “Best in Show” Yeti bikes. Blast the Mass is also known for its rocking parties on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at mall establishments.