All are welcome at valley’s other blast | AspenTimes.com

All are welcome at valley’s other blast

Aspen Times Staff

A professional racer blasts down the downhill course at last year's Blast the Mass. Practice runs for downhill and mountaincross begin today for the U.S. Mountain Biking National Championship qualifier, now in its fifth year at Snowmass. (Aspen Times photo)

How’s this for a coincidence? The fifth annual Blast the Mass mountain bike challenge returns to Snowmass Village during the same weekend that the late Hunter S. Thompson will be blasted out of a 150-foot cannon on his Woody Creek property.Unlike the good doctor’s private funeral, all comers are welcome to participate in this weekend’s slate of mountain-biking activities, which blasts off today with downhill practice between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., followed by mountaincross practice from 3-5 p.m. This year’s Blast is again a qualifier for the U.S. Mountain Biking National Championship in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in September. Riders who place in the top 10 in their category and age group in cross country, downhill and mountaincross will earn the chance to compete against the best in the country.Registration and packet pickup begins at 7 a.m. today and runs until 8 p.m. at the Snowmass Village Mall Ticket Pavilion. There will also be registration and packet pickup for all events on from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday. The National Off-Road Bicycling Association no longer offers one-day licenses so non-NORBA members will pay an additional $5 when registering.

Here’s look at what on tap for this weekend:Big Burn Cross CountryThe cross-country competitions will take place Saturday. Pro, semipro, singlespeed and expert riders will start racing at 9 a.m. Beginner and sport racers will begin at 11:30 a.m. The 7.4-mile course consists of two-thirds singletrack and one-third fire road, with 1,400 feet of climbing per lap.A portion of the course is on the world-famous Government Trail. Pro and expert riders will complete two laps, while beginner, sport and junior riders will do one lap. Riders will be able to enjoy a complimentary buffet at the finish.

Banzai DownhillThe downhill race takes place at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The course features slow, technical rock sections as well as wide-open ski-run descents. All told, riders will drop 1,700 feet in 2.4 miles. Alternate lines around extremely challenging portions will also be available. Riders will use the chairlift to get to the top of the mountain. Lift tickets will be required for practice days and will be on sale at registration. Riders must be registered and have a number plate and lift ticket on their bike to practice. DH chairlift access will begin 15 minutes before the scheduled beginning of practice and end 15 minutes before the scheduled end of practice. Snowmass Super DThe Super D is fast and furious – a quick and turny downhill singletrack race with a number of subtle turns.

Fanny Hill MountaincrossThe mountaincross will take place Saturday on Fanny Hill. Four riders will leave from a start gate and compete head-to-head on a course with man-made jumps and berms. Riders must be registered and have a number plate on the bike and a wristband on the body to practice.Kids raceThe free Shimano kids race will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday for riders under the age of 10. The race will take place under at the cross-country start/finish area. Classes will be based on the number of participants. All riders will receive a medal and T-shirt. Kids must be accompanied by a parent and can register at the race site. All participants must wear helmets.For more information, contact Cycle Cyndicate at (303) 432-1519 or e-mail Pam at Pamela@cyclecyndicate.com