Bikers ready to Blast the Mass |

Bikers ready to Blast the Mass

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

SNOWMASS ” Dirt, blood and lots of fast men and women ” what’s not to like?

More than 900 fat-tire fanatics will converge on Snowmass on Friday for the seventh annual Blast the Mass ” the first of two top-tier mountain biking competitions to arrive at the resort this summer.

A three-day racing extravaganza and vendors’ expo, Blast the Mass is the fourth stop on this year’s Mountain States Cup Rocky Mountain Regional Championship Series and, for the third year in a row, will serve as the Colorado championships for the downhill, cross-country, mountaincross and super D disciplines.

Dave Elkan, the sponsorship and event marketing manager for the town of Snowmass Village, said spectators and racers are in for a great weekend of racing. Recent rain showers have helped settle the dirt on the mountain, and course maintenance crews have also been hard at work.

“I rode the cross-country course yesterday, and it’s in great shape,” Elkan said Wednesday night. “We got a good rain Monday night, and it helped settle the dust very well. I thought it was riding great.”

At the request of riders, Snowmass officials have also limited horse traffic on sections of Powerline trail.

Otherwise, Elkan said, little has changed. Riders can expect the same challenging courses and full-mountain experience that Snowmass has been praised for in years past.

Riders won’t have to traverse pavement, ride through town or enter the base area, which remains under construction. Spectators, too, will find easy access to the event. Parking is available at any of Snowmass’ base-area lots and lift service on the Burlingame chair will also be available from the Snowmass Village mall.

Elkan said the most popular of the four disciplines at the annual event remains cross-country, although downhill ” a fast-paced individual event where riders navigate dicey slopes ” continues to grow in numbers each year.

“The downhill events are starting to rival cross-country,” Elkan said. “The numbers are starting to get even. Cross-country is still more attainable. We get people from all over the country for all of our events, but not everyone can do downhill where they live. We have a team coming from Nebraska, and they don’t have any downhill bikes. Downhill is something where you need to have lift service.”

Mountaincross, which pits riders side-by-side on a winding course full of jumps and berms, attracts a lot of downhill riders, Elkan said. Super D, by constrast ” a downhill and cross-country hybrid ” attracts racers from those two disciplines.

“You can do super D with a cross-country bike, but most people do it with a freeride bike,” Elkan said. “They’re riding mostly smooth singletrack, and there’s a little bit of climbing in super D, so you don’t want a heavy 30-pound bike.”

Snowmass’ courses have earned a reputation as some of the most technical and challenging on the Mountain States Cup circuit.

The Big Burn cross-country track features a grueling 11.6-mile loop covering 2,300 vertical feet that includes sections of the renowned Government Trail. There’s also a difficult downhill section aptly nicknamed “Anaerobic Nightmare” immediately following a climb to 10,000 feet. Riders will also have to traverse the mountain for nearly two miles at 9,000 feet. The race kicks off the two days of competition Saturday; beginner and sport classes race at 8 a.m., and pros and experts start at 10:30 a.m.

The downhill course, which opens with practice Friday morning, features technical logjams and wooden drops “which, in years past, have sent a fair share of riders over their handlebars. The official downhill takes place at 10 a.m. Sunday.

And the mountaincross course is just as long as it was last year, when course maintenance crews moved the start up the mountain and added more man-made obstacles.

The challenging super D course also remains the same; riders start at the top of Coney Glade and wind down through Summer Road and onto the Sleigh Ride trail before finishing at the bottom of Coney Glade.

Registration and packet pickup will begin at 7 a.m. Friday and run through 8 p.m. at the Snowmass Village Mall ticket pavilion. There will be no race-day registration for Sunday’s downhill or super D.

Nate Peterson’s email address is

7-8 p.m. ” Registration/packet pickup

9 a.m.-noon ” DH Practice (Beginner/Sport Only)

Noon-3 p.m. ” DH Practice (Pro/Expert/Jr. Expert Only)

1-2 p.m. ” Free MX Clinic (Beginners Only)

2-3 p.m. ” Beginner/Sport Only MX practice

3-4 p.m. ” DH Practice (Pro/Semi Only)

4:30-5:30 p.m. ” Pro/Expert Only MX practice

6 a.m.-noon ” Registration/packet pick up

8-9 a.m. ” MX practice

8 a.m. ” Beginner/Sport XC race

9 a.m. ” MX seeding

10 a.m.-noon ” DH Practice (Pro/Expert Only)

10:30 a.m. ” Pro/Expert XC race

Noon-2 p.m. ” DH Practice (Beginner/Sport Only)

2 p.m. ” Shimano kids race

2-4 p.m. ” SD practice

2:30 p.m. ” Cross Country awards

3-3:30 p.m. ” MX practice

3:30 p.m. ” MX finals

7 p.m. ” Biker bash and MX awards

8:30 a.m. ” Super D Finals

9-10 a.m. ” DH Practice

10 a.m. ” DH race

SD and DH awards within 2 hours of final DH

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