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Colorado: New uphill & downhill mountain bike races featured as Keystone launches the summer season

New mini-mountain bike park opening near the River Run base area

Family mountain biking fun at Keystone, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Uphill, downhill or just plain on the hill, Keystone  has it covered going into the summer season. Along with a summer opening weekend, (June 15-17), the resort has scheduled a series of enduro, op-to-bottom races, an ascent series, and has also created a new mini-bike park near the River Run base for kids and newcomers to mountain biking.

Opening weekend means the the resort will open its extensive system of mountain bike trails, and there will be music in River Run Village, along with a BMX showcase and a kids balance bike competition. Just like opening day of ski season, the fun starts with free hot chocolate and donuts at the base of the River Run gondola. For non-cyclists, there’s a free  kids fishing derby.

For unbeatable views of Summit County, Dillon Reservoir and big slice of the Rockies, join the Friday Afternoon Club, with free lift access from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free live music, lawn games and drink and food specials are on tap at the Summit House.

The first in a new series of Ascent Races is set for June 15 at 5:30 p.m. Competitors will race the clock uphill, tackling a grueling vertical course that will have legs and lungs burning. Riders of all abilities are welcome to compete for personal glory and the cash prizes that will be awarded to the top three finishers in both men’s and women’s categories. Complete race information is available online.

For downhillers, check out the new Enduro Series— a race that lets competitors choose their own route and compete against the clock and the pack. Riders will begin at the top of Dercum Mountain in a mass start before tackling their chosen line in a free-for-fall back to the base. The races are set for June 21, July 19 and Aug. 16, with individual event and series overall prizes offered to the top three men and women.

Check-in for the races is at Gondola Plaza between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Minimum age is 14. The entry fee is $15 or $38.25 for the entire series and a bike-haul ticket is required for all competitors. Register online at www.bikekeystone.eventbrite.com.

If you’re not quite ready to downhill-bomb the mountain yet, get some practice on the brand new Pump Track Park, built on a vacant lot that was once slated for development of 165 residential units. The track features rollers, banks and features for youngsters and beginners who want to practice before hitting the mountain.

The park will also has two short single-track loops in the surrounding wooded area, giving newcomers to the sport the chance to learn and improve basic skills that will translate to the more challenging downhill terrain offered in Keystone’s Mountain Bike Park.

Located in the former Gold Bug parking lot, the park offers easy access to and from both the River Run Gondola and Village areas. All features are free and will be open daily beginning June 15.

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