Baseball has its World Series, football the Super Bowl and mountain biking has the Leadville Trail 100. The Leadville 100 (LT 100) is legendary. Since 1994, the 103 mile long race, set 13,000 feet up in the treacherous Colorado Rocky terrain has tested each rider’s determination. Among those tested at LT 100 have been seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and Levi Leipheimer, the 2006 winner of the Dauphiné Libéré, and 2005 Deutschland Tour champion.
For the first time, one of the LT100 qualifying races will take place this Sunday, June 19, in Wilmington. The inaugural Wilmington/Whiteface 100k is expected to bring more than 300 top cyclists to the area, each hoping to grab one of 100 coveted spots into the LT 100. The race is part of the second Wilmington/Whiteface Bike Fest, a four-day event which also includes the Whiteface Uphill Road Race and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride.” The Bike Fest is expected to bring an additional 4,000 bike enthusiasts to the Wilmington area.
The festival kicks off Thursday, June 16, at 8 a.m., when the Wilmington Dirt Jump/Skills Park opens in the Wilmington Bike Park. Registration for the Uphill race and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride” will also continue at the Whiteface Business and Tourism Center from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday also includes a “Fun Not Fear” MTB instructional clinic on the Flume trails from 4-6 p.m.
Friday’s schedule features the opening of the Whiteface Mountain bike downhill park, at 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., a free dirt jump clinic with Kyle Ebbett, 5-6 p.m., a jump jam & trials exhibition, 6-9 p.m., and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride.” The parade of bikes begins at 4 p.m. with a Mass LeMans start at Santa’s Workshop and takes the participants downhill, 1.6-miles to Route 86. Awards will be presented at the Wilmington Bike Park for the best themed bike and for best costume.
The opening of the Bike Fest Village, at Whiteface Mountain, a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the Hardy Road Trail Network, at 10 a.m., and the 10th annual running of the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race highlight Saturday’s schedule. The village opens at 7 a.m. and throughout the day visitors can enjoy vendor displays, children’s event, food and entertainment. Admission is free.
The Uphill race begins at 5:30 p.m., and more than 340 cyclists are expected to climb New York State’s fifth highest peak via the Veterans Memorial Highway. The race is open to both road and mountain bicycles. The Whiteface event is the first race in the nine-race “Bike Up Mountain Points Series” (BUMPS) Series. An award ceremony and barbeque will be held at Santa’s Workshop beginning at 7 p.m. The LT 100 will begin at 6:30 am Sunday.
Due to the race’s international recognition and increased demand for participation, riders traditionally gained entry into the LT 100 by means of a lottery system, making it an extremely difficult race to access. This year, Life Time Fitness, Inc. and AEG announced the creation of the Leadville Qualifying Series for the 2011 LT 100. The 2011 qualifying series consist of three races, with each race covering approximately 100 kilometers and providing 100 entries to the LT 100. Fifty of these spots will be allocated based on age-group performance and the other fifty will be distributed by a drawing among the finishers who have met the time standard that is specific to each qualifying event.
“This series will allow the LT 100 to become more attainable to some riders whose dream it has been to get to the LT 100,” said David Weins, a six-time Leadville 100 race champion. “There are a lot of bikers out there that want a taste of what the LT 100 experience is all about, yet may not necessarily have the time to train for such an intense competition. The Leadville Qualifying Series gives riders a bit of the thrill and shows them a little of what the LT 100 is all about, it’s a stepping stone for riders out there looking for some adventure, but not yet ready to move on to the next level.”
From doctors to lawyers, Olympians to professional cyclists and even NFL punters, the inaugural Wilmington/Whiteface 100K already has a wide array of riders registered – some hoping to qualify for Leadville 100, others just hoping they can complete the grueling 57-mile course.
“Some of the cyclists have already been on the course preparing themselves physically and mentally,” said Weins, who serves as the race’s technical director. “From what I’ve heard so far, everyone likes the course and the terrain that it covers. Some have even said the ‘climbs are fun.’ It’s demanding and will test these riders. This event will bring out the best from everyone in the field.”
“I’m pretty good at climbing, but my specialty is weaving through trails and trees,” added 2010 men’s singles luge Olympian Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y. “There are some pretty good climbs, especially up Whiteface … that’s a tough one to finish on.”
The race is scheduled to begin at 6:30 a.m., with a shotgun start from the Whiteface Mountain bridge. From there, the cyclists will head down paved and dirt roads near Jay and Saddleback Mountains before returning to the Olympic mountain where a 2,566 foot climb awaits them before crossing the finish line.
The field’s top riders are expected to cross the finish line in about four hours. Racers will have a total of eight hours to complete the race.
Filip Filipovic, of Chicago, Ill., is in Sunday’s field. Filipovic has traded in footballs for pedals after spending six seasons as a punter in the National Football League. Signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2002, Filipovic also played for the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears before retiring in 2007.
Racers can still register for the WW100 online.
For more information about the Wilmington/Whiteface 100K Mountain Bike Race can also be found online.