Downhill bike racing coming back to CBMR this weekend

“It’s going to be a spectacular show”

By Than Acuff 

After a long hiatus, downhill mountain bike racing returns to Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) this weekend Friday through Sunday, August 4–6.

The race is part of the Downhill Rockies Series started last summer. The series included stops in Angel Fire and Los Alamos, New Mexico and comes to Crested Butte for the third race of the five-race series.

“It’s the only regional downhill race series for the Rocky Mountain West,” says head of the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team Eddy Cohn. “I think it’s a pretty cool blend of high-level talent with a homegrown feel.”

Cohn took over the reins of the Mountain Sports Team before the 2022/2023 winter season with a vision to develop downhill biking as part of the Mountain Sports Team programming as well as to bring a new race to CBMR.

He accomplished both in the first year with 10 kids on the team and coach Cal Hill at the helm. The athletes have been training all summer, including racing in the Pinnacle Race Series and in Los Alamos on the Downhill Rockies circuit and the race series coming to Crested Butte.

“I reached out to the organizer, and it just went from there,” says Cohn.

The first race of the series in Angel Fire attracted more than 200 athletes given Angel Fire is known in downhill racing circles as some of the best tracks in the U.S. The second stop in Los Alamos was a little less attended. Cohn recently spoke with the organizer and he hopes to see anywhere from 180-200 racers in Crested Butte, including rising downhill racing star Asa Vermette. Vermette is a 16-year-old rider out of Durango and has already made a name for himself on the Pro circuit having recently beat some of the top U.S. downhill racers on the 2023 USA Cycling National circuit.

“That’s super exciting,” says Cohn. “It will be really cool to see how everybody stacks up against that level of racer.”

As for the local athletes, nine of the CBMST downhill team are racing on their home track and Cohn is looking forward to seeing the kids put their training to the test once again.

“It’s been really cool watching the kids improve in their skill sets this season,” says Cohn. “Everybody’s progressing and getting more confident. They’re still working on their race craft. Taking the skills and fun and how to package it up and approach a race weekend.”

 Cohn, his staff, race organizers and the resort have plans for two courses to accommodate the various level of racers. The 10 and under kids and category three and two level riders will be on Avery, a portion of Sharpshooter and a section of course freshly cut through some grass with banked turns.

The Cat I and Pro riders will be racing on Avery as well, but then turn onto the Boulder Mason Trail for the end of their ride. Boulder Mason begins about 2/3 of the way down Avery with several technical rock gardens before joining back up with Avery just above the jump line section on the bottom part of the mountain.

“The Boulder Mason Rock Garden and the upper part of Boulder Mason will be the best spectating,” says Cohn.

The CBMST will have athletes competing across all categories from the 10 and under class, to the Junior Expert class as well as the Cat I level.

Athletes should start rolling into town on Friday, August 4 with the courses open to some pre-ride laps. The courses will then be open for additional training runs for the athletes Saturday morning, and the racing officially begins Saturday afternoon at 2:25 p.m. when Cat I riders and Pro riders will do their time trial runs for seeding. Sunday is when it all goes down with the younger riders and Cat II and Cat III races starting at 12:30 and the top riders starting their runs at 1:15 p.m. The awards ceremony will be held at Butte 66 starting at 3:45 p.m on Sunday.

“Whether you’re a cross-country rider, road biker or a downhiller, this is a cool opportunity to see some great cycling,” says Cohn. “It’s going to be a spectacular show.”

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