Local bike racers go downhill fast



With a slew of local bike races already taking place this year, the cycling friendly town of San Luis Obispo will play host to another two-wheeled event when 16 of the world's top racers roll into town to compete in the Jeep King of the Mountain 2007 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships on Aug. 18, behind the Madonna Inn.

The athletes will compete for a share of the richest cash payout in the sport more than $100,000 and the keys to a new 2008 Jeep Liberty.

This is the third appearance for a fast-paced, downhill race in SLO.

"That's kind of rare," race spokesman Al Sommers said about the race returning to the area. "The athletes kind of dictate where they want to go, and they want San Luis Obispo. It's becoming a hotbed for mountain biking."

The competition will feature both women's and men's divisions. Headlining the men's side is "godfather of racing" Brian Lopes and SLO native Travis Collins.

The athletes helped design the Y-Cross racecourse. Competitors will begin the race on separate sides of the course, which resemble the prongs of a "Y." They will then converge midway into a single course and must then navigate through a series of banked turns, tabletops, step-down jumps, and rollers before the track climaxes with an all-out sprint to the finish.

The races are very fast each one lasting somewhere between 35 seconds and one minute. Participants will be placed into brackets, similar to March Madness, and will compete in an elimination style event. The entire competition will take about an hour and a half.

Sommers said that each year event coordinators try to add something different to the race to make it more enjoyable for spectators. For this effort, they're striving for a more family-friendly event, adding a beer garden for parents and a mini racecourse for children.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will have pre-race festivities at 11 a.m. and a noon start time.


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