The fourth edition of the Hermosa Off-Road Classic promises the same quality racing, sense of community, camping fun and entertainment as the previous three times its been held.
But for the experienced singlespeed riders, the 2010 version, which begins Saturday at 9 a.m., promises something a little bit more.
The mens and womens Singlespeed A races will double as the Four Corners Singlespeed Championships, giving the winners a free trip to the Singlespeed World Championships in Rotoura, New Zealand, in October.
Dave Hagen, an assistant cycling coach at Fort Lewis College and the events go-to organizer, said he expects a few more pros to ditch the geared bikes for a shot at a trip to New Zealand.
I think itll bring the singlespeeders out, and other riders might bring their singlespeeds out just to see if they can get that, he said.
One of the potential favorites in the mens singlespeed race is Durango DEVO coach and last years runner-up Chad Cheeney. The affable Cheeney finished behind friend Jon Bailey the last two times around, and he was unaware a trip to the World Championships was on the line.
If thats the case, I better get to training cause I want to go to New Zealand big time, he said.
Hagen said he expects riders Greg Lewis and Nick Gould to ride in the discipline and push Cheeney and Bailey for the title on the 38-mile ride up the Hermosa Creek Trail. Riders in non-professional categories only will ride the 20 miles of the actual trail, subtracting the added loop pros must make.
On the womens side, Sarah Tescher, herself a Durango DEVO coaching mainstay, is the defending champion, and coming off a national championship in the event at the U.S. Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, is a strong candidate to repeat.
Ill treat it just like any other race, which is when I start, Ill go as hard as my body will allow me to, she said.
Cheeney said the course is tailor-made for gearless riders.
Really, what it is is the motorcycles ride up it and make it really smooth, so it just rolls in the terrain to be smooth for a mountain bike, he said. The upper part, the corral draw, is really burly. Not really that great for singlespeeds, but its sweet.
In the pro mens event, FLC head coach Matt Shriver is the reigning champion, having won last years race by 14 minutes over second-place finisher and fellow 2010 contender and FLC alumnus Joey Thompson.
But in the end, winning and losing isnt quite as important at the Classic as it is at many of the other events the pros usually ride. For many, from the seasoned veterans to the weekend warriors, its a chance to race against, then catch up with old friends in the Durango cycling community.
For Tescher, its a chance to see friends she hasnt run into all summer, due in large part to her duties with Durango DEVO and her own cycling endeavors.
In the summer, weve all been busy working or racing, she said. We can guarantee well all see each other at the Hermosa Classic.
Not that the competitive juices stop flowing during the actual race. Cheeney said hes more comfortable throwing down on riders he knows than riders he doesnt, adding that riding against friends allows for a more civil race.
It takes away that non-gentlemenlike attitude from racing and gives it all just pure pleasure, he said, with a special emphasis on the pure pleasure.
And, per usual, after the race, the party begins. Hagen said roughly three-fourths of all participants end up staying to camp at the Hermosa Creek Trail north trailhead, where the race comes to a close.
For those who dont stick around, Hagen organizes a ride back to the beginning to get riders back to their cars.
Thats what its all about, he said. Its not just a race for racers; its a race for everyone to go, ride up the Hermosa Creek Trail and gather at the top for a big barbeque. When the sun goes down, we show movies.
Cheeney, who will miss out on the festivities to make a friends wedding, said its the kind of postrace atmosphere that makes a person never want to leave.
Its just kind of like a picnic in the mountains, he said. Everybodys eating, grilling and drinking beer and all kinds of beverages, playing frisbee, hacky sack.
And, at its most basic, the Hermosa Off-Road Classic helps raise funds for the FLC cycling team as well as Bicycle Lemonade, which refurbishes old bikes to give back to people who need a bike for a minimal cost.
It takes a lot to run the Fort Lewis cycling team, so every little bit we can do to help continue on as we have in the past, it helps a lot, Hagen said.
No matter how much money is raised, or who wins each race, the event stands to be a success so long as the camaraderie remains.
Its good to return to the light fare where people just enjoy the fact that everyone rode hard, Tescher said.