"Hot, fast, and dusty"
June 25, 2008 · Updated 11:59 AM
"Had they split the little mud available equally among themselves, 135 mountain bikers racing on a wooded, rural Langley race courseSunday would have had just enough of the filthy stuff to get their tires dirty.On the second day of the hottest, driest weekend this year, the racers kicked up clouds of dust instead of clods of mud in the first annual Whidbey Island Mudder. Riders of all skill levels, from 10-year-old beginners to seasoned, 30-something professionals, tore into the Mudder race course under a blazing sun for a whole day's worth of racing. And every one of them, said race promoter Robert Frey, avoided the only mud on the course.We had one mud puddle, Frey said.Not many racers complained. Riding a hilly, winding 3.3-mile loop, the racers exceeded race organizers' speed expectations. Sport-class rider Bruce Patterson hit the highest speed on the day, blasting downhill on a two-foot wide dirt path at 36 m.p.h. Average race speeds were out of sight as well. In the sport-expert race, professional riders from Seattle's Bianchi and Diamondback teams bombed through the single-and-double track at a rate of 11 minutes per loop. Riders in the beginner class rode the loop in about 20 minutes.Mark Hansen won the expert class, even after his brother, Loren, crashed out of the race in a tangle with a lapped sport rider late in the 7-lap race. For his troubles, Loren received a trip to Whidbey General Hospital, while Mark went on to beat top pro-am rider Toby Swanson and pro Dan Norton.Frey said it was a shame to see Loren Hansen go down.Mark and Loren were like a freight train at the front of the race, he said.In the men's sport race, Kurt Brown was the overall winner. Single-speed bike racer Ed Clauson made a strong showing for himself in the sport category as well, finishing the middle of the pack even though his machine sported only one gear.The Mudder also attracted some of the youngest mountain bikers around. In the 12-and-under class, Ryan Frank was the winner, followed by Robert McBride and Noah Jolley.Among 13-18-year-old boys, South Whidbey riders were prominent. Jason Porter took second place behind race winner Forest Hieptps, and was closely followed by Southender Corey Jennings. Paul Richards was tops for beginner men, beating out Don Miller and Peter Fisher in the top-three placings.Jason Porter, as it turns out, was one of the racers who missed having mud. Having learned to mountain bike in a course offered by the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District last year, Porter was used to South Whidbey's wet riding conditions. Hot and dusty was not his thing.It was a good, fun, fast course, Porter said. But the name should be changed.Because there were only 17 women riders in the 135-racer field, they raced together in a single race. Cheri Heckenleigh and Darcy Patterson were top finishers in a race that Robert Frey said was good sized, considering the Mudder is a new event.Billed as a competitive event, the race attracted dozens of local bike racing fans, who couldn't help but feel a strange mixture of love and excitement for the sport since race organizers chose to play the Best of Barry White as musical accompaniment for the racing.Frey said the event would not have happened had it not been for the help of dozens of local volunteers. The race was sponsored by the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, Velocity Bikes, and Jerry Beck & Co."