Sports

South Whidbey’s Mudder race lives up to its name

Mountain bikers from throughout the Northwest blast off at the start of the beginner
Mountain bikers from throughout the Northwest blast off at the start of the beginner's race Sunday morning in Langley, testing their mettle against a fast track featuring dust, rocks, roots and, yes, mud.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

When Mudder Race organizer Robert Frey wanted to pick the best time of the year to hold a mountain bike event, he looked back at history.

“We looked back over the last 50 years and picked the weekend that worked best,” he said. “As it turned out, in the last eight Mudders only two featured rain.”

Sunday was one of them.

By the time the first race began at 10 a.m., a light sprinkling had tamped down the dust on the 5.6-mile course off Coles Road in Langley.

Midway through, the sun began to shine and it looked as if the day would brighten considerably.

But the fickle finger of fate dictated otherwise — by 2 p.m. racers were whishing through slush and mud.

“Mountain bikers are sturdy folk,” Frey noted. “There’s very little wind and the course looks great.”

As a Johnny Cash song played over loudspeakers and the Mudder Café fired up its burners, hundreds of racers wearing every manner of dress prepared themselves.

Less than 10 percent of the 200 participants came from Whidbey Island, and Frey and fellow organizer Matt Hickman hope that changes next year.

“It’s the nature of the beast; bikers come from as far away as the Olympic Peninsula, Winthrop, Spokane and Vancouver, all willing to travel to have a good time,” Frey said.

Canada, too. Bart Nakano from Abbotsford spends his weekdays in a bike shop and weekends on the road.

“This event is one of my favorites,” he said. “The trail is great and the people friendly. Hey, it’s just too much fun for 30 bucks.”

He rides a modified single-speed mountain bike that allows him to test the trail, not the quality of his derailleur.

“It’s just me and the track,” he said. “It simplifies everything, though I have a suspension fork on the front bars so I cheat a bit.”

Hickman said a little rain wouldn’t stall the racers.

“They look forward to it; mountain bikers thrive on inclement weather,” he said.

Barry Nichols from Seattle agreed.

“This is my first race here but I’ll be back. Great fun,” he said.

In the professional race, Russell Stevenson representing Team BRI came in first; Andreas Stevenson and Kevin Calhoun from Rocky Mountain Bicycles took second and third.

For complete results, visit www.indieseries.com.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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