Island riders are good Mudders

Even if racing a bicycle over rocks, through dust, into mud puddles and up against trees, nettles and blackberries doesn't sound like much fun to most people, a big crowd of mountain bikers were thrilled to turn out May 18 to do just that.

At the fourth annual Whidbey Island Mudder mountain bike race, about 100 racers -- the second largest field in the race's history -- tackled trails between Coles and Crawford roads for a day full of down and dirty competition.

Whidbey Islanders were a big part of the field and took a number of high placings in the event. In the beginner women's division -- the shortest race of the day at 11 miles -- Dawn Dixon of Oak Harbor was the top islander with a fourth-place finish, while her fellow Oak Harborite, Linda Basic, was fifth.

In the beginner mens 13-18 race, Ben Hardenberg -- another Oak Harbor resident -- placed second behind winner Devin Buckham. South Whidbey placers were Randall Lees, Michael Bakke and Becker Anderson, taking fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

Among adult beginners, Miles Nichols and Josh Wellman of South Whidbey were tops, placing first and second in the mens division. In the mens sport class -- which was open to riders of intermediate ability -- Langley's Kai Flemming-Snow had the best island finish at fifth place. Of the other islanders, Chris Heggenes finished sixth, David Gardiner ninth and Brett Ginther 14th.

In the 25-mile expert class, there were no island competitors. James Gritters of Olympia won the race, establishing himself as the top rider at the event.

The Mudder, which is organized by One-Speed Promotions of Langley, was sponsored by Half Link Bicycle Shop, Island Asphalt, Island Recycling, Bicycles Northwest, Payless Foods and Sherry Mays.

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