Sports

Mudder: Race earns its title

Langley’s Matt Simms negotiates a steep drop along the Whidbey Island Mudder course Sunday. Simms placed seventh overall in the men’s 30-39 sport division. - Sherry Mays
Langley’s Matt Simms negotiates a steep drop along the Whidbey Island Mudder course Sunday. Simms placed seventh overall in the men’s 30-39 sport division.
— image credit: Sherry Mays

After four years of relatively sunny skies, this year’s Whidbey Island Mudder mountain bike race lived up to its name. Skies parted and the sun shone in Clinton and Coupeville, but throughout a 20-acre parcel on the corner of Thompson Road and State Route 525, the ground was wet, even muddy, in some areas on Sunday.

“This is the best race we’ve had to date,” said race organizer Robert Frey. “The low pressure stuck over us and we had some mud.”

For the first time in the race’s six-year history, the Mudder was part of the 2005 Indie XC Mountain Bike Series, a collection of six individual races held by individual promoters. With the added momentum aided by corporate sponsors and team involvement, the race saw about 100 more races than its previous record of 135 participants.

“I was overwhelmed by the positive response,” Frey said. “Being part of the series had a big influence on the turnout. We added 100 people to our numbers.”

The past five races were held on private property on Coles Road. With the recent development of the land, Frey was challenged with finding a new course.

“I was anxious knowing we were doing something different,” he said. “It paid off and everyone had fun.”

The new course, made possible by Alison and Mike Deilke opening up their land for the day, made a two-mile loop possible. Instead of going for a specific number of laps, Frey and his race crew developed a time limit. Beginner and sport women riders rode for an hour, sport men rode for one and one half hours and expert men and women rode for two hours.

“This was a challenging course, but it was fun,” said Chris Fate of Langley. “I’m not used to riding for that hard for that long.

Fate and fellow racer John Henriot generally commute to work in Everett on bikes.

Last year’s beginners women’s leader Erin Simms took on a hearty field in the Sport division and took sixth overall. Simms husband Matt, tore up the course with fellow triathlete Ed Stringer in the 30-39 Men’s sport division, placing seventh, just two spots ahead of Stringer. In his first mountain bike race, local triathlete and Langley Public Works Director Rick Hill rode away with third place in the Beginner Men’s 40-49 race.

Race sponsors were Half Link Bike Shop, Island Asphalt, Heggenes Arboreal, Clif Bar, Tona Beer and FSA. For series information visit www.indieseries.com.

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