Mother’s Day is over — time for Mudders day

Erin Simms descends the course during the 2004 downhill mountain bike Mudder Race; bikers can begin registration at 8 a.m. this Sunday for the seventh iteration of this popular event. - Matt Simms
Erin Simms descends the course during the 2004 downhill mountain bike Mudder Race; bikers can begin registration at 8 a.m. this Sunday for the seventh iteration of this popular event.
— image credit: Matt Simms

This year’s seventh Mudder mountain bike race will take place on Sunday with a different course and miles of new trails.

Racers can look forward to a little more singletrack, while still keeping some of the same fast descents and tough climbs as in previous Mudders.

Erin Simms, who raced last year with husband Matt (busy in Iraq with the Navy) felt last year’s course was a little too wet.

“It was muddy,” she said. “We’re back to a trail that has lots of obstacles and is wide open. It’s a fun event, something for everybody. I’ll be there.”

The challenge appeals to Ed Stringer, who came in ninth in the sport division last year on his full-suspension Specialized mountain bike.

“There’s a lot of quick turns and sometimes the wet undergrowth takes its toll,” Stringer said. “The tight trail makes it hard sometimes to safely pass someone.”

Stringer said this year’s race will be longer, harder and more fun.

“The course’s single lap is 5.6 miles, about 15 to 18 miles depending on your category. One of the best parts of this event is meeting new people. Robert (Frey, organizer) really tries to create a family atmosphere. We have a good bike community here.”

It was a thought echoed by Frey himself, who started the race seven years ago to help people take advantage of the unique South Whidbey landscape.

“I saw there was a need,” Frey recalled. “The first year we had 130 riders and it grew from there with the help of local sponsors and volunteers.”

Frey said the course combines up- and downhill, technical single track and wide spots for passing (or being passed). Surfaces range from fast hard-packed earth to large rocks, slippery gravel and unexpected roots.

First-year riders can start as beginners, then move up to sport and expert.

“There’s even a Clydesdale ranking for those over 200 pounds,” Frey noted.

Plus there’s a slot for single-speeders; those whose bikes use only one gear.

Doesn’t that fly in the face of bicycle technical advances made over the years?

“It sets you apart from everyone else, sort of restoring the purity of the sport,” Frey said.

The race is inclusive for everyone, little kids and up.

“We strive to have a low-key, family-friendly event,” Frey said.

He added there will be food, music and prizes to add to the fun.

Ideally, everyone’s bike should be in top condition. Just in case, Langley’s Half Link Bicycle Shop owner David Gardiner is shutting down for the day so he can be on hand providing free technical support.

“I’ll be doing minor adjustment to tires, brakes and linkages before and during the race,” Gardiner said.

One reason South Whidbey is so popular for mountain biking events is the lack of user-conflict with walkers, runners and those who ride horseback.

“This island is perfectly suited for people searching for a healthy lifestyle,” Frey said. “It all fits.”

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