Sports

Mountain bikers descend on Langley this weekend

Mountain bike riders take off for their grueling 5.6-mile bike ride through the woods of Langley in last year
Mountain bike riders take off for their grueling 5.6-mile bike ride through the woods of Langley in last year's Whidbey Island Mudder.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / Record file

It’s a race only a “mudder” would love.

Provided she showed up with her trusty Stumpjumper.

Mountain bikers from all over the Northwest will gather Sunday for the 11th-straight Whidbey Island Mudder mountain-bike race in Langley.

Bikers come from as far away as the Olympic Peninsula, Winthrop, Spokane, Vancouver and even Canada, all willing to travel a far distance to have a good time, said organizer Matt Hickman.

The 5.6-mile course off Coles Road has been spruced up a bit.

“The course will be familiar to riders from previous Mudders, but we’ve cut a new, twisty single-track trail to make things a little more interesting,” Hickman said.

Conditions may be close to perfect.

“We’ve heard the day will be clear, but the course will be a little muddy after all the rain,” he added. “Over the years, we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather. We’re definitely hoping that holds true for this weekend. If it rains, it rains. Mountain bikers are a tough lot.”

Besides looking forward to a little more single track, racers can still expect some of the same fast descents and tough climbs.

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

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

The course combines uphills and downhills, technical single and double tracks and wide spots for passing (or being passed). Surfaces range from fast hard-packed earth to large rocks, slippery gravel and more than a few gnarly roots.

“The Mudder is a blast to put on,” Hickman noted. “The local race scene is a pretty tight-knit group, and their support — from volunteering to simply racing their bikes — is invaluable.”

First-year riders can start as beginners, then move up to sport and expert. And it wouldn’t be a Mudder without a Clydesdale ranking for those over 200 pounds, organizer and race founder Robert Frey noted.

Plus, there’s a slot for single-speeders, those whose vehicles use only one gear, defying all the advances made in bike-tech the past 20 years.

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

The race is inclusive for everyone. Kids 10 and younger are invited to race for free, right after the experts start.

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

That being said, on this day a wise islander would do well to stay off the track as the bikers whiz by, ever faster.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. Sunday and closes fifteen minutes before the start of each race; $30 for those 19 and older and $15 for 18 and younger.

Beginners and youth begin at 10 a.m., expert and junior expert at noon, sport and Clydesdale at 2 p.m. The kids race follows the expert start.

To get there, follow the race signs on Highway 525, then go north on Coles Road about a half mile; the entrance to the course is on the left.

For details, visit www.indieseries.com or call Hickman at 425-308-1999.

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