The final round of USA Cycling's 2011 US Pro XCT is just under one month away on July 23-24. The organizers of the Missoula XC race are gearing up for the largest mountain bike event ever to be held in the state of Montana.
The Missoula XC will take place at Marshall Mountain, a retired ski hill, just outside of the city. The four-plus kilometer loop, which gains 900 vertical feet per lap, has been completed and is receiving finishing touches. It has been receiving rave reviews by local Missoula riders.
"The course is riding well and we are excited to show racers a great representation of Montana and Missoula riding," said Ben Hornan, course designer.
"We are holding a weekday evening training race series starting this Wednesday, June 29 and every Wednesday including race week. This will help us further refine the course through race condition feedback from the weekday participants," said Horan.
"The course is fun and technical, combining all the best features of Missoula-style trails, punchy climbs and some great descents await race participants," said Brian Williams, Technical Advisor, who worked closely with the Montana Conservation Corps to rough in the cross country course.
The Missoula XC is being billed as a local celebration of mountain biking. "They get to race and see the top athletes of their favorite sport duke it out on a local trail," said Shaun Radley, Promoter. "Live music, a beer garden and food vendors will make this a fun summer event to watch on this spectator friendly course."
"We know it's been a long season for the pros and amateur racers and this being the fifth and final stop for the 2011 Pro XCT, we wanted to create a friendly casual vibe for locals, amateur racers and pros a like," said Hadley.
There is quite a bit of history for cross country mountain biking in Missoula, Montana. The only bicycle corps in the US Army was stationed in Missoula before the Spanish American War and that corps rode from Missoula to St. Louis, Missouri by bike.
Missoula can claim ties to several current pro mountain bike racers. "We have four with ties to Missoula. Three grew up here: Sam (Subaru-Trek) and Andy Schultz (Kenda-Felt) and Zephanie Blasi (Stan's NoTubes). The fourth pro, Georgia Gould (Luna), graduated from the University of Montana in Missoula and bought her first mountain bike at Missoula Bicycle Works," said Radley.
Local pro Sam Schultz tweeted about riding the course recently, "The course is super fun at speed. Can't wait to race it!" and also about the "A-line" jump, "The missoulaxc.org A line is buttery smooth. Spandex, carbon and air. What's not to like?"
Visit www.missoulxc.org for more information on the event.