The next Kenda Cup Qualifier race will take place this weekend in Ashland, Oregon on May 15-16. The 19th annual Spring Thaw mountain bike festival gets underway for a weekend of great racing and is Oregon's largest mountain bike event, offering over US$10,000 in cash and prizes.
The town of Ashland, Oregon, is a cycling hub in the Pacific Northwest and offers riders some of the best singletrack around. This is due in part to Southern Oregon Mountain Bike Association (SOMBA) who is responsible for developing and maintaining an extensive trail network for mountain bike riders to enjoy.
Saturday will begin with a cross country race starting at 9:15 am. Racers will start at Lithia Park on the pavement and immediately begin to climb as they head to Horn Gap Trail. Cat. 3 racers will enjoy a shorter nine-mile course, while the Pro / Cat. 1 / Cat. 2 classes will enjoy the traditional 26-mile epic loop, laced with miles and miles of killer singletrack, twisty decents and breathtaking views as riders ascend to an elevation of about 5000 feet.
Saturday after the cross country race, riders can enjoy the Spring Thaw post-race party held at Standing Stone Brewery in downtown Ashland. Handcrafted Micro Brews and good food will be on tap.
On Sunday, the gravity riders get there shot at the Spring Thaw starting at 11:00 am. The downhillers will face a two-mile downhill course that take place entirely on the Catwalk trail, which offers technical, off camber switchbacks, a couple of wide open straight aways and a little bit of everything.
US Cup marketing Director, Ty Kady is excited about the US Cup coming to the Spring Thaw. "I checked this place out with some locals last year, and I had a blast riding the trails. With the help of race director Amy Warner, we made working with the Spring Thaw folks a must-do event for 2010. I think anyone who travels to this race for the first time will be stoked with the riding experience."
Spring Thaw organizer Amy Warner echoed Kady's sentiments. "The Spring Thaw has been an annual event for 19 years now, and we hope by incorporating the race into the network of Kenda Cup Qualifiers, we can share the event with more racers nationwide."
For more information on the Spring Thaw, visit www.somba.org/springthaw/home.html. For more information on the Kenda Cup qualifying, visit www.uscup.net/up/file/pdf/2010KendaCupguidelines.pdf.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.