US cross country national championship course gets epic for amateurs

US Cross Country Mountain Bike Nationals at Sun Valley, Idaho in 2011. They will return in July of 2012.

US Cross Country Mountain Bike Nationals at Sun Valley, Idaho in 2011. They will return in July of 2012. (Image credit: Ride Sun Valley)

Organizers of the USA Cycling Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho, announced a new course for the amateur racers in 2012.

Recognizing that last year's Ho Chi Minh Trail (aka Bald Mountain Trail) "might not have been the best use of brain cells", promoters are guaranteeing a true mountain biking experience with a new race course and format. The leg breaking for 2012 will occur on a circumnavigation of Bald Mountain via Cold Springs, Warm Springs and River Run Trails.

Taking in some of the scenic trails in the Sun Valley region this single loop format is a first for the area. Racers will start and finish at River Run like last year. However this year's route will travel clockwise racing down the Big Wood River, climbing up Cold Springs and wrapping around to the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain. From there, racers will climb up Maiden Lane to the Sunset Strip before descending the swooping River Run descent to the finish. With nearly 3,000 feet of climbing over 20 miles, no rider will finish begging for more. Ample passing, great descending and a mix of blazing sun and soothing shade make this ride one that will not be soon forgotten.

The US cross country nationals will take place from July 5-7 as part of the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival. The week begins on June 30 with a USA Cycling US Pro UET round, the Galena Grinder, and on July 1 with the first ever Baldy Super Duper Downhill.

There is no word on any changes to the pro cross country national championship course. In 2011, the elites competed on a sub-four mile course starting and finishing at the River Run Lodge at Mt. Baldy. Georgia Gould (Luna) and Todd Wells (Specialized) won the women's and men's events.

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