National Ability Center’s annual Summit Challenge returns Aug. 24 |

National Ability Center’s annual Summit Challenge returns Aug. 24

Pamela Bro, left, and her daughter Chelsea Robinson throw their arms into the air as they pedal across the finish line of the Summit Challenge at the National Ability Center Saturday, August 27, 2016. The two participated in the 16-mile race, pedaling on a tandem recumbent bike.(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst

Over the last 12 years, the National Ability Center has funded organized and hosted the Summit Challenge, a bike ride for participants of all abilities. Come Saturday, Aug. 24, the Summit Challenge returns to Park City as nearly 800 riders will take to one of four courses with the simple goal of having fun.

“Each year the community support, excitement and participation surrounding Summit Challenge grows,” said Kevin Stickelman, CEO of the National Ability Center in a press release. “Approximately 800 cyclists, from children to veterans, gather at the National Ability Center to experience the outdoors through this adaptive event that allows us to continue to expand our recreational and adventure programming for people of all abilities. We provide over 2,600 mountain biking and cycling lessons annually and this event is a tremendous moment for our community to show off their skills and hard work.”

According to the NAC, the Summit Challenge is the largest ride for cyclists of all abilities in Utah. The challenge’s proceeds go to numerous programs and activities the NAC puts on throughout the year.

For those looking to participate in the ride itself, registration closes at midnight on Wednesday, Aug. 21. For adaptive athletes still looking for a partner to help them ride, the NAC has people who are ready to step up and help out. Also, equipment rentals are available. There are five courses from which riders can choose to participate on. There’s a one-mile “discovery loop,” as well as 16-, 50-, 80- and 100-mile courses for more experienced riders. The 100-mile portion of the Summit Challenge includes the chance for them to ride up Wolf Creek Ranch, a two-mile climb that is typically reserved for those competing in the Tour of Utah.

“It’s such a cool concept because you choose your own level of challenge,” said Alex Mendelson, recreation program manager at the NAC. “The 16-mile course will be fairly flat, so not too difficult. … The other three courses will all have high-level elevation gains in them, making them more difficult and rides that you actually have to train for.”

For Mendelson, this will be his fifth time riding in the event, something he has grown very passionate about since joining the NAC four and a half years ago. As a recreation program manager, cycling is one of the programs he manages, so he and his staff put together a 10-week cycling program with the objective of preparing for the Summit Challenge.

“We had about 35 people who participated in the 10-week program, with most of them participating in the upcoming Summit Challenge,” Mendelson said. “It was really nice because they can practice on the exact course that they will do come the day of the event. We did it in the evenings because it was cooler and that helped getting people to show up to do the sessions.”

In the end, one of the goals of the Summit Challenge is to “build community through biking,” according to Mendelson. Of the nearly 800 riders who will be participating, one in five of them are adaptive athletes, meaning this ride is far more than just getting on a bike and going for a ride.

According to Mendelson, with Park City being such a pro-cycling community, the Summit Challenge provides these adaptive athletes with a way of getting to know others in the community who have similar interests. The social aspect of the challenge is just as big as participating in the ride, giving these athletes a way of finding out what they’re truly capable of and having the support of others.

The activities are scheduled to begin before 7 a.m. when the race starts. There will be bagels, coffee and other refreshments made available to those, as well as a couple of bike tuning stations for people looking to make any last second adjustments. Lunch and all types of beverages will be provided at 11 a.m. at the Event Village, while a DJ plays music throughout the celebration. An awards ceremony is scheduled to end the event at 2:30 p.m.

“Apart from the pre-event shenanigans that we will have, there will be different booths with different organizations for cycling and adaptive products that everyone can take a look at,” Mendelson said. “Then it’ll hopefully turn into a big celebration where we can all celebrate a love for cycling and helping bring the community closer together.”

Volunteers are still needed. If interested, contact or 435.649.3991 x625. For more information about the National Ability Center’s Summit Challenge, visit

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