Nonprofit will use race series to benefit Utah biking | ParkRecord.com

Nonprofit will use race series to benefit Utah biking

The Mid Week MTB series kicked off on May 1 in Heber, followed by a race at Round Valley on Tuesday, May 8.

For more than a decade, the series was run by Luke Ratto and Brooke Howard. This is the series' first season after the two gifted it to Bike Utah, a Salt Lake City based nonprofit that advocates for cycling in Utah.

The regional mountain biking series is now poised to be a significant moneymaker for Bike Utah, which plans on applying that income to the nonprofit's biking advocacy projects, said Phil Sarnoff, the organization's director.

Sarnoff said the series also provides a way for the organization to interact with mountain bikers, who haven't typically been part of its base.

"We historically have been more of a commuter and roadie advocacy organization," Sarnoff said. "We have to start making the tent bigger."

Jackie Baker is a major part of expanding that tent.

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Baker, who was not a member of Bike Utah when the Mid Week series was acquired, was chosen to run the races based on her experience in the mountain biking community.

She worked as a fundraiser for the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, then quit to start a coffee truck called Dose SLC last year. During that time she started working part time with Bingham Cyclery as an event planner, which frequently took her to the Mid Week series.

When the coffee truck didn't pan out, it freed Baker to work with the Mid Week series, and its organizers recommended her as a new race director.

"I'm stoked to be doing it, because I wanted to do something to promote cycling in the community," Baker said. "It's also an extra bonus that the funds benefit cycling across Utah, even though the races all happen here in the Wasatch front."

Baker hopes that all of the registration fees from the 2019 season will go to funding biking projects, though sponsorships have not covered the full overhead costs of the series this season,

If she is successful in garnering the requisite sponsorships, registration fees will go to programs like Bike Utah's Youth Bicycle Education and Safety Training Program, which teaches bike riding and safety techniques to approximately 3,000 Utah students each year, according to its website.

Bike Utah has also partnered with the Gov. Gary Herbert in the 1,000 Miles Project, which aims to create 1,000 miles of bike paths, trails and lanes in Utah by 2028.

The series also encourages service among its riders by offering race points to those who show up for dig days – when volunteers work on the trail systems the series rides. By participating in a dig day, a rider can earn 50 points toward his or her series score. Winning a race nets a racer 200 points, while coming in last earns 10. Racers can attend as many of the five dig days as they want, and supplement points for the seven cross-country races.

"It's a great way to make up for a missed race, or a crash; (a) flat tire," Baker said. "I want everyone to come and race these courses, but I'm also fine with people coming out and racking up a bunch of points by taking care of our local trails."

Recently, Baker said the series has been growing in popularity, especially in the women's sport division, where numbers rivaled the men's division at the Round Valley event.

"We're just really happy to be taking it on, and it's a whole new group of people exposed to our organization," Sarnoff said. "And it's just a really welcoming community. It's not like people come out and are super aggressive – we have everything from two-year-old kids on strider bikes to pros and masters. We want everyone, regardless of how new or experienced they are as a mountain biker, to come out and give it a try."

For current standings, race dates and dig day dates, go to midweekmtb.com.

Mini Enduro Series

Mid Week MTB is debuting a mini eduro series this season, with three mini enduro events on the calendar and one “outlier event,” a women’s mini enduro at Highstar Ranch in Kamas.

For those not acquainted with the format, Baker described enduro races as “a way of making downhill more accessible.”

Racers are only timed on mostly downhill sections of the race, which is broken down into stages and run in heats.

“The idea is that you can have a little bit more of a downhill race, where you can rally a trail that’s basically descending, but you don’t have to waste all your energy climbing,” Baker said.

Additionally, as racers pedal to the start of their next stage or wait for their heat, they can socialize with other racers.

The downhill sections aren’t so steep that they necessitate a specialized downhill bike, which opens the competition up to a broader range of racers and skill levels.

This season’s first mini enduro event is on May 22 at Corner Canyon in Draper. For more information go to MidWeekMTB.com