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Mountain bike specialists ready for Cyclebration

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Mountain bike events make up a large portion of the fourth annual Folsom Cyclebration on Sept. 16-18. Through three days of events riders will compete on the rough and rugged terrain of Folsom and Northern California’s great outdoors. Mountain biking includes five events: the Fam Jam, Time Trial and Cross Country races from Folsom Prison, the Willow Hills Short Track and the Cyclocross. Heath Sherrat, owner of The Hub bicycle shop in Roseville, has been organizing and promoting the Fam Jam since the beginnings of Cyclebration four years ago. The Fam Jam showcases what Sherrat said is the “best in freestyle dirt jumping” on Friday, Sept. 16, the first event of Cyclebration. “Let me tell you, it’s different than when you see it on TV,” said Sherrat. “Bring a chair and be prepared to be entertained. We have some of the world’s best athletes attend our little event and compete with our local riders,” said Sherrat. “There are local kids who can hang with the guys you see on the X-Games and Dew Tour and who knows, maybe one day you will see these locals kids there too.” Three races comprise the Stage Race on Saturday and Sunday—the Mountain Bike Short Track, Time Trial and Cross Country races. Participants can race in one, two or all three events. The cross country race begins at the Folsom Rodeo grounds on Sunday, travels through the south area of Folsom Prison and climbs 400 feet per lap. The time trial is a more than five miles per lap and takes racers through dirt, gravel and all kinds of obstacles. “We have managed to connect up several fire breaks, cow trails, the river levee and an old flume to make a great five-plus course,” said Brian Joder, race organizer, promoter and owner of Bicyclingevents.com. “Also just the fact that you get to race through the prison property and look over your shoulder at the south prison wall and guard towers makes this a very unique venue,” said Joder. Joder also organized the Kids And Adults Racing Trikes (KAART) event, as part of the family events. Keith Purser, owner of Planet Bicycle shop in Folsom, is in charge of the Short Track race at Willow Hills Park, which is the third event of the stage race. Racers use cornering speed and fast climbs through 1.4 miles of 90-foot climbs per lap. The number of laps depends on the age group. “Our race is more spectator-friendly. Shorter course means watching the racers ride by more frequently,” said Purser. “Our venue has easy trails to walk, a nice little lake and a finish-line lawn for relaxing while cheering. We also provide the racers with a BBQ, drinks and Lynda’s Famous cookies.” Arguably even more spectator friendly is the Cyclocross on Saturday. Bruce Kaiser, owner of Kinetic Cycles shop in Elk Grove, was a participant the first year and has since been the race organizer and promoter. Cyclocross bikes are similar to road bikes in frame and the weight of the bike. The bike’s tires are slightly wider than a road bike, but narrower than a mountain bike. Tread on tires also differs for racers. The track is typically 80 to 90 percent off-road terrain and the rest is on pavement of some kind. The bike’s don’t have suspension, but tread through trails, grass, sand and pavement. “The bikes need to be light so they can be carried or shouldered, because there are normally two times per lap where riders are forced to dismount their bikes,” said Kaiser. “Cyclocross is a very spectator-friendly event no matter where it is.” The laps are typically about one and one-half miles or two miles. They wind and zig-zag around a central location and fans can see a lot of the race from one particular venue. “Fans and crowds for Cyclocross are typically crazy,” said Kaiser. “Road racing tends to be more serious and subdued, but cross fans are crazy. There are people with cowbells, others who are screaming and hollering. You name it and cross fans do it.” European Cyclocross events bring hundreds of thousands of fans to weekend events. Kaiser said Cyclebration will be a sight to see.