Onewheel race comes to Northstar: 100 riders to compete in Race for the Rails
This weekend a new event will hit the mountain bike trails at Northstar California Resort.
Roughly 100 athletes on Onewheels will battle down the resort’s terrain during three days of competition as part of the Race for the Rail competition.
Onewheels, which are single-wheeled, electric boards, are designed to mimic the experience of surfing or snowboarding on any terrain. The boards weigh roughly 25 pounds, and have an inflatable tire in the center. Riders can lean forward to increase their speed up to roughly 20 mph or lean back to brake.
“Riding a Onewheel is not very hard. Everyone can do it,” said Onewheel Chief Evangelist Jack Mudd. “It’s actually balancing you. It’s got a lot of technology and sensors in there that are helping you balance. Wherever you lean you go, and it’s just this really, really smooth experience.
“It feels a little bit like snowboarding on powder. Just being on that big, air-filled tire gives you this really floaty riding experience. It also means you can ride on any kind of terrain. That’s why we are able to do this on mountain biking trails.”
This weekend’s event at Northstar will mark the fifth Race for the Rail competition. The previous four were held in conjunction with the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail.
“The race had pretty humble beginnings with really our own employees wanting to find out who’s the fastest Onewheeler,” said Mudd. “The first year was very grassroots. We just kind of built some ramps, rode around, kind of raced each other, and we looked around and there was probably 60 or 70 people watching, and we thought, maybe there’s something here.”
This year’s event will be the largest Race for the Rail, thus far, and features a boardercross format with heats of four athletes racing down Northstar’s mountain bike trails.
“We’ve been limited in the past in terms of what we could do — what sort of access we had. This year, we’ve teamed up with Northstar, and they’ve given us access to some of the mountain biking trails. The racing is going to be must watch,” said Mudd.
“They have a world-class course to compete on and to ride down … it starts with sort of a snake run, then runs under the gondola for a while … and then they come down into the jump park and out on to the fire road, and finish down at The Overlook, which is where our set up is.”
The field of around 100 athletes will begin to be whittled down on Friday, at 4 p.m., with a round of time trials. Another round of trials will be held the following morning, and then the top 16 riders will be put into brackets for three rounds of racing. South Tahoe rider Dave Stewart won last year’s event, and will return to defend his title.
Tickets to the event, which features after-parties, movie screenings, live music, and food and drinks, have sold out, but spectators can still come to The Village at Northstar to check out the racing. Race for the Rail will also be live streamed on Onewheel’s YouTube channel.
Aside from the Race for the Rail, there will be clinics, vendors, an age 50-and-older competition, a race featuring riders that weigh at least 215 pounds, a distance race, and women and youth racing. A Onewheel trick competition will cap off Saturday’s competition.
“People are doing all kinds of stuff. Folks are going off things that are like 5 feet high, doing all kinds of slides on rails. The Onewheel world has evolved. I never expected people to ride them off-road, if I’m honest,” said Mudd.
“People just sort of take it in whatever direction they’re interested, and so you have this group of people that are very technical and do these 180s and 360s, and all the grinding stuff. Then you have people who just want to go ride trails, and you have people that just ride to work … most people use them to ride over to the store and go pick up some milk. Most people aren’t racing them.”
For more information on Onewheel or this weekend’s event, visit Onewheel.com.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.