XTERRA grows more local | SierraSun.com

XTERRA grows more local

Photo courtesy of Matt ChappellEric Ronning rides through a meadow of mule ear during a pre-ride on the XTERRA Tahoe City Course on Saturday.

Less than a week after racing in the XTERRA West Championship triathlon in Temecula, I met up with a group of approximately 15 athletes Saturday to pre-ride the inaugural XTERRA Tahoe City mountain bike course led by the race director and Big Blue Adventure Series owner Todd Jackson. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one excited for the hometown race that is still a month away.

“I’m glad I don’t have to drive 10 hours,” said Jim Kaplan of Incline Village, who usually travels to other states to compete in XTERRA races.

Truckee resident and XTERRA competitor Matt Chappell echoed that sentiment.

“There’s not a whole lot of races in Northern California,” Chappell said. “I’m pretty stoked. We have the homefield advantage.”

Jackson, who also designed the XTERRA USA Championship course in Incline Village, said he has been thinking about having a race in Tahoe City for a while.

“My brain is programmed to look for good courses,” Jackson said. “Tahoe City is a really fun town and it’s great to have events right on the beach. It’s fun when you can have a race in a town and incorporate the community.”

The off-road triathlon, scheduled for June 23, starts with a swim from Commons Beach consisting of two 600-meter laps in Lake Tahoe. Athletes then run to a transition area at Tahoe Lake School, where they get on their mountain bikes and head up the road to the trails for a 22-mile ride with 2,500 feet of climbing.

The bike leg of the triathlon starts up a steep paved road, then onto a wide fire road and up another steep, rocky, 300-foot climb and onto winding single track.

“It’s some of the best single-track on the North Shore,” Jackson said. “But there is also some wider sections for passing. It’s fun but challenging.”

The course is what Jackson describes as a “lollipop,” meaning racers ride up the “stick” and then do two large loops and ride back to the transition.

Two flats early on slowed our group down and caused a few riders to take wrong turns, causing Jackson to turn back and do some herding. Most of us were pretty shocked at how dusty the trails were already.

One of the highlights of the course is riding through a meadow of blooming mule ears, which has inspired a possible name for the race.

“I’m thinking about calling it the Mule Ear because of the flowers,” Jackson said. “It should be a spectacle of wild flowers.”

After close to four hours of riding and meeting some fellow racers who were just as excited about the race as I was, we made our way back to our cars.

“The bike has everything,” Tom Lyons of Reno said. “Good climbs and great single-track. I don’t know much about the run, but it’s going to be crazy (because of the elevation gain.)”

The run course has yet to be determined but should be approximately seven miles of trail running with 800 feet of climbing, Jackson said.

“With the elevation and the beauty, it’s going to be one of the top XTERRA events in the country,” Lyons said.

Jackson said he is expecting a good turnout for the race judging by the feedback on Saturday. Sixty people have already registered and Jackson is expecting at least 150 athletes to compete.

“There are so many great athletes around here,” Jackson said. “I hope a lot of locals give it a try.”

A shorter race consisting of a 600-meter swim, a 13-mile mountain bike ride and a three-mile run and a relay is also taking place June 23. For more information on the race, course maps, registration and future pre-rides go to http://www.bigblueadventure.com. The course will be marked a week prior to the event for pre-riding. Volunteers are also needed for course marshals and the transition area. To register as a volunteer go to the above Web site.

Emma Garrard is a photographer for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at egarrard@sierrasun.com.

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