GUNNISON— For mountain bike racers, conditions were perfect for debut races at a new 5.8 mile course built near the Gunnison reservoir on Saturday.
The new race course built by the Manti Trail Builders and the Manti Mountain Bike Team was in great condition with a perfect mix of moisture and cool temperatures to create a firm and dust-free track that racers call “hero dirt,” said Coach Monica Nielson. Hero dirt is earth that has the right moisture content for optimum traction.
“Mother Nature was on our side and we had the best race course conditions we could have asked for,” Nielson said. She admitted that she started to get nervous on Monday that the race might not happen because rain was in the forecast.
However, the entire track area handled the light rainfall really well, and the precipitation kept the dust down in the parking lot and pit zones too, Nielson said. The race was a great success and there were many positive comments about the venue from out of town racers, Nielson said. Some racers said this may turn out to be their favorite course.
Andy Adamson, President of the Manti Trail Builders and an instrumental force in building the race track and other mountain bike trails, said the venue needed a little bit of moisture to keep the dust down, but not too much rainfall to turn the pit zone into a muddy bog.
“And we got everything we could have asked for,” he said. “Our prayers were answered.”
Adamson said league officials were very positive about the track and they will be meeting to schedule races at the Gunnison venue in the future, probably next year.
There was plenty of space for parking and ample space for the pit zone, Adamson said.
The pit zone is a designated area where racing teams set up their tents and congregate.
This was the final regional race of the season for the Manti Mountain Bike Team; they are part of the southern region of the Utah Chapter of National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), Adamson said.
With the Utah Chapter splitting from four to six regions after this season, there is a very good chance that Gunnison will host two races next year, Nielson said.
There are also many positive economic impacts to hosting a sanctioned mountain bike race, said Dallas Cox, a board member of the Manti Trail Builders.
There were about 2,500 people in attendance and 792 racers, Nielson said. The high school bikers competed in six waves, with the first wave of varsity racers starting out at 8:20 a.m. and the last wave of freshman racers finishing late into the afternoon. The award ceremonies at the podium started early in the evening.
There were 15 Manti riders who qualified for state competition in St. George on Oct. 22-23.
Manti’s top finishers on Saturday were Shaun Meade, who took second place in the freshmen boy’s category and Jared Gerber, who took fourth place in the freshmen boy’s category.
Having a nice track to practice on will improve the team’s prospects for the future, Adamson said.
Nielson received a lot of positive comments on her computer app from other coaches and parents from out of town. Some of the remarks were:
“Really knocked this one out of the park!”
“Great job guys! This is a really great race venue. I hope we are back next year.”
“Your team and your venue are the best!”
“Huge shout out to the Manti team and community. What an amazing course! Thank you for all your hard work putting it together.”
“Lots of my racers commented about how this is now one of their favorite courses.”
Nielson said there was a great deal of community support and many people who helped to make this race possible. But she especially wanted to give special thanks to the riders, coaches and parents of the Manti team; Andy Adamson, trail builder extraordinaire; The Manti Trail Builders Association for all their hard work; Jason Cowley and Jake Weber for course design and input; Manti City for loads of road base; Barton Excavating for cutting trail and dirt work; Sanpete County for road work to the venue; Rodger Brazell for epic “Rhythm Section” and the following teams for coming to our volunteer build days: American Fork, Skyridge, Lehi and Nebo Comp.
In turn, Adamson wanted to give a special shout out to Coach Nielson for all the hard work she put in.
The conception of building a mountain bike race course in Gunnison has been in the works for a couple of years now.
The Manti Trail Builders have worked all summer with volunteers and local governments to get ready for the race. Thousands of volunteer hours have been employed to carve out the course.
The course was developed in 2019 on land near the north end of Gunnison Reservoir. It started out as a 4.6 loop on land owned by the Gunnison Irrigation Company and the BLM.
The Manti Trail Builders have been responsible for building and maintaining trails for biking and walking all over Sanpete County. They have finished a beautiful trail loop in Palisade State Park and they are working with the Forest Service to build a trail system in Ephraim Canyon, Adamson said.
Nielson tells of the “core principles” of the Utah High School Cycling League: “fun, inclusivity, equality, respect and community. Their vision is to strengthen the body, mind and character of the participants through the sport of cycling.”
For the complete racing results, visit http://www.utahmtb.org.