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Mountain Biking Fever Rises

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It might not be the dog days of summer yet, but these summer days sure are perfect for mountain biking in north Idaho and western Montana. Events are taking place nearly every weekend as well as during the week and the opportunity to jump on a bike and just take off can be almost irresistible to anyone with an inclination for pedaling.

 In recent MTB activity, Team Sports Plus racked up some impressive results in Winthrop Washington at the sixth WIM tri-state series race in mid June. Winthrop is a quaint little tourist community in North central Washington that hosts some of the best single track riding in the Northwest. Every racer agreed that this was one of the most fun cross-country races in the entire WIM series. Pro cross country racer Jamie Yanik (Giant/Sports Plus) earned himself the top spot on the podium again even after a serious crash on the first lap that left him 50 feet downhill off the trail. By the end of the 40-mile race he had regained the lead and left the rest of the pack about three minutes behind. Bruce Trejos, owner of Sports Plus, found himself back on the podium with an impressive second place finish in the sport men 40-49 division. Chris Bier placed 14th in this race also in the sport men 40-49 division. Sandy Thomas stood on the podium in 4th place in the sport men 50+ division. JoBeth Thomas placed 5th in the sport women 40-49 division. Both Sandy and JoBeth are leading their respective categories overall for the series. Leah Lokan (Bier) placed 2nd in the expert women 40-49 division. Mike Filipowski was the 12th finisher in the expert men 19-29 division. First time racer Debby Shmit placed 2nd in the beginner women 30-39 division. Jeff Smith placed 4th in the beginner men 19-29 division.

 On Sunday morning the clouds opened up and dropped a fair amount of rain on the Downhill course leaving riders wondering whether they needed to switch to mud tires. Mother Nature gave us a break, the rain stopped and the course was only slightly wet and dust free. Two racers from Team Sports Plus earned spots on the podium. Pro Downhill racer Greg Smith (Lenz Sport/Sports Plus) found himself on top. Scott Campbell also made his way to the podium earning a third place finish in the junior sport division even after crashing in practice and breaking his brake lever and shifter. He duct taped his brake lever back on and left his chain in the hardest gear and headed back to the top for his race run. 

 Team Sports Plus enjoyed a sweltering, yet successful competition in Wenatchee in late June.  The temperature was 95 degrees on race day, adding to the challenges of abrupt, technical demands, which took a toll on many riders’ gears and chains.  

The racing field seems to get tougher and faster every year and Team Sports Plus has been pounding the dirt to reach the WIM Series Team Championship, which they won last year.  Out of the 11-team competition the Sandpoint team is fourth place as they approach the season final race at Schweitzer on July 13 and 14.

At the Wenatchee race, Greg Smith won first place for the team in the grueling sport downhill/cross country event. Chris Ginzton also raced downhill for the junior sport and claimed first place.  In the cross-country event, Jeff Smith honed his technical skills for a second place in the 19-29 beginner division. Chris Bier had his best race of the season coming up from 12th in the pack to finish 3rd in the sport men 40-49. Sandy Thomas was hotly contested in the 14-man, sport 50+ division to finish 3rd.  His wife JoBeth had a spectacular crash on her last lap, slapping her face in the dirt, breaking her glasses, cracking her helmet and picking herself up to race the last two miles, crossing the finish line with a shiner and second place in sport women’s 40-49.  Mike Schenkel, racing 20 miles in the expert division, brought the team a third place win.

Other racers from Sandpoint doing well this season include Sara Wisner, an expert woman 30-39. She had the fastest women’s time of the day by five minutes. Leah Lokan, woman’s expert 40-49 is seated second place going into the series finals. Jeff Welp, sport 30-39, finished eighth out of 32 racers in the largest, most competitive class.   Jamie Yanik, racing pro, national and local, continues to dominate first place among the elite racers in the WIM cross-country, hill climb and fat tire criterion.

This year Team Sports Plus has been fortunate to have several Sandpoint businesses supporting the team effort and the sport of mountain biking.  Team Sports Plus greatly appreciates the community involvement and would like to thank Bonner General Hospital, Total Physical Therapy, Pend Oreille Winery, Merrell & Hutchens, Litehouse Dressings and Dips, Klein Bikes, Hammer Nutrition and Pedros for making this a great year.

In other mountain biking news, the Schweitzer Hillclimb the last day of June was a great success It’s an annual event sponsored by Alpine Designs. For information about other activities organized by the mountain bike gurus at AD, like the weekly Wednesday night rides and the upcoming Jerry Fest, stop by the shop at the corner of Fifth and Main. And by the way, Toby announces the donation of a mountain bike frame to be raffled at the fourth annual Vermilion River Challenge mountain bike race and family fun ride in early September.

The month of July is full of MTB opportunities, including the Twilight Series every Wednesday evening on Schweitzer. The Green Owl Rendezvous, sponsored by Ken Barrett and All About Adventures (check his website for the schedule and other information at www.allaboutadventures.com) is an event not to be missed.

And a new cross country and downhill race is being offered at Libby’s Turner Mountain on July 20. Called the Turner Burner, organizer Steve Coon guarantees a great time about 23 miles north of Libby. For information about this event contact Lynn Cain at 406-293-5512 or Carol Lisle at 406-293-8617. The Turner Burner will include a Technical Stunt Exhibition by Missoula’s Extreme Mountain Bike Safety Team, a youth race, live music, free prize drawings and some killer cross country and downhill courses for avid mountain bikers. Pre-registration for this event costs $15 plus $5 for a one-day NORBA license. Participants can register online at www.sportsbuy.com or www.bikereg.com. 



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Author info

Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

Tagged as:

outdoors, recreation, mountain biking, Team Sports Plus, All About Adventures, MTB

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