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Pedal Pundits are Pounding the Pavement

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     April showers bring May flowers and petals of beautiful color. But May brings another sort of petal as well – the kind of pedal that propels one from this place to that whether on asphalt, gravel or dirt. The season for mountain biking is upon us, and in case you did not know, few places on the planet offer the plethora of mountain biking opportunities found right here in the fabulous Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Valley.
    Biking is one of the fastest growing activities in the country today, and it matters not if you’re on a street bike, BMX bike, touring bike or mountain bike, or any other kind of bike; they’re all great fun! But in these parts it’s likely the mountain bike that rules. That’s partly because of the thousands of miles of forest roads and trails climbing and winding throughout the surrounding mountain ranges and also partly because of the energy behind mountain biking generated by a few focused individuals.
    Bruce Trejos of Sports Plus, Toby Feuling of Alpine Designs and Ken Barrett of All About Adventures are some of those who love mountain biking and love to get others riding.
    Since mid-March Bruce’s Team Sports Plus has been competing in the Washington-Idaho-Montana (WIM) Mountain Bike racing series. Already five of the nine races have been completed, but the best are yet to come. Three of them are in Washington, but on July 13 and 14 the finals of the WIM Series will be held on the Mountain by the Lake: it’ll be the Schweitzer Dirt and Rock Tour.
    Among the local riders representing northern Idaho in these races, Sandpoint’s Jamey Yanik continues his rise to stardom, now as a member of the Pro Men’s circuit. Racing for Giant Bicycles and Sports Plus, he has competed in the cross-country events featured at four of the first five races and has three firsts and a second to show for his efforts. He also achieved a first place finish in the Hillclimb event at the Olympic Meltdown at Port Angeles a month ago.
    Others who are repeatedly doing well include Sandy and Jobeth Thomas of Sandpoint. Racing for Team Sports Plus, both have regularly finished in the top four or five of their events. Sandy competes in the Sport Men 50+ division and Jobeth rides in the Sport Women 40-49 division.
    Chris Bier is another Sports Plus rider who Bruce depends on to make a good showing for his team, as well as Leah Lokan. And Bruce himself is an accomplished competitor often found in the top ten finishers of the Sport Men 40-49 division.
    Several other riders from the area racing from time to time in the WIM Series include Brandon Kaastad (who had a first place finish at Spokane’s Beacon Bomber in the Sport Men 30-39 division); Sara Wisner among Expert Women 30-39; Athol’s Jason Chase who has placed 5th and 6th among Expert Men 30-39 in the last two races; Jeff Welp, Mike Filipowski and Jeff Smith, to name a few.
    But you don’t have to be a racer to enjoy riding a mountain bike. Toby Feuling makes sure of that.
    If anyone understands the fun that can be had on a mountain bike, it’s Toby. He has a lineup of events scheduled throughout the summer that most fun-seekers and serious riders won’t want to miss. To get a good look at some of the opportunities coming up, check out the Bikers Soiree and Info Night at Alpine Designs on May 10 and 11 at 5:30. On hand will be maps and details about area events as well as clinics that’ll help bikers better understand their bikes. Appetizers and beverages will be provided.
    Part of the spectacular Lost in the 50’s weekend will be a Classic Cruzier Rally in the parade on May 17. Alpine Designs has an impressive collection of classics that’ll be on display May 18 from 9 to 5.
    A benefit for North Idaho Bikeways will be held on June 1 and 2 during the Bike Swap and Auction at Alpine Designs. Like the Schweitzer-to-City Beach marathon organized by Dave “Chops” DeLeauw and the Spring Bike Rally at AD that raised over $700 for NIB, the bike swap will help fund the ever-expanding network of bike trails connecting the communities in the greater Sandpoint area.
    A lot more will be happening throughout the summer, including the upcoming 4th annual Vermilion River Challenge in early September. To get the scoop on the great mountain biking fun to be had, check with Bruce at Sports Plus or go see Toby at Alpine Designs. If you want to get into some guided and fully supported activities, log onto www.allaboutadventures.com and see what the ubiquitously well-known Ken Barrett is up to; find more WIM Series results at www.roundandround.com; and then take a look at the newly developed site for a great and growing event at www.vermilionriverchallenge.com.
    All in all, despite the May snow squalls hindering the struggling Mayflowers recently, this is going to be a great year to be on a bike. See you on the pavement, the gravel or the dirt. I might be face down, so don’t run me over.

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

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