WILMINGTON - With a mix of uphill, downhill, serious competition and family fun, the annual Wilmington-Whiteface Bike Fest is set to kick off today and will last through Sunday.
The weekend's free, family-friendly events begin today at 4 p.m. with "Fun not Fear" mountain bike instruction for beginners.
On Friday, spectators will enjoy incredible stunts, jumps and tricks at the Kyle Ebbett and Friends Jump Jam and Trials exhibition at the Wilmington Bike Park from 6 to 8 p.m., followed by the much-anticipated welcome party at Steinhoff's Sportsman's Inn, featuring live entertainment, a raffle, prizes and the second annual "Best Calves of Wilmington" contest.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, a parade of costumed riders and decorated bikes will participate in the "Brainless not Chainless Gravity Ride" from Santa's Workshop downhill to Lake Everest in Wilmington, where the BikeFest Beach Party begins at 5 p.m., with music, vendors, a pro rider exhibition, family games and awards for the Gravity Rides best costume and best decorated bike.
In addition to the many free family-oriented events, the weekend also includes three sanctioned competitions.
On Saturday, the 11th annual Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race begins at 8 a.m. The race is part of the BUMPS (Bike Up the Mountain Point) series that comprises 10 races on mountains of the Northeast, on courses of varying lengths and pitches.
The Uphill Bike Race will be followed by the Whiteface downhill dual slalom races, which begin at noon.
Sunday's action includes the Pro GRT Whiteface seventh annual 5k Down Hill. This event is expected to draw approximately 200 professional and amateur racers.
The second annual Wilmington/Whiteface 100k race takes place with a shotgun start at 7 a.m. Sunday. The 100k race is a qualifier for the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in Colorado.
For mountain bikers who like high-elevation racing on the most rugged of terrain, the Leadville Trail 100 is the holy grail. As one of the most well-known mountain bike races, getting into the Leadville Trail 100 has always been difficult. One way to get in is by racing in one of the six 2012 LT100 Qualifiers across the country, each offering 100 total qualifying starting positions.
The 100k race in Wilmington will start and finish at Whiteface Mountain, home of the 1980 Olympic alpine competitions, and weave its way through jeep roads, backcountry tails, Jay and Saddleback mountains and through the towns of Wilmington, Jay, Lewis, Elizabethtown and Keene before a grueling 2,501-feet climb awaits the racers at Whiteface ahead of the finish line.
"There's something there for everyone," said the LT 100 qualifying series technical director David Weins, a six-time LT 100 champion. "From singletrack, rugged backcountry roads, gravel and dirt roads, not to mention the climbs and descents, this course is going to offer a significant challenge. Perhaps similar to the LT 100 itself."
"Wilmington and Whiteface Mountain comprise a mecca for outdoor recreation - from skiing and riding to world-class fly fishing and cycling," said Randy Preston, supervisor of the town of Wilmington. "Together, the Bike Fest events serve to highlight some of the greatest road and mountain bike terrain in the Adirondacks."