A death-defying gravity event approved by officials who officially sanction, govern and/or police such official undertakings has the potential to be about as exciting as an annual meeting of mid-level accountants.
While this weekend’s Whiteface 5K in Lake Placid, New York is a sanctioned – and therefore officially official – stop on USA Cycling’s Pro Mountain Bike Gravity Tour, race promoter and Whiteface bike park builder “Downhill” Mike Scheur is anything but a desk-riding bureaucrat. Yeah, the Whiteface 5K is an official USAC downhill event, but Scheur is thinking more along the lines of adrenaline buzzed bash.
To wit: Downhill Mike says the best parties have three ingredients; they’re big, cheap and involve somebody you know doing something memorably stupid. Downhill Mike says this weekend’s Whiteface downhill meets all the qualifications.
“Most racers haven’t raced down a mountain, they’ve only ridden down hills,” Downhill Mike says. “We’ve built the gnarliest course we could. Hard and technical. But we also have two speed sections where the riders have been topping out at nearly 50 mph. That’s the speed the Tour de France guys come down a mountain on a smooth paved road.”
The Whiteface 5K features almost a half-mile of vertical drop down a 3-mile trail on the mountain that was the venue for the 1980 Winter Olympic alpine skiing races. And even with the speed sections, Downhill Mike says only eight riders finished the 2008 race in less than 8 minutes – though most will probably be on the course longer than that, he says.
The Whiteface 5K is part of both the Pro Gravity Tour and the Gravity East Series, which will include a round of the $500-purse Gravity East e.thirteen dual slalom series, “because crashes rock,” according to what our guess is semi-official race media hype.
The current leaders of the Pro GRT, of which Whiteface is the last stop, who will be vying for a portion of the $5,000 downhill purse are:
1. Chris Heath (Durango, Colo./Manitou-Hayes) 149
2. Kain Leonard (Gunnison, Colo./Crested Butte Mountain Sports) 100
3. Joey Schusler (Boulder, Colo./Yeti-Fox Shox) 100
4. Chris Boice (Albuquerque, N.M./Yeti) 90
5. Cameron Cole (NZL/Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) 90
1. Darian Harvey (Durango, Colo./Cannondale) 280
2. Rachel Bauer (Aspen, Colo./Bansee-Poison) 140
3. Jacqueline Harmony (Tucson, Ariz./Vixen-Loeka) 130
4. Jennifer Wolf (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) 104
5. Addie Stewart (Roy, Utah/Go Ride-Hayes) 100