Tuesday race series begins at Boulder's Valmont Bike Park (Daily Camera)

Dual slalom races a way to 'reach out to the community'

Around here, there aren't many places for mountain bikers to race dual slalom -- a head-to-head form of racing in which two cyclists rip down winding side-by-side dirt tracks.

"In terms of gravity racing, downhill, dual slalom, there's not much on the Front Range," said Joey Schusler, a pro mountain biker and member of the University of Colorado Cycling Team who won the national collegiate downhill and dual slalom races in the fall.

So it's nice that a dual slalom series will start up at the Valmont Bike Park on Tuesday, Schusler said.

For the next four Tuesdays, the city and Boulder Mountainbike Alliance will host a new series of evening races on the park's dual slalom course, a pair of tracks that wind down from the hill in the center of the park.

"It reminds me of the short-track races they have on Wednesdays in the summer -- it's not a big race, but it's a fun way to get the whole community together in the summer," Schusler said, referring to the CU Short Track series at the Research Park.

"We wanted to do this as an effort to reach out to the community," said Botsy Phillips, who helped organize the races. "We're keeping the entry fees really low for this -- it's $10 for Boulder Mountainbike Alliance members or Valmont volunteers, and $15 for any other racer."

Phillips said he hopes some of the participants in the race series will sign up to volunteer at the bike park in the future.

"The goal is to really fill the ranks of volunteers out there so we can take some of the burden of the cost of maintaining the park off the city," Phillips said. But it's also a great time to host a series like this, since most of this type of racing is found up at the ski resorts, which are not yet open for mountain biking.

Schusler said there's also a convenience factor in having local races.

"It's a big commitment to be a racer because you have to travel so much, so to have a local series is really nice," he said. "It'll help get a lot of kids into racing who don't have the financial backing to get around to other races, further away."

Helmets are required, Phillips said, and knee and elbow pads are recommended. Most of the racers will probably have tried dual slalom before.

"I'd say it's on par with everything in that park," he said. "You should not expect to go out there as a beginner and fire down this thing."

All racers must sign a liability waver, he added, and racers younger than 18 can print a waiver at bouldermountainbike.org and have their parents sign it before the races. Racing starts at 5:30 p.m.

"My guess is we're going to hit the cap of racers ... because this is a pilot program, we're keeping it small to start," Phillips said. "Basically it's 70 riders, and there's no signing up ahead of time. You just have to come out."

By Jenn Fields fields@coloradodaily.com

Posted:   04/30/2012 08:54:01 PM MDTUpdated:   04/30/2012 08:58:15 PM MDT