Part of the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships will be held Saturday, July 5, on Bald Mountain.
The bike festival started Thursday with the Sheeptown Drag races, and continues through the weekend with expos, demos and races, culminating with the Sun Valley Super Enduro on Bald Mountain.
Racing will rev up again the following Saturday when an expected 350 racers arrive at Baldy’s River Run base area for the Marathon National Championships. This will be the second consecutive year that the event has been held at Sun Valley.
Amateur classes, divided by age, will begin at 8 a.m. Pro and elite amateurs will start at 1 p.m.
The two-lap, 45-mile course climbs and circumnavigates Bald Mountain. For the afternoon group, this year’s course will contain an extra five-mile section, up the Bald Mountain Trail beginning from a point midway up the Frenchman’s lift to the summit, then across the ridge above the Bowls to reconnect with the Warm Springs Trail.
Micah Rice, USA Cycling’s vice president of national events, said the pros rode last year’s course in under three hours, a bit faster than had been expected. He said the faster racers should take about three and a half hours to complete this year’s course.
In general, Rice said, racers and organizers were “really happy” with last year’s event.
“We love coming to Sun Valley,” he said. “It’s a great destination for mountain biking.”
Rice said Sun Valley has not bid on another national event, and the 2015 and 2016 Marathon National Championships will be held near Augusta, Ga.
To read a complete schedule of events for the festival, go to www.ridesunvalley.com/festival-schedule.