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Catawba Race Weekend Page 1
Regional Mountain Bike Racers Celebrate the Swan Song of Catawba Riverfront Park

In what may be the last time the current configuration of the cross-country mountain bike course is raced, regional mountain bikers descended on Catawba Riverfront Park for the Cane Creek Cup finals on October 2 and 3, 2004. The 10 race series, held at various locations across North and South Carolina, culminated for the first time on the trail located off of I-85 and Sam Wilson Road. The race is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Tarheel Trailblazers, the local, fully volunteer, trail building workforce in Charlotte.

Saturday dawned with a misty fog, as racers prepared for an exhilarating Downhill course, high flying Duo Slalom, or a grinding, short course, cross-country. The races differ in style and technical skill to the liking and equipment of the participants.

Male and female downhill racers donned body armor and full face helmets for the total of two timed runs against the clock. On specially prepared full suspension bicycles, with an average of 6 inches of front and rear travel, the 35 – 40 pound beasts are made for one thing: going down hill, and doing it as quickly as possible. The 1/2 mile long course descends through a wooded region of the park, with riders dodging trees, flying over huge drops, landing tabletops, and plowing hell bent through rock gardens. The one minute, 25 second ride is a heart stopping rush of acceleration and momentum as the rider negotiates the course.

Duo Slalom racing pits two riders, head to head, on a specially designed downhill course. The 25 – 30 second races are the adrenalin junkies high. A offshoot of the old dual slalom ski races, the competition offers a little of everything: the smooth flow and big air of the riders as they careen elbow to elbow on a course that features high banked turns and double jumps (and a fair share of the preverbal crash and burn).

A new, up and coming race, short course cross-country, was offered at Catawba for the first time in a Cane Creek Series event. The 0.8 mile course was run on fire roads, with just a touch of tight twisting singletrack thrown in, just to keep the riders honest. The races were run for a specified period of time (25, 45, or 60 minutes, by class), plus a bell lap.

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