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Mountain Biking at the Huntsman World Senior Games

The Huntsman World Senior Games are open to athletes over age 50. Held in St. George, usually in early to mid-October, the games feature competition in a variety of sports, including tennis, basketball, golf, marathon, triathlon, road biking, and (our favorite!) mountain biking. You don't need to qualify for the games -- just come and have fun.

At the Mountain Bike Festival at the Senior Games, bikers get together for a fun ride with family members, off-duty road bikers, and seniors who want to ride but not compete. Photo October 12, 2002, near Clavicle Hill on the Bearclaw Poppy Trail.

Events: Hillclimb, Downhill, Cross Country
Age divisions: Five year intervals (example 55-59)
Classes: Beginner, Sport, Expert

Winners are 1st through 6th place in each category. For example, age 50-54 men's Expert, 50-54 men's Sport, 50-54 men's Beginner, 50-54 women's Expert, etc.

There's also an "overall champion" for each category based on points earned in the three individual events.

That's Randy heading away from us. Randy's from SLC and has a few gold medals and an overall championship to his credit.

You'll find a mix of fun folks at the games. Yes, there are some ruthless competitors who are amazingly fast and strong, but most are just in-shape over-50 guys and gals who are there to have a good time and see how they measure up.

The 50-54 age group jumps out from the starting line at the Cross Country Event. October 15, 2002.

The Hillclimb and Downhill events are held on the same day. These are "time trials." Riders start individually, about 2 minutes apart, and ride as fast as they can. (Yes, you can use a different bike for the Hillclimb and the Downhill, but you need to arrange to have somebody deliver your DH bike to the top of the hill.) 

In the Cross Country event, riders are started by age group. There will be some race strategy and jockeying for position.

The Cross Country event usually follows some variation of the Intermountain Cup Race Course. Expert distance is 20 miles. It's a fun trail with a bit of technical stuff in a couple of rock-bottom washes. Riders are started in larger groups, a minute or two apart, bunched by age. Despite the large number of riders, there's a good chance of "placing," because there are Beginner, Sport, and Expert categories in each of the 5-year age groups.

Rock and Roll! What a pleasure to race on gnarly track without any hot-headed young punks -- except for the young punks that are cheering you on!

The Senior Games are non-profit. Events are manned by volunteers who donate their time. Your fee pays for "hard expenses" like professional race officials. At every event, riders are treated to gratis Gatorade and an assortment of "carb loading" snacks.

Crossing the finish line. And if your skin isn't intact, it means you get a special "purple heart" medal.

To enter the Senior Games, you need to register in advance. This can be done on-line at the games' web site: http://www.hwsg.com. Registration deadline is about two months before the games. There's a fee to enter the games as a whole, plus $10 per event entered.

You also need a valid NORBA racing license for the competition. If you don't have a yearly license, you can buy a temporary license at the games for $5 per day. (You buy this license at the same place you check in for the games.)

You get a Senior Games golf-shirt, various freebies, food and drink at the events, registration and racing license for all three MTB events, a nice meal at the awards ceremony, and a great time.

Athletes and their families hit the buffet before the awards ceremony.

So if you're over 50 and ride a bike, I'd suggest you make the Huntsman World Senior Games part of your October plans. Meet riders from around the country and around the world. Pick up a medal to show the grandkids.

Red Rock Bicycle in St. George provides support for the games. They can answer your questions, or even provide you with a full set of wheels for the race.

Cue the music, as the winners are honored. Randy, a rider from Salt Lake on the left in this photo, has won the silver.