Although Salida Bike Fest will be trimmed down this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, bikers still have the opportunity to race, ride the Monarch Crest and parade around town on decorated bikes.
“We’re a little cautious, but we’re excited people will actually be able to do something social and compete,” Ryan Wiegman, Salida Rec’s recreation coordinator said.
While most of the normal festivities have been called off, the bike festival will still feature the Banana Belt mountain bike race, the Monarch Crest Crank and a bike decorating event followed by a bike parade around downtown, Sept. 19-20.
The Banana Belt mountain bike race will also take place on a new course this year because part of the Rainbow Trail was damaged by flash flooding earlier this summer. The race typically starts in town, then riders pedal out to CR 101 Bear Creek Road, climb up to Rainbow and descend Rainbow and Race Track back to town.
However, this year’s race will be held on a different Salida classic – the Cottonwood Belt.
The riders will basically pedal six miles up CR 173 Ute Trail to reach Beasway and then race down singletrack trails including Beasway, Rumba, Cottonwood and Chicken Dinner before the final sprint to the finish.
“The route was kind of the only comparable one in town,” Wiegman said. “People are pretty excited about it. It has about the same amount of climbing and about the same amount of descending, but it’s definitely a little more technical with the Waterfall section.”
The Cottonwood Belt is 20.21 miles long with 2,613 feet of elevation gain.
The race will also use a time trial format with bikers starting every minute.
While the first person to finish might not be the winner, competitors will at least have other bikers to pace with. During FIBArk, Salida Rec held virtual races that people could ride whenever they had a chance. Not a lot of people participated.
“The virtual ones didn’t get a whole lot of traction,” Wiegman said, adding that people enjoyed the Tenderfoot Hill Climb which used a similar format to what the Banana Belt will use.
To also help keep the Banana Belt race socially distanced, there won’t be an awards ceremony afterwards.
People can register for the race at bikereg.com/banana-belt-mountain-bike-race until midnight on Sept. 18. There won’t be any race day registrations this year. Competitors who register by Friday will also get a free shirt.
The Monarch Crest Crank will also be back Sept. 20 with some extra precautions in place for people who want to ride the International Mountain Bike Association’s epic route.
The shuttles will be at 50 percent capacity and staggered in 15-minute increments to spread people out this year. Bicyclists also need to wear masks while on the shuttle, but can take them off for the ride.
“It’s an outdoor event so people can spread out,” said the event’s coordinator, Becki Rupp. “Once you’re out there, it’s pretty much like every day on the Crest.”
The crank, which is a benefit for The Alliance, is limited to 100 participants.
People can register online at monarchcrestcrank.com/. There won’t be day-of registrations for the crank either.
“We still have spots,” Rupp said. “They’re going fast though.”
The crank also eliminated the after-ride party this year. Instead, Rupp said they partnered with five local restaurants that will be offering free or discounted lunch options to the participants.
Bike decorating and a bike parade will also take place at the Salida Bike Fest this year.
To encourage social distancing, however, the participants will receive their own individual box of decorating supplies that they can then take, spread out from others and get to work decorating.
The free event is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 a.m. Sept. 19 at Alpine Park. The parade will then begin a 11:30 a.m., following a police escort downtown before returning to Alpine Park.