It’s all downhill from here

If a Saturday morning spent listening to NPR quiz shows and trimming your toenails isn’t thrill enough, you might consider driving up to Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Mars Hill for the North Carolina State Championship Downhill Mountain Bike Race.

The one-day event starts with a morning warm-up from 8:30 to 9:44 a.m. tomorrow (Aug. 18). Racing begins at 10 a.m.  Competitors are expected to show up from across the Southeast to ply their skills on the Wolf Ridge course, which plummets 800 feet over a distance of slightly more than a mile. Course designer Ryan Taylor says racers will complete the course (assuming they complete it) in three or four minutes.

“It’s really a unique track,” says Taylor. “It has some wide-open sections and really loose, loamy dirt, which will give it a feel more like riders from, say, Utah are used to.”

Winners have the chance to go home with the title of State Champion, and $2,500 in cash and prizes are up for grabs.

In addition to the downhill event, dual slalom racing will be held Saturday afternoon. The day’s events will culminate (how else?) with a barbecue ribs dinner and awards ceremony.

Taylor says the event is spectator-friendly, with a rare full view of the course. “It’s really, really good spectating. From one vantage point, you can see all the way up the mountain to the starting line and then turn around 180 degrees to see the course zig-zagging toward the finish.”

Registration is available online and on-site; downhill entry fees are $50 and dual slalom entry fees are $35. Kids 11 and under race for free.

— Kent Priestley, staff writer

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