DOVER -- The Eastern States Cup is back at Mount Snow.
That means tight turns and rocky steeps for downhill mountain bike riders who enjoy racing.
"One of the cool things about this series is there's categories for every age and ability, not just pros that go down super quick," said Mount Snow Communications Director Dave Meeker. "It's also for kids that are just starting out, cutting teeth on a downhill course."
Approximately 150 riders are expected to turn up for the races.
Registration will begin at the Clocktower at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Racers can register until noon on Saturday and from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Practice runs on Saturday can be taken from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sunday, practice runs can be taken from 9 to 10:45 a.m. The race will start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Spectators can watch along the course.
Prizes will be given out to the top three competitors in each of the four categories. A cash prize is available for those participating in the pro division.
The new course was designed to replicate races of years past. In mid-2000, the mountain hosted a Norba race event that received a lot of great reviews, Mount Snow Bike Park Manager J Knox told the Reformer.
"People loved the open ski slope and natural element of it. They talk about it to this day," he said. "We've been putting out downhill courses since the mid-90s. We've seen a rollercoaster of riders come and they continue to come back here because it seems they like the traditional downhill terrain we have.
Local rider Chris Frink recalled earlier days. For about 10 years, he has rode Mount Snow and other places offering downhill bike trails.
"I remember going up and watching guys come down part of the track back when Norba was here," he said. "This track is really fast and with the rain that's coming in, it's definitely going to push the limits of a lot of riders."
Frink will be competing in Cat 2 division for 19- to 29-year-olds on Sunday. He won last year's race in the same division and told the Reformer he was excited about this year's course.
For the race, riders will begin at the Ego Alley lift shack and navigate some upper portions of the mountain not usually open for downhill mountain bike riding.
Since parts of the course are on National Forest land, representatives walked it while it was being developed to ensure the race would not disturb any animals or important vegetation. Making the course required no construction. Flags were put out to mark the way.
Meeker said the bulk of the mountain's daily downhill terrain is not on National Forest land.
"We're very careful with how it's built," he added. "We're lucky to have a good relationship with National Forest."
This will be the fifth summer that Mount Snow has hosted an Eastern States Cup event. Organizers expect it will take three to four hours for the race.
Starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday night, dinner and drinks will be served at Cuzzins Bar and Grill, located at the base of the mountain. Bike movies will be played on screens and there will be a raffle.
A new pump track is also available for new riders or experienced bikers. It took two and a half days to make the track, which is located in the base area near Mount Snow Sports and the Grand Summit Resort Hotel.
J Knox said the pump track allows beginners to learn how to pump transitions and navigate turns before going up on the chairlift.
"We've seen a ton of traffic on it out there. Even our in-house kids camp uses it. They've been having a lot of fun on it," he added. "It's a work-out. Three laps and I'm winded."
The pump track naturally prepares beginners for the introductory downhill trail known as Trail 7, touted as the largest introductory trail in the East.
"Downhill mountain biking is no longer only for the hardcore, burly riders," said J Knox.
Also new this year are chairlift rides to the summit via the Bluebird Express, the six passenger bubble lift. Once on top of the mountain, the Bullwheel is open for lunch or an early dinner.
Offering scenic rides to the summit was the result of seeing an increase in summer-time guests and the success of the restaurant in the winter when it was first opened.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.