Not only does the town of Leadville have great success in their summer race series with ultra endurance athletes attending from around the globe, they are also home to The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series – the longest running and most well attended winter bike race series in Colorado. We had the honor of interviewing the race director of this popular race series, Sterling Mudge. Read on to learn about the history and the future of The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series.
How many years has The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series been going on?
The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series started in the mid 90’s by a fellow named Dave Bagley who used to own a bike shop in Leadville named Top of the World Cyclery, he now lives in Moab. After Dave moved from Leadville, Derek Lenahan, who used to own Bicycle Haven ran the series. Once Derek moved from Leadville the Cloud City Wheelers took the reigns and have been running it since 2007.
Did it start as a series or just a couple of races?
As far as I know it started with a couple races at Copper and at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center.
How many people attended the first races? How many now?
From the pictures I’ve seen, around 20 something, now we have anywhere from 60-125 people per race and I expect that to keep growing as the popularity and availability of fat bikes keeps increasing.
What bikes were people using in the first years?
Regular mountain bikes, the lucky people had the early version of Snowcat Rims, and some people still ride on those rims.
Do you require 3.7” tires and certain tire pressure in order to race?
Only helmets are required at our races. We had a cyclocross bike at Copper two years ago and he did very well…running with the bike a lot of the way (conditions sucked that year).
How has the series changed with the progression in the fat bike industry, if any?
We are starting to change our courses a little bit, now that the bikes can ride stuff we couldn’t a couple years ago. The Tennessee Pass Night Jam will have some singletrack on it this year, as will the East Side Epic.
What are your plans for the future years? Not broken don’t change it?
If it keeps growing we will have to start timing differently since our volunteers will be strained. We might add a race or two, maybe a mass start down hill at Ski Cooper, too. We don’t want to change much, people seem to like what we do. We will build more trail each summer and hopefully add that to our courses.
Is there much economic drive? Are people coming all around the country/state?
You’d be surprised at how many people spend the night before or after the races. We do have people coming from Utah and Wyoming and all over the state of Colorado. We want people to experience Leadville and it’s surroundings and make them want to come back, not just for the race series.
What do you do Sterling? This must take a lot of time to organize.
I am the Distribution Manager for Parkville Water District in Leadville, I ride my bike to work year round, and work outside all the time. I also have two small kids and a beautiful wife. Organizing the series is something that I volunteer to do along with all the trail building efforts in and around Leadville. You got to do what you love and luckily my family supports my passion for mountain biking whether its on snow or beautiful dirt.
The first race of The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series is this Saturday at Copper Mountain. Saturday’s race is a night race with fireworks and more. Registration starts at 4 pm at the Jacks! Race starts at 6pm. See you there!
The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series 2014 Schedule
Jan. 18th – Copper Winter Bike
Feb. 8th – Tennessee Pass Night Jam
March 1st – Mineral Belt Mayhem
April 12th – East Side Epic