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Weaverville to Host the World Solo 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championships

08/21/2015 08:40AM ● By Kerri Regan

So Spoked

September 2015
By Kerri Regan

During the Gold Rush, hydraulic miners at the La Grange Mine near Weaverville used high-pressure water to blast away soil and reach the gold ore below.

That water flowed down the mountain through ditches and flumes, and in October, mountain bikers from around the world will reap the rewards of the trails that process left behind.

The 2015 WEMBO World Solo 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championships will be held Oct. 3-4 on the Weaver Basin Trail System above Weaverville—the first place in the United States to ever host the race. Racers will go around the 12-mile track as many times as they can in 24 hours.

“It’s a very challenging climb in the beginning, then it’s just amazing, fun, very flowy single track,” says Michael Novak, a Weaverville cyclist, physican assistant and member of the steering committee that’s planning the race. “I think it’s just gonna blow people’s minds.”

Organizers are expecting 200 to 400 riders, including worldrenowned single-speed mountain biker Brett Bellchambers of Australia and endurance pro Tinker Juarez. But the North State will also be represented, including Novak, who placed fourth in his age group during the 24-hour race in Scotland last year.

“WEMBO is like the US Open, so no qualifying is required,” says Jeff Morris of the steering committee. “If somebody locally thinks they can compete or just want to ride with the elite riders for 24 hours, it’s open for them.”

Why Weaverville for an international bike race? Steering committee member Yvette Crockell of Sacramento raced in the event when it was in Australia, and organizers asked where she would recommend holding a U.S. race. “She recommended Weaverville,” Morris says. “She recognized that the region has some of the best single track in the western United States.”

Organizers have brainstormed ways to lure a strong contingent of international riders. One answer: “We have set up host families for riders who are more than 1,500 miles away to try to make it more affordable,” Novak says. “That gives you a place you can ship your bike rather than take it on a plane, someone to pick you up at the airport, a place to stay so you aren’t paying out of pocket. They have someone who’s cheering for them. The reception from the foreign riders has been really positive.”

Of course, organizers also hope international visitors fall in love with this quaint mountain town, whose Main Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It doesn’t have a single stop light, but includes art galleries, coffee houses and a performing arts center. The nearby Trinity River offers world-class rafting and kayaking.

The Trinity County Chamber of Commerce and Trinity County Resource Conservation District are working with the business community and the public to prepare, and the chamber website has been revamped to highlight local tourism.

“It's a neat opportunity for our town. We’re really pumping Trinity County and the beauty around this area," says Novak, who enjoys riding with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, with his 14-monthold baby on the front of his bike. “They are going to go ride in Whiskeytown and ride the Swasey area and ride on the coast. This whole North State is just an amazing, beautiful place with a plethora of trails. This is putting the whole North State on the international map.”

A week before the big race (at 9 am Sept. 26), organizers will host 8 Hours of Weaverville and 4 Hours of Weaverville, where cyclists can try the trail without committing to the 24-hour race. “We’re expecting a number of the international riders to participate in that race as a warm-up so they can get familiar with the course,” says Morris, a former county supervisor whose family moved to Trinity County in the 1850s.

Novak, who has done a handful of 24-hour races, says completing this event is a feat like few others. “You have to go through some really serious challenges,” he says. “They say you come face to face with your soul. You really have to cross that barrier where your mind or your body or your stomach just doesn’t want to go on. You have to figure out how to get past it and get motivated and get going again. I have a picture of my family on my bike, and I'm like, ‘Man, I’ve taken so much time to train for this—I can't let them down.’”

The rides are addictive, Novak says. “Some of the top riders in Scotland said that was going to be their last race, but they’re all scheduled to come here,” he says. “We’re going to have the top riders in the whole world in Weaverville. I hope everybody’s able to come and check these amazing athletes out.”

And organizers hope guests will soak up all the beauty and hospitality the area has to offer.

“The next Steve Jobs could be a mountain biker and want to relocate here. It would be wonderful to have those kinds of outcomes,” Morris says. “But the main thing we’re focusing on is a world-class race at a world-class course, and we will have the community ready to welcome the riders with open arms.”