Year leg added to the race: 2015.
Where: From the west end of Harris Avenue, through Fairhaven on trails and to the north end of Chuckanut Mountain and back to the finish line at Fourth Street and Harris Avenue.
Course length: About 7.3 miles.
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Approximate time to complete: About 30 minutes for the top competitors and about an hour for everybody else.
Course description: After running out of Marine Park and safely crossing the railroad tracks, riders will mount their bikes and ride Fairhaven’s greenways trails and the Interurban Trail to Arroyo Park, where they will face a technical uphill section. Bikers continue climbing more technical single-track on the north side of Chuckanut Mountain before they carefully descend to Chuckanut Drive, which they will follow to Old Samish Highway. They will then retrace their ride up the Interurban and the Lower Padden Creek trail to Donovan Avenue, where they will make a final sprint to Fourth Street and to the finish line outside the Index Industries building near the entrance to Marine Park. Riders can give their bike to a volunteer who will park it in a bike coral and then re-enter Marine Park for a ceremonial ringing of the Ski to Sea bells.
Mountain bike chair: Andy Hatfield.
Pre-race meeting: Noon at the foot of Harris Avenue on the east side of the railroad tracks.
Timing chip: The mountain biker receives the timing chip from the kayaker, swipes the chip to record the finish time for the kayak leg, completes the mountain biking course and swipes the timing chip to complete their team’s time. The mountain biker must return the timing chip to a Ski to Sea volunteer at the finish line. Failure to return the chip will result in the team being charged to replace it.
Riders must obey all rules of the road during their leg. Watch for competitors and follow instructions from police and volunteers to maximize safety for everyone.
Suggested departure time: 11:30 a.m.
Best place to watch the leg: With the Lower Padden Creek and Interurban Trails already having riders going in both directions, it might be best to avoid those areas to reduce congestion. Just outside Marine Park will offer a good view of the final sprint to the finish and isn’t far from the finish-line festivities.
TIPS FOR THE RACE
• Only mountain bikes will be allowed on the new course, and helmets are mandatory at all times.
• Know the course. It will be marked and well-staffed with volunteers on race day, but some recon work is invaluable, according to Stu Giesecke, a sales lead at Fanatik Bike Company and a local racer. He suggests, if possible, walking the course on race day and watching others to see how they navigate certain portions of the course.
• Ride low on the bike, much like a road biker, when the course allows to help increase speed.
• Bikes should be cleaned, lubed and otherwise readied for the race. Bike inspections will be available on race day. Giesecke suggests carrying spare parts and tools, including a hand pump or CO2 inflator, tire tubes and patches, tire levers, a multi-tool, a chain-breaker, a chain quick-link, a spare shifter cable and a spoke wrench. He also said proper suspension tuning and tire pressure is paramount in mountain bike racing.
• Don’t take chances, Giesecke said, especially considering that it’s a relay race with your team depending on you. “Sending the riskier-but-faster line over that obstacle could save you precious seconds, but if you crash out it could ruin the race for everyone on your team,” Giesecke wrote in an email. “I always race to finish, and will usually favor the conservative line.”
• Even though this is Ski to Sea’s first true mountain biking course, try to stay relaxed and get enough sleep the night before. “Eliminate all expectation and try to have fun,” Giesecke wrote. “Worrying about what could happen helps nothing.”