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The Weekly Dirt: Fun at the Denver airport, the Humboldt Hopper, and Ombraz’ millionth mangrove

A weekly roundup of what's happening in the off-road.

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I know I’m not alone when I say that I RODE IN SHORTS AND SHORT SLEEVES YESTERDAY.

Spring seems to have finally sprung, even thought the mountains are still heavily frosted (it’s so pretty!). Although it happens every year, I’m always awed by the transition from winter to spring. Tiny buds on trees, more birds cheeping in the morning, and the sensation that everything around is busy at work, unfurling and sending up shoots.

The timing is great ride-wise because I have a huge week of riding on tap next week: first off is the Lake Sonoma Grasshopper Adventure Series MTB race, then it’s a three-day adventure ride from Sonoma County to Sea Otter, then it’s the gravel race at Sea Otter. Let’s hope my ski fitness powers me through.

Also — from here out, The Weekly Dirt will run biweekly, alternating with my series of longform interviews over at CyclingTips. Hope you follow along!

Walk, don’t run, next time you’re at DIA

As a frequent flyer, my relationship with the Denver International Airport is … complicated. But, thanks to a new exhibit at DIA, I’m even more excited for my next trip.

The High Altitude Adventures exhibit is a brand new installation at DIA celebrating endurance sports and events in the state of Colorado. The exhibit features 17 iconic events from burro riding to bike races. Now, travelers passing through the airport (which is the third busiest in the US apparently) can learn about many of Colorado’s iconic cycling events.

Gravel at DIA! (Photo: Denver International Airport)

The exhibit features gravel events FoCo Fondo and SBT GRVL, the Leadville Race Series, and iconic road events Tour of the Moon, Triple Bypass, Copper Triangle, and Tour de Vineyards. Each event has its own display in the exhibit and judging from what I’ve seen on social media, these event organizers are also incredible curators!

High Altitude Adventures is located in Ansbacher Hall on the A-Bridge, pre-security and will be on display until Sept 24, 2023.

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic MTB race goes old-school

This year’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic mountain bike race will harken back to Durango’s illustrious fat tire past, using similar trails as the 2001 UCI World Cup course. The 5-mile lap will start and end at Chapman Hill and loop around the prominent mesa just east of downtown for a total of more than 500 feet of climbing per lap.

Durango’s cycling and mountain bike legacy is closely linked with to the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which debuted in 1972. Then, after the inaugural UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 1990, the city became even more bike-centric, hosting a World Cup in 2001 and multiple NORBA races.

The IHBC cross-country race is iconic (Photo: IHBC)

“This year’s mountain bike course has been ridden and raced many times by the sport’s biggest stars,” said IHBC race director Ian Burnett. “The Iron Horse cross country race has been a mainstay in the Durango cycling calendar for years so we wanted to nod back to our history while creating a course that challenges the current crop of pro riders.”

The weekend-long festival also includes the classic Durango-Silverton road race and tour, where riders “race the train” over two mountain passes, as well as a gravel race with two distances of 59 and 98 miles.

Chas Christiansen completes Humboldt Hopper Everest Challenge

He’s not calling it an FKT, but for now, Chas Christiansen has the only known time on the Humboldt Hopper Everest route in northern California.

The 242-mile route with over 29,000 feet of climbing is the brainchild of  Miguel Crawford, route-maker extraordinaire and founder of the Grasshopper Adventure Series. This isn’t the first time Crawford has put together an epic route and dared people to go ride it — in 2021, Crawford linked up seven of the Grasshopper Adventure Series courses, called it the #megahopper, and Ted King had a go at it.

Christiansen, an adventurer and artist from northern California, did the route last weekend after ” feeling the itch for a long solo rip.” He completed the Everest vert (not an Everest as defined here) in just over 32 hours. There is no resupply along the route, but abundant rain and snowfall this year made for plenty of water everywhere.

Ombraz Sunglasses to plant millionth tree

Ombraz Sunglasses, the armless sunglass brand beloved by adventure cyclists Lael Wilcox and Sarah Swallow, has passed a major milestone in its mission to deliver a net positive impact for the planet. Since launching on Kickstarter in 2018, Ombraz promised to plant 20 mangrove trees per pair of Ombraz sold. This Earth Day, Ombraz, along with their tree planting partner,Eden Reforestation Projects, will plant their one-millionth tree. 

“Since starting, we’ve had no interest in creating something that we didn’t feel had a substantial net-benefit environmental impact through our business operations,” said Jensen Brehm, Ombraz co-founder.

Mangrove forests are effective at carbon sequestration and storage and mitigate climate change.

Over the course of one year, one million mangrove trees has the potential to sequester 27 million pounds of carbon from the atmosphere, the equivalent of 22,000 coast-to-coast flights.

Through a third-party analysis from Greenticket, Ombraz found that through their tree planting efforts, they sequester 1900x more carbon from the atmosphere than is required to produce and deliver a pair of Ombraz to the customer’s door, making a pair of Ombraz “the most carbon negative product in the world,” said the brand.

US Pro Cup Fayetteville ‘race within a race’

This weekend’s US Pro Cup in Fayetteville, Arkansas will see some already-fast racers with a little more pep in their pedal.

UCI racers will have a chance to ride for $500 in the Athlos UCI KOM/QOM challenge over two days of racing. Riders with the best cumulative time over four timed segments will earn the crowns – and cash.

According to US Pro Cup race director Ty Kady, each timed segment is unique and will add up to make a ‘race within the race’ that will be exciting for racers and spectators alike.

“The four timed segments will be the Experience Fayetteville Power climb for those with pure watts on Wednesday’s XCO race,” Kady said. “The Dell dual slalom on Friday’s STXC event will favor riders with a BMX background, and the challenge finishes with two sectors for Saturday’s UCI HC XCO event. The DH sector, which includes Arvest Mountain, Orange Seal speed and style, and Deloitte drop, will test a rider’s ability through multiple features and reward those who want to let go of the brakes. The Experience Fayetteville power climb returns one more time on Saturday to round out the fourth segment in the challenge.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.