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By Fred Dreier
The 2009 American Mountain Classic stage race has been canceled, although promoters hope to resurrect the event as soon as next year.
Organizer Tom Spiegel of Team Big Bear, said the five-day mountain bike stage race was scheduled for August 20-24 in Brian Head, Utah. Spiegel said the race suffered from low pre-registration numbers, a fact he suggested was due to the current economic climate.
The AMC debuted at Brian Head in August of 2008, and organizers hoped it would feed off the recent popularity of endurance stage races such as La Ruta de los Conquistadores and the Trans Rockies Challenge. The AMC was the first mass-participant, multi-day endurance mountain bike stage race to be held in the United States. Its four days of racing included 170 total miles and nearly 15,000 total feet of climbing in and around Cedar Breaks National Monument. Jeremiah Bishop and Pua Sawicki took the overall titles last year. It also paid out $20,000 in total prize cash.
In 2008 the race netted 150 participants, but according to Spiegel, only 37 participants had signed up for the 2009 event.
“That number wasn’t really going up, and I figured we’d better [cancel] the race now and let those people make other plans,” Spiegel said. “It was a tough decision. It’s the first race I’ve ever had to postpone in 20 years, and I certainly don’t want to see it die.”
Spiegel, who also organizes a handful of national-level and California regional events, said his break-even number for the AMC was at 100 racers. He blamed the bad economy for the lack of interest.
“Our numbers are up for the local races. People still want to race mountain bikes,” Spiegel said. “I just think people are less willing to spend money to travel to a big race like that.”
Registration for the AMC cost $350, however a costs such as housing, food and transportation to Brian Head could easily put a racer’s total bill near $1000.
Spiegel said he hopes to bring the event back for 2010