Federal-government shutdown affects collegiate MTB race

The cross country and downhill were slated to be held on Bureau of Land Management property, and a legal challenge to run the races failed

The shutdown of the federal government has forced organizers of the Maverick Mountain Bike Championship to pull the plug on two of its three races this weekend.

The event, hosted by Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, also serves as the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference Mountain Bike Championships.

The short track will be run Saturday on the university campus. But Saturday’s downhill and Sunday’s cross country had been scheduled to take place in the Bangs Canyon area, on Bureau of Land Management property. The university took the matter to federal court Friday, arguing that the special permits issued should be honored, but judge Marcia Krieger disagreed.

“It’s unfortunate that an event that causes no federal employees to do anything has to suffer,” Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster told The Denver Post. “It just adds to everyone’s frustrations over the situation.

“It’s really too bad. It’s an event we run, we staff it, the BLM doesn’t have to do anything.”

The Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference said affected riders would be granted nationals-qualifications waivers.

According to the Grand Junction Sentinel, the BLM told university officials on Tuesday that they couldn’t conduct the two races scheduled on BLM-administered lands.

The U.S. Department of Justice elaborated, saying the permit depended on conditions that the BLM couldn’t meet, and thus the races had to be canceled.

“So we went to federal court,” Foster told the Sentinel.

Krieger found that while the BLM did not have the responsibility to monitor the race under the special-use permit, it did have the right to do so, said Mike Feeley, the attorney who represented the university in Denver.

The BLM’s decision to cancel the race because it could not exercise that right was not an abuse of discretion, Feeley said.