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MTB News and Notes: Hall of Fame; KOM and Olympic Whistler

I know this isn’t a big secret, but if you like riding mountain bikes but have never done so in Crested Butte you really are missing out. I say this after spending three days down there this past weekend, when I had a chance to sample some of the trails and check out the new home of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. The MTB Hall had been homeless for the past two years, but thanks to an influx of cash and the generosity of the people who run the local Heritage Museum, it has moved into the back of the remodeled Tony’s Conoco (also home of the Heritage Museum). And while a spot in the back of

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor

Hall inductees pose in front of Tony's.

Hall inductees pose in front of Tony’s.

Photo: Gnurps

I know this isn’t a big secret, but if you like riding mountain bikes but have never done so in Crested Butte you really are missing out. I say this after spending three days down there this past weekend, when I had a chance to sample some of the trails and check out the new home of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

The MTB Hall had been homeless for the past two years, but thanks to an influx of cash and the generosity of the people who run the local Heritage Museum, it has moved into the back of the remodeled Tony’s Conoco (also home of the Heritage Museum). And while a spot in the back of an old gas station may not sound like much, as anyone who’s ever strolled down Elk Avenue can tell you, Tony’s Conoco was never just any old gas station. For years and years (including the four I spent there as a grade schooler in the early 1980s), Tony’s Conoco was a Crested Butte institution.

For me it was a place to take the spare change I dug out from the couch, and leave with a handful of Lemon Heads or Jaw Breakers. For the adults of Crested Butte it was a place to get some gas, hardware supplies, army-navy-type goods, or just a piece of advice from sage old man who’d seen his share of rodeos.

Today Tony’s has been given a mild make-over, but the building still has the feel of days gone by, with its creaky old, dark wooden floor and lots of the old merchandise (it’s for display only now) that was for sale when Tony was still around.

In the back room you’ll find lots of interesting artifacts from Crested Butte’s history, starting with the old mining days, moving through the opening of the ski area, and coming full circle to the advent of the mountain biking era. For lovers of fat-tire lore, the MTB Hall is a true treasure trove, with everything from Charlie Cunningham’s first mountain bike, to a video of the 1977 Repack Downhill and Campy’s one and only Euclid mountain bike group. And of course there’s pictures and bios for all of the 82 individual and three group inductees.

Last weekend was the grand re-opening of the Hall, and that brought out some of mountain biking’s most famous luminaries. Notable attendees included Gary Fisher, Sara Ballantyne, Ned Overend, Susan DeMattei, Dave Wiens, Scot Nicol, Joe Breeze, Mike Kloser and Tom Mayer.

Wildflowers everywhere.

Wildflowers everywhere.

Photo: Gnurps

Festivities got rolling Friday morning when about 80 people congregated in front of Tony’s for a group ride that headed south out of town, then turned off Highway 135 towards the Deer Creek trailhead. If you do the full trip from town and back, Deer Creek is a 30-mile loop that serves up one of the nastiest climbs you’ll ever granny-gear your way up. The running joke was that they must have built the trail before the invention of switchbacks. I don’t know about that, but “The Wall” as people were calling that steepest climb, was enough to force Deadly Nedly — and everybody else — off their bikes and walking at least once.

Once you got over the top though, the payoff was perfect. Like the rest of Colorado, Crested Butte has actually gotten a decent amount of precipitation this year and that’s spawned one of the best wildflower blooms in years. Combine that with a perfect, cloudless day and sweet, ribbony singletrack that went on for miles, and well, there were a lot of smiling mountain bikers.

Don Cook at the grand re-opening.

Don Cook at the grand re-opening.

Photo: Gnurps

The group ride was followed in the evening by a ribbon-cutting ceremony back at the MTB Hall, where the whole town, and anyone who happened to be passing through, was invited in for hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and a first look at the new digs. The whole event was first-class all the way, and as anyone who was there knows, a big debt of gratitude goes out to Don Cook and his wife Kay Peterson-Cook, who are the co-directors of the Hall and made the event happen.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame check out their Web site at www.mtnbikehalloffame.com, and if you happen to be anywhere near Crested Butte this summer — or any other — get on your bike and go for a ride. It’s as good as it gets.

Quote of the week and KOM TV sked
Got a call from Henry Schneidman, the president of Eclipse Television, the company that put on the Jeep KOM mountain-bike event in Virginia last weekend. He seemed pleased with how the first of the three-race series came off, but when I asked him about the mild controversy surrounding the required covering up of sponsor logos he threw out this peach.

“We were disappointed we couldn’t work that out,” Schneidman said of an impasse with Hyundai, which declined to send any of its riders because of the car-sponsor-logo embargo that was in place. “But when it came down to it, we were throwing a black-tie party and if people didn’t want to wear black tie they couldn’t come.”

The downfall of the standoff was that it meant Eric Carter won’t be racing in the series, and that’s a shame considering right now he is clearly the best gated racer in the world, a fact that will be lost on most of the non-MTB savvy viewers who tune in to watch.

Schneidman also passed on the TV schedule for the Jeep MTB race. The earliest airdate for the first event right now is July 9 on the NBC affiliate in San Diego (the package was not sold nationally, but market by market, so depending on where you live it will air at different times and on different stations). Other prominent airdates include July 13 on ABC in the New York and Los Angeles markets, and July 19 on the CBS station in Chicago. If you don’t live in one of these big cities, check out www.jeepmtnbiking.com to find the airdate in your area.

Whistler keeps on sizzling
One of North America’s hottest mountain biking destinations got some huge news on Wednesday when the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2010 Winter Olympics had been awarded to the Vancouver-Whistler area. It’s the first time the games have landed in Canada since 1988 when Calgary played host to the Winter Olympics. The IOC picked Vancouver-Whistler over Pyeongchang, South Korea in a surprisingly close 56-53 vote.

Right now Whistler is making final preparations for a huge week of mountain bike racing that follow the World Cup event at Grouse Mountain. Racing at the famous resort town commences July 14 with the JoyRide Bikercross, continues the next day with the Air Downhill, and concludes over the weekend with the Canadian national mountain bike championships.

My editor is finally taking off the desk shackle, so look for reports and photos from all three events starting Friday, July 11.

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