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Gear up for the Upshur Uprising: Mountain bike race series coming to Buckhannon in June

BUCKHANNON – This June, Upshur County Trails will host the seventh event in a nine-race series organized by the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association.

The race, called the Upshur County Uprising, is set for June 30 at Upshur County Trails, the warren of dirt tracks that loop around Buckhannon-Upshur High School and the Upshur County Recreation Park. The race will begin at noon, but members of the trail community and the organizers of the race will be at the site at 9 a.m.

A rider on the Upshur County Trails (Photo by Julia Kastner)

This is the first race of its kind at the volunteer-maintained local trail system, but J.J. Ford, the race director for the Upshur County Uprising, and Julia Kastner, an Upshur County Trails member, hope to make it an annual event.

“As someone who grew up racing mountain bikes, getting to have a set of trails to take care of and getting to put on a race is a new way for me to be part of the community in a new role that I’m trying to figure out and enjoy,” Ford said. “It also allows us to showcase our trail system and share what we have, because we are going to bring in people that wouldn’t normally be here. I can’t believe what our trails have turned into and how developed they’ve become.”

Kastner said they are excited to see people from other states travel to Upshur County to use the trail system.

“I think our trails group is really proud of what we’ve built,” she said. “We have a really great product, and we’re proud of it. We want to showcase it by having everybody come in like this, and we’re hoping to do a cool thing for the local community in terms of bringing in folks from all over the state — and out of state — and just showing off what a lovely crown jewel we have here.”

Riders on the Upshur County Trails (Photo by Joey Riddle)

The race has three categories: novice, which will be seven miles; Cat 2, which will be 12.5 miles; and Cat 1, which will be 17.8 miles. Each category will also have a prologue of about a mile and a half, followed by a main lap that racers will do one, two or three times.

“Each type of trail in the series varies depending on where you are,” Ford said of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association. “They just finished up a race at Coopers Rock; it’s super rocky up there and the soil is a little different, probably a little less sandy, maybe a few more roots than here. We don’t have the long climbs. The race in Kanawha State Forest has some climbs that are nearing a mile long, and our trails are shorter and have more punchy climbs.”

Kastner said most of the trail is hand-built and riders may need to communicate because of the close quarters.

“Approximately 90 percent of this course is hand-built singletrack, so passing will be a part of the race; please be prepared to talk to fellow racers and execute safe passes,” Kastner said. “There are some rocks, roots, rollers, table tops and small jumps, but all challenging features have a ride-around line which is marked in blue, as opposed to the orange technical features. A few trails will not be included in this racecourse, so we hope they’ll come back to check out these trails in their entirety.”

Ford recommended participants have their bikes checked out and visit the trails before the race.

“I would recommend going out on a pre-ride,” he said. “I would also say if you haven’t been riding much to get your bike checked out; it is mandatory that you have working front and rear brakes on your bike, and you have to wear a helmet. I wouldn’t just decide the day of to join the race. It’s coming up but you have some time, so you can go check out the course and then make sure your bike is in good shape. There’s no reason somebody who’s never raced before couldn’t get into it; we all start somewhere.”

Kastner said the Upshur County Trails group gathers every Wednesday to ride the trails, which may be a good chance to get a detailed look at the area.

“Our group rides every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in almost all weather,” she said. “We’ll be choosing a Wednesday to post as another guided pre-ride opportunity, but any Wednesday would be a fine time to visit/ If these dates don’t work for you, reach out to jjford304@gmail.com or juliabethkastner@gmail.com and we’ll get you set up with somebody to show you around.”

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