WOW. What a beautiful Memorial Day weekend we had up here! Sunny and seventies and plenty of great things going on.
The event Sam and I chose to attend this weekend was the Conquer the Village mountain bike race at the GT Commons. Hundreds of bikers of all ages (young kids included) and ability levels came out to race on the trails at the OldState Hospital Grounds. I’m totally foreign to the world of mountain biking, as I’m more of a road cyclist / hardcore commuter, but I tell you what…these people are MACHINES.
For one, mountain bike races are awesome events. There’s always a lot of music, beer, and beautiful bikes of all varieties. This race was no exception! Fresh brats and hot dogs were grilling, music was pumping, Bells beer was on tap, and the bikes were nothing short of gorgeous. I was in bike heaven, even though I’m somewhat terrified to attempt mountain biking…especially this course.
The trails cover some rolling hills (and some realllly big hills) all throughout the Commons area, and these bikers tackled them with amazing agility, power, and control. Dirt, gravel, mud, little wooden bridges—like the one they’ve affectionately dubbed “handlebar bridge,” because if a rider’s handlebars are too big they’ll catch on the railing—and plenty of sharp turns made for a fast-paced race.
We hiked up to watch the riders along the trail, and with such a gorgeous day we stuck around for the entire expert/pro race. One of our favorite places was along the handlebar bridge: I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch incredible bikers traverse over an obstacle like that? The views from the top of the mountain are always one of my favorite things about the Commons trails, but I have a whole new appreciation for people who choose to bike up those hills five to six times in a row.
Conquer the Village put on its second annual race this year. If you need motivation to check it out next year, all the proceeds from the race go to helping out our beautiful Hickory Hills. The ski facility is a public park, but it’s hit some tough economic times and is still searching for sustainable revenue sources so they can stay open year-round and provide a great ski experience for people of all ages during the winter (plus hiking trails and disc golfing in the non-snow months). I’m all for supporting anything that helps out Hickory Hills (which is where I used to ski race as a kid), but I’m not sure if I’ll be getting on a bike next year to race…