Cyclists stay busy

While it could be considered that the Alta Alpina Cycling Club is heading into its "down" time of the year, the organization is still keeping busy this fall.

As club president Jennie Hamiter said "there's good stuff" happening at "all times of the year" when it comes to bicycling.

But she admitted after an extremely busy spring and summer, many riders take it a little easier during the fall.

"A lot of people quit riding in the fall," Hamiter said.

While the weather may seem more conducive in the fall, it actually becomes more of a hassle in many cases. Events can begin in hot conditions and end in much cooler conditions, so riders are constantly changing their clothing to deal with the elements.

But the mission of the club never ceases. "We're here to promote cycling in the Carson Valley, Carson City and Tahoe area," said Hamiter about the club, which has about 200 members.

The club holds recreational events and races throughout the year. And the club doesn't just hold events for road cyclists, the club includes events for mountain bike riders as well.

The biggest event that the club holds every summer for road cyclists is the Carson Valley Classic, which includes the Diamond Valley Road Race and the Minden Criterium. The road race is an 11-mile course in which riders can compete from four to seven laps for up to 77 miles. The criterium is held at Minden Park in which riders complete a series of laps over a short course.

The club also put on the Kingsbury Time Trial in which riders climb to the top of Kingsbury Grade, covering an eight-mile climb just under 3,000 feet. That event was held on Sunday.

The biggest event that the club puts on for mountain bike riders is the Pine Nut Cracker at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. The club also holds a six-week series of races for mountain bike riders between May and June.

In addition there's a message board at the club's Web site, www.altaalpina.com where members can post events they are holding. E-mails informing club members of these events are sent out as well.

As if the Death Ride which is put on every summer by the Alpine Chamber of Commerce isn't enough, Alta Alpina is planning to hold another challenging endurance event for cyclists next summer.

The Death Ride consists of five passes and riders who complete the course cover about 15,000 feet of climbing and more than 100 miles. It's planned for the Alta Alpina Challenge to cover a course anywhere between 50 and 200 miles with climbing anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 feet.

"We don't expect very many people to be doing that option," said Hamiter about riders completing 200 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing.

Included in the event is a course of 100 miles that's designed to be the most popular for riders to cover. Among the passes included in the course are Ebbetts Pass, Monitor Pass, Carson Pass, Kingsbury Grade and Hope Valley.

Hamiter said about 40 riders tested the course in June and there were eight riders who actually covered all 200 miles.

The high price of gas hasn't helped increase the club's membership, Hamiter said, but she has noticed an increase in cyclists in general.

"I don't know if we've had an uptick in membership," she said. "I notice that there's more cyclists on the road.

"The bike racks have been packed all summer. There's obviously more people using bikes as transportation. There's definitely more people getting interested."

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