Cycling: Carson Valley Classic coming up next week

The Carson Valley Classic is on schedule to happen July 25 and 26.

The annual event is comprised of the Diamond Valley Road Race on July 25 and the Minden Criterium on July 26.

The Diamond Valley Road Race starts at Diamond Valley School in Alpine County and goes from Highway 89 to Highway 88, then on to one of my favorite roads to ride in the world: Carson River Road.

The course makes a right onto Diamond Valley Road back to the school.

Carson River Road is one of my favorites since it has nice turns and climbs (or descends) gently.  It seems to wholely represent the Eastern Sierra, with a small river, dry air, sagebrush mixed with alpine trees, cow pastures, tiny creeks, which makes for beautiful scenery.

This is a tough race since it serves as the Masters District Championships. The loops are 11 miles long with over 800 feet of climbing per lap.

Groups do anywhere from 44 to 66 miles.

Many masters racers are either ex-professionals or some are still riding professionals.  The competition is very intense and the caliber of riders ensures the racing is fast and exciting.

Sunday's Minden Criterium is the most exhilarating.  The course runs around Minden Park and the courthouse. The fastest groups will average more than 27 mph, and this is on a course that has 6 turns in 0.8 miles.

This race is best described as fast and furious since there are lots of attacks, accelerations etc., and most races end up in a brutal mass sprint for the line.

  This will bring the excitement like we see for the Tour de France right here to Minden.  While the sprints are not as fast and the distance is not as long, the speeds and power are still impressive.  Races happen all day with many categories for women and men, so if you have the opportunity, you might make your way to downtown Minden to check it out. 

Personally, I have been taking riding a little more casually.  The local club race series is really fun and keep competitive juices flowing.  The masters race will also give me a chance to try to hang on to riders who race most weekends.

However I have been enjoying some new mountain bike rides in the Tahoe basin.  During a vacation at Lake Tahoe for my wife's birthday, she permitted me to get some rides in with my visiting brother from Las Vegas and sister from San Diego.

The mountain bike riding in this area is so fun and rivals riding anywhere in the world. I tried out two new trails and was challenged on both.  The technical aspects of the local trails can challenge riders of any level.  I seemed to crash a couple of times, going uphill ...  It is quite odd to crash while going slow uphill, but I will say they were technical sections with stairs and tall rocks.  I would rather fall going uphill than downhill though since the speeds are much slower ... The recent rains in June have left the Sierras green and filled with flowers, which is quite different from the dry smoke filled skies that normally greet the area this time of year.

If you haven't been out riding or hiking this year up there, it is time to head out before the 90-plus degree weather dries out the mountains. 

The junior team continues to grow.  This week we had two riders turn out for the first time.  One rider is an accomplished motocross rider who joins us from Reno.  The other is a young BMX rider who is nationally ranked.  Cross country runners, triathletes, motocross, and BMXers are seeing the benefits of riding over the summer to maintain fitness for their fall sports.  I am hoping to build a team that will be ready for the final junior team trip to the San Jose Velodrome and some Bay area riding to cap off the season.

Mel Maalouf is The Record-Courier's cycling columnist. He also coaches the Alta Alpina Cycling Club junior team.


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