Mountain bike racing returns to La Crosse
La Crosse is now home to some of the most unique, interesting, and downright fun to ride trails in the midwest. With a full 600 feet of elevation in the bluffs, you’ll find trails here that you won’t find anywhere else in Wisconsin.
In order to fully capture all of the opportunities the trails provide, ORA Trails is launching a new mountain bike race for 2022. ORA Trails Fest, which is being presented by local bike shop, Smith’s Bike Shop, will feature three different races and an opportunity to compete in all three to be crowned the Bluff Boss! The event is July 4th weekend, and there are also a ton of other fun and exciting things happening in La Crosse! Registration can be found here: bikereg.com/oratrailsfest
Unlike the wild west type days of early riding and racing, things have grown and developed in La Crosse. Investments from the former HPT group, now ORA Trails, as well as the City of La Crosse, along with an incredible amount of time and energy from local volunteers has transformed the area. Mountain bike racing formally came back in 2016, and then took a bit of a hiatus during Covid, but is back and better than ever.
Saturday morning will kick off with a true individual challenge – a time trial up the famous Vista trail. Not just for the pure climbers, the trail now continues along the bluff and includes some fast and flowy downhill sections to keep the fun high. Spectators can watch the start from the Lower Hixon Parking lot, or get a great vantage point along the trail to the finish line. Parking and spectating will be in the field across from the National Weather Service field office. Racers will emerge from the woods, and if they’ve raced properly, will be suffering as they sprint the final section.
Saturday afternoon is going to be even more exciting, both for participants and spectators. If you’ve ever seen a cool mountain bike video, with jumps, bumps, and raw speed and thought it looks awesome, then the Saturday afternoon enduro is for you. Racers will compete in an ‘entry-level’ 3-run category, and an ‘expert-level’ 5-run category. Spectators will get to watch from an excellent viewing point near the weather ball in the late afternoon, as racers will take on newly built downhill trails, Vader and JEDi. These trails were built in 2018 and have been enjoyed by cyclists from around the county. This is the first time that riders will have a chance to compete against the clock to see who can get down the fastest.
Sunday is a more traditional mountain bike race, with ups, downs and longer distances. This discipline is called cross country. There is a race for everyone, with a kids race starting things, and then a shorter and longer course for riders right after. Riders from flatter areas will find challenges in the sustained climbs of the La Crosse trails, but the reward from all the up is the opportunity to ‘send it’ on the downhills.
ORA Trails and Smith’s Bike Shop are excited to welcome local and regional riders to compete in this true test of off-road skill and ability. Additionally, there will be many other opportunities happening in La Crosse this weekend. Live music, food, and other entertainment will be happening daily at Riverfest, including a massive fireworks display over the Mississippi River on Monday night. Family and friends who are along for the ride, but not interested in racing will be able to participate in the Firecracker 4 mile run on Monday morning. Additionally, the new trails at Gateway will not be part of the race, so they will be available for fun rides, hikes, and enjoyment of views.
ORA Trails is dedicated to building happy, healthy, and resilient communities by providing access to equitable and sustainable outdoor recreation experiences. Smith’s Bike Shop is a bike shop, a family, and a community of riders, helping folks in La Crosse explore their passion for cycling.