By Brandon Martin
The Cane Creek Cup is returning to Mountain Laurel Trails for the 2nd annual Sledgehammer XC Mountain Bike Race on July 18, as the final race of the USA Cycling Virginia State Championship Series.
Bob Norris, owner of Mountain Laurel Trails, said that including participants and spectators, the event garnered 200 to 400 people last year.
“We got lucky when we were approached last year to host the race,” Norris said. “It turned out to be such a success and I’m looking forward to seeing the turnout this year. Mountain biking is actually pretty popular among people in the area so if you haven’t yet, I’d say you should come out and give it a chance.”
He said the overall number of mountain bike races has been cut back this year due to the coronavirus but he added that the new guidelines won’t affect the Sledgehammer race much.
Racers must be licensed by USA Cycling. One day licenses are available for $10 at registration. Expert payout for the event will be up to $1,000 cash. There is a 100 percent payout, based on racer turnout. On-site registration is available for $10 extra. There will be trophies, medals and random cash payouts in each group.
There are 20 races scheduled for the day. The professional men and women’s categories kick off the day at 10 and 10:02 a.m., consecutively. The final race of the day will be the Junior 11 Under which begins at 1:16 p.m.
Since 2013, Norris has collaborated with other trail builders and mountain biking enthusiasts in Southwest Virginia to develop the trail system on Horsepasture-Price Road. The trail system is located on more than 150 acres of private land. Negotiations are ongoing with other large tract-joining landowners to further develop the system and make it one of the largest mountain bike and hiking facilities in the area.
Nearly 10 miles of hand and machine constructed single track trails are almost complete, based on a stacked-loop design, and there are plans for up to 15. The 5-mile Central Loop is the “core” trail which all other optional trails are connected. Many of the trails border creeks and water while others meander through the woods or ridge-tops.
These trails were specifically designed to appeal to all skill levels, beginner to advanced. It remains a work-in-progress, with signage, maps, parking lot facilities, on site camping information boards and challenging optional technical trail features like “skinnys and rock gardens.”