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Entries Needed for 1996 Military Mountain Bike

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 22, 1996 – Military mountain cyclists will compete at the third annual National Military Mountain Bike Championships Oct. 12-13 at Snow Summit, near Big Bear Lake, Calif.

This year's competition will run in conjunction with the 1996 Big Bear Fall Classic. Service members not only have a chance to win military medals, they will also compete against civilian cyclists for overall honors.

Military race officials at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., are hoping for a better turnout this year over the 1995 championships. Last year, less than 10 military racers competed at the championships in Frederick, Md., they said.

"We're sure the biggest problem last year was the word didn't get out [to the services]," said Air Force Maj. James Ramsey, spokesman for the military competition. "This year, we're hoping to get the best military mountain bikers by promoting and often."

Ramsey said the 1996 competition will feature two events, held on separate days. The first event is a mountain downhill race -- a first for the military championships. He described the race as an off-road, individual time-trial where racers travel a point-to-point downhill course.

"Normally, [most] courses contain lots of switchback turns, fast, steep sections and jumps," said Ramsey. "Course length is typically two-to-five miles." He added because of downhill hazards, riders typically wear protective "body armor" to protect them from crashes.

On the second day, cyclists take on an 18-mile cross country course. Racers again navigate hills and water hazards trying to record the fastest time in their group.

Ramsey said entrants may compete in either or both events. Unlike traditional cycling events that combine scores from each event for an overall winner, each event at Snow Summit is a separate competition with winners in each category.

Cyclists compete in age and gender categories, with gold, silver and bronze medals going to the top finishers in each division. Military men and women may compete in the following categories: professional, 19-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-44, 45-54 and over 55.

Each category winner will also receive a "National Champion" jersey.

Although the Big Bear Classic is open to all mountain bike racers, the military championship limits its entries to uniformed service members. To enter the military competition, service members must pay a $32 entry fee for each event, or $57 for both stages.

Athletes must also hold a National Off-Road Bicycle Association license. Those not holding a license may purchase a one-day license at each race.

Ramsey said unit commanders may authorize racers to compete while on "permissive temporary duty." All travel, lodging and dining expenses are the athlete's responsibility. "Depending on the caliber of cyclist, organizations such as U.S. Military Sports Association can give limited financial assistance through their grant programs," he said.

Ramsey also suggests competitors make early lodging reservations. "There are a few Marine Corps cabins at the Snow Summit race site which sleep six," he said. "However, reservations fill quickly."

The closest military base is March Air Force Base, Calif., about 90 minutes away from Snow Summit. Ramsey said he is working with nearby bases to reserve rooms for military competitors. Currently, most rooms for permissive travel are on a space-available basis.

For more information about the competition, entry requirements and fees, contact Ramsey at (719) 554-5486.

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