Shepherd Mountain Bike Park earns rave reviews
Shepherd Mountain Bike Park has officially staked its claim in the mountain biking world.
One month after its opening, the park hosted its first national race to rave reviews. Results from the race can be found at https://www.bigmountainenduro.com/.
Two hundred and fifty-nine mountain bikers including 45 professionals from all over the county descended on Ironton over the weekend for the first race in this season’s Big Mountain Enduro series.
The race was on Sunday, but many of the racers were in town for several days, practicing on the mountain. On Saturday night, downtown Ironton hosted a party with live music.
Ironton Mayor Bob Lourwood said the weekend went better than they could have thought.
“All of the racers were very excited about the trails and everything,” he said. “People from mountain biking territory — Colorado, California, all those places — they’re all excited about what’s going on here. And to me, it’s just phenomenal. It’s just overwhelming.”
The other places hosting BME races this season are Big Sky, Montana; Winter Park, Colorado; Durango, Colorado; and Brian Head, Utah.
Richie Rude, originally from Connecticut, won all five stages to claim the pro men’s title. In his interview at the awards ceremony, the two-time Enduro World Series champion said it was a fun race.
“It’s pretty similar to kind of what I ride back home,” he added.
Kate Lawrence, from Boulder, Colorado, won the pro women’s division.
Many of the winners picked stage four, knows as the cannonball, as their favorite.
Rob Brown, from Salt Lake City, Utah, finished 18th in the pro division.
“The place was super steep, loose, and rocky,” he said. “We call it jank/janky.”
He especially enjoyed the vibe of the pit area and the live music.
“The whole town showed up,” he added. “It’s just been a really good time.”
Sara Tighe, who is originally from Tasmania, Australia, but has lived in St. Louis for about a year, finished fourth in the amateur women’s division. She was in town for the week and said everyone has been really welcoming.
“This venue is absolutely amazing,” she said. “I had no idea that there was going to be something this fantastic in Ironton, Missouri. It’s some of the steepest, gnarliest trials I’ve ridden anywhere.”
Justice Berry, winner of the e-bike men’s division, said he got into town from Kansas City early Friday afternoon. At first the trails were relatively dry, but the combination of hundreds of tires on the trails and moisture on Sunday, meant a muddy finish for the racers.
“It was really a blast,” he said. “It kept you on your toes. You had to bring your A-game, but this place is legit.”
He said he mainly sticks in races in the Midwest, including Colorado and Arkansas.
“This is steep and rowdy,” he added. “Like it was steeper than anything that I’ve been to in Colorado, as far as danger-wise.”
Lourwood said a lot of work went into making the race happen in Ironton.
“There’s so many people that have worked on this,” he added. “It’s just amazing.”
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.