Mountain bikers to race in Iola
By Ben Rodgers
Nearly 600 mountain bikers will be coming to the area for some bumps and jumps.
The Iola Bump & Jump on May 21 at the Iola Winter Sports Area is the second of 10 races that make up the Wisconsin Off Road Series, a competitive mountain bike circuit.
For two days the trails that are normally reserved for cross country skiers in the winter will be home to a variety of mountain bikers competing on the hilly terrain.
“It’s a blend of single-track narrow and twisted trials through the woods and open trails,” said Phil Johnsrud, Bump & Jump director.
Each lap is 5 miles long and races consist of a certain number of laps depending on the age and skill levels of the riders.
The course also loops through a centrally located jump bowl several times, which provides opportunities for people to view and cheer on riders.
Johnsrud said most of the people who attend the event are someway affiliated with a participant, or have ridden in the past. Still he said the public is welcome to come and check out it.
The Wisconsin Off Road Series is also looking to get more people involved in the sport. So it does have a division for people to try the course out.
This would be the only time of the year the Winter Sports Area is open to mountain bikes.
“They really want to encourage new people to do it so they can ride an easier course,” Johnsrud said. “But if you got in with the big boys and weren’t up to it – that would be bad.”
Races start at 9:30 a.m. with the last race starting at 1:30 p.m. There is no cost to view and concessions will be available.
However, in order to participate riders must have a license – a one-day license can be purchased on site – and pay a fee depending on the division they race.
More information on the specific fees and times can be found online at wors.org/schedule/iola/.
Johnsrud said this event will draw people from across Wisconsin and into Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan’s upper peninsula.
“People like to get on our course because we’re not open regularly for mountain bikes and it’s a nice course,” Johnsrud said.
The event will have a big enough draw that many riders will stay overnight in surrounding towns, as riders get the day before the race to try the trail.
Bumps & Jumps is also a fundraiser for the non-profit Iola Winter Sports Club, which boasts more than 12 miles of cross country ski trails, four of which are lighted.
“This allows us to put money toward equipment and facilities,” Johnsrud said. “We’re not rich but since everything goes back to our facilities, we’re able to have a nice place for this area.”