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Bike racers invoke the force

Bike racers invoke the force

Mountain bikers converged on Sam Brown Campground in the Southern Oregon mountains between the Redwood Highway and the Rogue River last weekend for a two-day, three-race event called Return of the Jedi.

Saturday morning featured a short-track competition on a 1-mile course where racers tried to complete as many laps as possible in a given time. The patowan learners (beginners) rode for 20 minutes, while the Jedi Masters (Pro/Cat 1s) chased each other for 40 minutes.

That afternoon riders were shuttled nearly to the top of Onion Mountain for the start of a 9-mile Super D downhill course along forest roads and trails. Racers began off their bikes and made a free-for-all sprint to saddle up and begin the descent, which dropped 2,000 vertical feet, reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

Sunday morning 90 racers competed on three different courses, from 15 to 30 miles, in a cross-country race that included single-track trails, tough climbs and creek crossings.

"I've raced all over the country, Europe and Canada," said pro rider Evan Plews, of team Capitol/Subaru, "and this has always been my favorite event. It's a true cross-country."

Plews pulled a hat trick, winning all three events and finishing the cross-country in 2:43:27.

For complete race results go to the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Web site, http://app.obra.org.

Reach freelance writer/photographer Andy Atkinson at andya@roguephoto.net.

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