Mountain lakes pose a challenge

If your bicycling passion lies with endurance rather than the technical challenge of a Super D course, consider joining the Mountain Lakes Challenge in Ashland Saturday, June 19.

This century ride has been held almost every year for more than 25 years, making it the oldest bicycling event in the Rogue Valley.

The Challenge offers two options: a 100-mile century ride and a 58-mile "metric century" that covers some of the same course. This makes two fewer races than during the last Challenge, held in 2008.

"We took a break last year. We had as many as four different courses in a year, but they weren't as well attended. It got to be exhausting (to organize), especially trying to feed 500 people," says Jonathan Williams, event director for the Challenge and event coordinator for local bicycle club Siskiyou Velo, the event organizer.

Williams expects the number of riders to be down this year because of the recession. As of Sunday, 120 riders had paid the $30 entry fee, and he expects an equivalent number to register in the hour before the 7 a.m. start. Day-of-race registration is $35.

The local economy, however, stands to benefit. Half the riders in most years come from the Bay Area and Portland and stay for the weekend. Sponsors for this year's event are Southern Oregon Subaru and Hammer Nutrition.

Riders will have plenty of opportunities to refuel during the Challenge. In addition to a dessert feast at the finish, four rest stops along the course will offer refreshment for tired riders as they climb a total of 7,100 feet in elevation over the 100-mile course.

The century course traces a figure-8 loop that begins and ends at the Grove in Ashland. Riders will head out Highway 66 past Emigrant Lake to Green Springs Summit. The course then passes by Hyatt Lake, Howard Prairie Lake and Lake of the Woods. The return trip follows Highway 140, Forest Road 37 and Dead Indian Memorial Road before cruising into Ashland.

For more information on the Mountain Lakes Challenge, visit www.mountainlakeschallenge.com or call Cheryl French at 541-646-5735.

To learn more about the Siskiyou Velo Bicycle Club, visit www.siskiyouvelo.org.

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