The 2018 NW MTB Series, aka the “Wednesday Night World Championships” is underway. Last evening’s event had perfect weather and record attendance with over 200 participants.
Event organizer Russell Stevenson attributes the popularity to the fact that it’s a recurring event during the week with easy access from Seattle and the surrounding suburbs.
Although mountain bike racing is the reason folks show up, the social aspects of the evening are the real highlight. Russell and his staff have cultivated a festive atmosphere with tiki torches and a fun, community oriented-vibe, where friends hang out after their races.
Racing starts at 5:30 with a race for kids 10 and under, although some juniors are so skilled they ride with the adults in the 6PM or 7PM races.
The scene is similar to a cyclocross event in that the course consists of a single lap that twists and turns through the park, then passes through the start/finish area. The event is divided into three self-seeded races:
Kids (6-10yr) – 2 short laps, about 20min
Cat 3 (Sport) – 3 laps
Cat 4 (Beginners) – 2 laps
Cat 1 (Expert/Elite) – 4 laps
Cat 2 (Sport/Intermediate) – 3 laps
Since the series re-launched in 2014 (a mtb race series also ran here in the 1990s), Russell and a team of trail volunteers have gradually expanded the course options by adding connectors between the main trails, which gives them a way to change courses from week to week. They have also gradually added technical features that skilled riders can use to gap the competition.
New this year is the Tacos El Guero food truck serving delicious Mexican. I tried the tamales and they were tasty!
The NW MTB Series uses the same RFID timing chips as MFG Cyclocross and several other regional mountain bike races. This, combined with online registration and the use of computer tablets, makes it easier and more accurate for the race officials to track the results.
Competitors vie for a flashy leader’s jersey. Current series results.
The series runs through August 15.