Professional and beginner bike riders from across the state converged on Abilene this weekend for the Buck Creek Bent Wheel Bash, an annual off-road bicycle race for all ages and skill levels.
Competitors in Sunday’s race, sponsored by the local cycling shop, Bike Town, pedaled around a 12-mile single-track circuit course at Buck Creek Trails, which is just past the Walmart on Highway 351. Riders could enter in one of three categories corresponding to three levels of expertise.
Category 1, the professional category, was a 24-mile race and required an annual license from USA Cycling, the national competitive cycling organization that sanctioned the race. Category 2 was 18.5 miles, and Category 3 was 13 miles, except for entrants younger than 17, who raced only 6.5 miles.
Bear Aspra, senior biology major and longtime mountain biker from Hunt, raced in Category 3. He said he rides three or four times each week, and Buck Creek has some of the best trails he has ever ridden.
Aspra estimated a total of 150-200 riders raced Sunday, including his friend, Alex Wann, senior environmental science major from Torrington, Wyo.
Wann is not a regular mountain biker, but he said he had a great time.
“It’s a dynamic sport, and the dynamics of the trails can be exciting and challenging to ride through.”
Becauase the race was nationally recognized, any entrant who was not a member had to purchase a $5 one-day license from USA Cycling in addition to the $20 entry fee, to participate and was banned from entering Category 1.
That didn’t faze Aspra, though, who said he enjoys technical riding more than racing.
“There are some people who compete seriously, but most people just do it to do it. That’s my kind of deal,” he said.
Both Aspra and Wann recommended other students get involved with biking, emphasizing the fun and friendly – and healthy – character of the “biking community.”
“I think it’s a great way to get into God’s earth and God’s beauty,” Aspra said.