By Ellery Jividen
Bikers from Mississippi and beyond geared up for Mississippi’s longest and continuously-run mountain biking race last week – the Clear Creek Challenge.
The event held Sept. 21 on the eastern shores of Sardis Lake drew locals and biking fans. It included categories for all riding levels and was open to juniors.
Race volunteer Steve Valliant said the Clear Creek Challenge is an opportunity for riders to take advantage of the technical aspects of the trail system.
“These trails have what mountain bikers refer to as good flow,” he said. “That means you can roll through it while easily keeping you speed.”
In 2000, an initiative began to build a new set of trails, and the Clear Creek Recreation Area was the chosen location. Located off College Hill Road, it is a 30-minute drive from Oxford.
What began as a five-mile loop of beginner-level mountain biking trails has evolved into 13 miles of technical stretches for bikers seeking a change of pace.
Poplarville resident Paul Kaufmann participates providing riders with music and water bottles.
“I am injured,” he said, “so this is my way to support the race and riders.”
In 2013, the race became the seventh race in the Mississippi Off-Road Cycling Series. The series acts as a tournament and names a statewide champion every year. An increasing number of locals and riders from across the South travel to participate in the race.
First time racer Nathan Jones, of Starkville, enjoyed the fast pace of the course.
“It was my first race,” Jones said. “I didn’t wreck, and I am really happy with how it turned out.”