Mountain biking race coming to The City 

Competitive mountain biking is coming to San Francisco and it promises to be a thrilling experience for the entire family.

The first annual McLaren Short Track Challenge is going to be held in John McLaren Park as part of the San Francisco Mountain Bike Festival on Saturday and the proceeds will help to fund the construction of The City's first bike park.

"We live in a dense urban environment where people are dying for this kind of activity," SF Urban Riders Executive Director Dan Schneider said. "Most people have to drive two or three hours just to get to a competitive race."

Bikers will race through the park's 2½-mile course in one of three groups — beginner, sport or pro-expert — with men and women's divisions for each class. The beginner races will run for 30 minutes and the winner will be the biker who's leading when time expires. The sport races will last 55 minutes with the pro-expert contests going for 75 minutes.

The races will start with a steep uphill climb for the first 150 yards, creating natural separation among competitors, before the course narrows into a single track. The course will also feature switchbacks, maneuvers through trees and significant climbs in each third of the race.

"McLaren is just a really scenic park, so while you're rolling around, you're going to get some incredible views of downtown San Francisco, the San Bruno mountains and the Bay," Schneider said.

In addition to the race, the bike festival will feature other family-friendly activities, like a bike-skills challenge loop, bike maintenance work shops and a pro jump demonstration.

The skills loops is a quarter-mile obstacle course for kids while the jump show will feature professionals from the Ride SFO Crew doing a variety of flips, whips and tricks.

Anyone can enter the race and the registration fees will help with the construction of the McLaren Bike Park. The rest of the events are free.

"Mom and dad can come out and race, hang out with the kids — it's just a great family event," Schneider said.

McLaren Short Track Challenge

WHAT: Competitive mountain bike race

WHEN: Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: John McLaren Park, San Francisco

COURSE: 2½ miles


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Paul Gackle

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