Night Rider

Cyclists in Leadville have been letting thin air go to their heads since at least 1889, when the Cloud City Wheelmen first brought together a group of hardy local gents and their penny-farthing bikes for early acts of extreme sportsmanship at 10,154 feet, predating the town’s modern endurance-sports craze by about a century. Today’s Cloud City Wheelers ride more state-of-the-art contraptions, but the members still have their heads in the clouds.

Consider tonight’s Tennessee Pass Night Jam, a twelve-mile bike race on groomed cross-country ski trails at Ski Cooper’s Tennessee Pass Nordic Center and the second contest in the Wheelers’ annual Winter Mountain Bike Race Series.

“The race starts with a good twenty-minute climb, so it’ll warm you up pretty quick,” says Sterling Mudge, a Leadville local who helped resurrect the Wheelmen’s legacy. “Last month it snowed ten inches the night before the race and another five during the race, and we still had about seventy people show up. There’s a lot of straight-up, die-hard cyclists around here. You won’t freeze if you’re pedaling fast enough.”

You can register for $20 starting at 5 p.m. today at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center (the fee benefits the Wheelers’ mountain-bike trail-building efforts in Lake County); the race starts at 7 p.m. For more information, visit
Sat., Feb. 19, 7 p.m., 2011