The mid-week, Over The Hump Race Series
, founded in Orange County, expands into LA County in 2013 with the kick-off event next Thursday on May 23rd at Castaic Lake, off the I-5 Freeway just North of Magic Mountain. The LA County Over The Hump Race Series
follows the same guidelines that made the Orange County series
(that kicks off May 21st) such a runaway success.
We rode the LA course last week. Here is what we found.
If you have never raced a mountain bike, this is the place to test the waters. You don't need a team, a trainer or a $10,000 carbon-fiber race bike. Your current mountain bike will work fine (unless it is a downhill bike) and the age and ability categories keep things fair.
“OTH is designed to be a relaxed event for everyone,” explains Matt Wenger, who along with John Russell created the Orange County series. “The event is fun and competitive and family friendly. Basically, it’s a party atmosphere where a race happens. Maybe the biggest reason for the OTH success is that Beginner and Sport racers find a home different than typical racing. They can enjoy the fun of racing and being around our sport while not being intimidated.”
The Castaic course, like the Orange County course at Irvine Lake, should produce very high average speeds. The course is designed for flow and does not favor the climbers. That's a good thing (for everyone except climbers).
The focus on the Beginner and Sport racer is obvious. No license is needed so anyone can race. The entry fee is 25 bucks online ($30 at the race). The Castaic course IS NOT THE LAYOUT USED IN THE PAST
. Gone are the stomach-churning climbs. While there are plenty of challenging sections (what course isn’t challenging at speed?), the all-new course layout doesn’t force riders up demoralizing climbs, through scary technical sections or along lonely stretches of nothingness. The approximate 5-mile lap is full of rolling hills, fast sweeper corners, singletrack through a tree tunnel and flat-out hauling hard-packed dirt roads. The course design encourages tight racing, where racers should end up in packs rather than going it alone. The short laps also mean that faster racers catch slower racers. This adds a whole new dimension (picking your way through the pack) and lets the newbies ride shoulder to shoulder with the best.
Racers can save $5 by going to the OTH website and entering. Just click here.