'Spring Thaw' heats up bike trails

Nathan Riddle charges through the rock garden at the top of Catwalk Trail Sunday during the downhill race at the Spring Thaw Mountain Bike Festival in Ashland.Andy Atkinson

Cyclists from around the Northwest flooded Ashland Saturday and Sunday for the Spring Thaw Mountain Bike Festival.

On Saturday, 266 riders, from beginners to pros, rode in a cross-country race that circled the Ashland Watershed with steep climbs, fast descents on forest roads and technical single-track trails.

Pro rider Evan Plews, for team Capitol Subaru Cycling/Scott USA, was the fastest male in 1:41:36. Maureen Kunz, part of the Lost Coast Brewery team, was the fastest pro woman in 2:04:17.

Saturday also saw juniors of all ages compete on a paved trail within Lithia Park.

On Sunday, 176 riders layered in body armor raced down the Catwalk trail in the 1.7-mile downhill race.

Mark Weir, who placed fourth in the cross-country race the day before, won the downhill in 4:09.46. Only 1.35 seconds behind was local shredder Nathan Riddle.

The fastest woman to conquer the downhill course was Leana Gerrard in 5:00.43.

For complete results visit the Southern Oregon Mountain Bike Association Web site at www.somba.org/springthaw.

Contact freelance photographer Andy Atkinson at andya@roguephoto.net.

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