Trail blazers

Sunny day warms spirits for Cool bike race
By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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COOL ” Participants and spectators raved about the sunshine Sunday during the 16th annual Cool Mountain Bike Race. The weather is so nice and it is so good to be out here, said Lake of the Pines resident Pam Grant, who attended the race to support a friend who was participating. It makes this really fun to watch as a spectator. The sunny skies and warm temperatures Sunday were a sharp contrast to races past, notably two years ago, when a hefty layer of snow covered the mud that riders young and old come to expect while racing on the Olmstead Loop. We just have a ton of people out here today, said Lisa Kodl of Auburn Bikeworks, who has helped organize the race for the past 11 years. It's the weather ” everyone just wants to get out. Men, women and children of all experience levels participated Sunday. Entrants could choose to ride a maximum of three loops, or nearly 30 miles. Race participant Dustin Yue finished first in the single-loop category. I came down today just for this race because it is a lot of fun, said Yue, a resident of Auburn who is currently attending school in Humboldt County. It was his second time participating in the ride and he completed it a little dirtier than when he started. This is all trail mud, Yue said of the wet dirt that covered most of his body. The trail seemed muddier in some spots, but dryer in others than it has been before. Auburn resident Ken Downey was in second place four miles into what was supposed to be the first of his two laps. I got about four miles down before my chain broke, Downey said. But that's racing. Downey maintained a positive attitude while standing at the finish, waiting for others to cross. The course is excellent, Downey said. It is nice and fast and not too dusty. The race, limited to the first 425 entrants, is a major fundraiser for the Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition, known as FATRAC, an organization dedicated to trail building and maintenance. All the funds we raise stay in the Auburn State Recreation Area, Kodl said. It goes to help maintain year-round trail riding. We want to try to keep the park open for as much multi-use as possible. The Cool Mountain Bike Race is also the annual kickoff for the mountain biking season in the foothills. This is where is starts, Kodl said. We are the beginning. Dozens of spectators gathered at the base of a hill near the end of the race loop, an area known for good wipeouts into mucky puddles. While the muddy section was easy to spot, the infamous wooden ramp riders usually launch off of was no where in sight Sunday. We never brought the ramp, Kodl said. It would always just appear the day of the race. But we had heard the person who normally brings it was not able to participate this year. The missing ramp didn't seem to dampen the spirits of spectators who have come to expect the race's messy ending. I like to watch them fall, Auburn resident Julie Rios admitted. It's fun to watch from here, too, because unless you go on the trail, you can't see anything. Rios attended Sunday's race with her 12-year-old daughter, Janelle. Rios' husband and a few friends were participating. Mickey Olmstead-Swart was also watching the race at the end of the loop. The race's trail was named after Olmstead-Swart's late husband, Dan Olmstead, in 1993. Olmstead was an avid hiker and biker in the area who worked to organize the race 16 years ago. Today has been fantastic and I know Dan would be so proud, Olmstead-Swart said while watching for her two sons, Andy and Kenny, who participated in the race, to pass by. He probably never even dreamed it would turn into this. Olmstead-Swart said she enjoys watching racers each year. It is such a fun sport to watch, she said. The whole atmosphere of mountain biking is fun and casual. It's an all around good family event. The Journal's Jenna Nielsen can be reached at or comment on this story at