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Biking Gets Serious in Sun Valley

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It seems like we've been talking about bikes a whole lot recently, but you've got to go where all the action is happening. In this case, that means making a trip to Sun Valley for one of the most action-packed, week-long, bike-oriented festivals we've seen in a long time.

The Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival includes not only a pile of fun rides, races and assorted entertainment, but packs the USA Cycling National Championships for mountain bike cross country and the Sun Valley All Mountain two-day stage race in with it.

The festival officially begins on Sunday, July 11, but the action really starts on Wednesday, July 13, when the racers will register, practice runs begin and everyone is welcomed with a dinner on the Ketchum town plaza ($20 for the public).

Races will run daily from Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, July 17, with awards nightly. Competition at this even is serious, with categories and age brackets for men, women, juniors and masters.

But even if you're not a world-class athlete ready to burn up the trail, there's plenty more to check out. Smith Optics is sponsoring the Local Stoker series, five days of morning trail rides across some of the area's best trails. While the rides are free, they aren't for wimps and include some solid climbs and technical routes. Rides leave each morning form the Sun Valley Visitors Center, and shuttles are free, although you need your own bike, food, water and repair equipment. Space is limited for each ride, so contact the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau at 800-634-3347.

The Fat Tire Criterium on Thursday, July 14 promises to be a blend of skill and chaos. The multi-lap race along a "fast, technical and spectator-stupefying" course (according to the official website, at least) will start at 6:30 p.m. and include pros and kids, as well as the a four-person relay team race that pits Sun Valley locals against each other.

The competition won't be limited to the mountain on Saturday, July 16, when the Idaho Pump Track State Championships take over the Ketchum Bike Park. Racing will go on all day, with categories for all ages--literally: mini racing is for ages 4 and younger, while older kids will be grouped into ages 9 and younger and 13 and younger, and adults can compete in the open and pro category.

Check out a full schedule of events, as well as all the details including race schedules, course maps and registration info at ridesunvalley.com.

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