Dave Cook was wanting a longer bike ride when he and his family came to visit Casper from Tacoma, Washington, this weekend.

He brought his bike with him, which needed its bottom bracket fixed. So he took it to Zeelo’s, where the staff set his bike straight.

In the process he found a flyer for Saturday’s Casper Mountain Bike Challenge and its 7.1-mile loop. He had found his long ride.

“I asked my family if it was OK to see the in-laws while I did this and they said it would be OK,” Cook said. “So off I went.”

He made it up Casper Mountain by 11:30 a.m., just in time to register for the 4-hour endurance race.

Awaiting Cook at the registration table was John Giantonio, the Director of Sports and Events at Visit Casper and one of the principal organizers of the event.

Giantonio had hoped to double registration from last year’s 40. The online registration closed with 69 riders last night before a total of seven riders, including Cook, registered in person before the race.

It was a picturesque day on the mountain, and the trails were groomed to near perfection — the perfect day for Giantonio and all those who oversaw the race.

“It’s been pretty fantastic,” he said. “My boss was up here earlier today and was like, ‘You’ve done a great job.’ And that’s good to hear, but you look around and everyone’s hanging out, they’re camping, they’re just having a good time and that’s what it’s all about. Plus, we have a bad—- race.”

Added Cook: “It’s a beautiful course. It’s smooth, a lot of turns, not a lot of speed and that’s fun because you can be precise with that.”

Local and commuting racers enjoyed the winding path and the changes in elevation. There weren’t any steep inclines on the course, which was deceptive in cloaking much of the 860-foot incline during the length of a lap. While gravity on the decline helped work in riders’ favor, they couldn’t gain a lot of speed because of the many turns.

By the end of the race the riders were weary, and some even resorted to letting their bikes fall off to the side as they laid on the dirt and let their legs rest for the first time in hours.

Some, like Cook, had never done an endurance race of that length before, so they relied on conservative strategies.

“I just wanted to start out slow the first lap and know the course,” he said. “Made sure I had a lot of water and electrolytes, made sure I drank and ate the whole time. You’re trying to be smooth and take advantage of the momentum that you have and not losing too much speed on the turns and not pushing too hard because then you’ll cramp up.”

Overall, it was a perfect day on the mountain for those who decided to camp and make a day of it. Riders complimented Giantonio on the course and the race itself.

The small race has gone from its humble beginnings to something that riders from six separate states enjoyed on Saturday in just a year’s time.

This story originally ran in the Casper Star-Tribune and on trib.com.

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Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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