Squash Blossom Classic MTB Weekend

Event History 2005-1013
Was it really back in 2005 that the Squash Blossom Classic started?  Now in its ninth season, (nearly 9% as aged as Ceremonial) it is fair to say it has a touch of history.  It has always been and continues to be an event with both biking and running races.  In the early years it included road bike races as well as mountain bike races.  Some may remember the downtown area with bales of hay stacked high in the intersections so that speeding roadies would have something soft to hit if their tires didn’t hold the corners.  Some riders did indeed kiss the hay in those years.

Gallup Journey ScreamerThe road biking events were dropped in recent years, primarily due to funding and Gallup’s growing acclaim as a mountain biking destination.  The run has remained steady, now offering a 4.5-mile, a half marathon (13.1-miles), and a fun family walk.   In the early years, a controversy erupted over the run when a local volunteer won the race, primarily because the rest of the field was unable to find the right way.  Ironically that victorious volunteer was in charge of marking the course.  But what events don’t have bumps in the road?

During the life of the Squash Blossom there have been chile festivals, car shows, Native dances, and one year of preposterous high winds.  In typical Gallup style, the participants have had all sorts of primarily pleasant surprises.

The mountain bike race is called the Screamer because of the extremely fast-paced course on High Desert Trails System.  Unlike many courses in the mountains, the Screamer doesn’t have long extended climbs, but involves a steady flow of twisty trail that utilizes all three “Mesa” loops of the trail system.

The Squash Blossom originated as the brain child of past mayor, Bob Rosebrough, who saw the need for a fall competitive event to round out Gallup’s tourist season, as well as utilize our newly created High Desert Trail System. Last year the event saw about 175 racers for each part of the event.

New For This Year!
New for 2013, the Squash Blossom has split into two separate weekend events.  The mountain biking events have been moved a week ahead to September 20-22, while the running events will be held Sunday, September 29.

Gallup Journey Levi

Levi Leipheimer is coming to Gallup!

The mountain bike portion will be quite extensive.  On Friday evening racers will gather at Sammy C’s to register and pick up race packets.  A cycling movie about Levi Leipheimer will be showing during that time.

On Saturday, September 21, the Screamer race will be held with special guest Levi Leipheimer,  a former road bike professional with a slew of accomplishments, from being a national champion to an Olympic medalist.  An avid mountain biker, Levi will be racing the Screamer as well as handling duties as its Grand Marshal.  The   prize money has been upgraded to $5000, which should also draw more pros to the race.

After the race on Saturday, riders will head downtown for an awards ceremony.  Immediately following awards, the movie Singletrack High will be showing  (open to public/approx 3 pm).  This film looks at mountain biking as a high school sport and chronicles the development of the National Interscholastic Cycling League (NICA).  After the film, a discussion about a regional Four Corners NICA league will take place.

Saturday evening there will be a downtown fund-raising dinner to help designate Gallup a “Ride Center” by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). Cost is $100 per plate ($75 for those who race).  This will be a classy event with an auction and keynote speaker, Levi Leipheimer, who is personally donating $1,000 for this initiative.  Anyone who matches Levi’s donation will be invited to join him Sunday morning for breakfast and a local bike ride.

Sunday, September 22 will be the Grand Opening of the Gallup Brickyard Bike park at the Fuhs Family Community Open Space (Junker Bridge).  A ceremony and ride demonstrations will take place at 1 pm and a short-track time trial race will start at 2 pm.  This race will be spectator-friendly and is close to downtown, with Levi Leipheimer racing as well.

For more info go to:
www.squashblossomclassic.com or

Gallup Brickyard Bike Park Grand Opening Sunday, Sept. 22, 1 pm
The City Parks Division, YCC, and designer Nat Lopes of Hilride Development Group are working rapidly for the bike park’s Grand Opening on Sunday, September 22 at 1 pm.

Come celebrate with us and watch some demonstrations of pro riders catching big air. A time trial short-track race will take place at 2 pm and should be exciting to watch as well!

To learn more about how the park developed, please go to
gallupjourney.com and read last month’s article on it.

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