SPORTS: Dry Hill set for final downhill bike races this weekend

PORT ANGELES — The Dry Hill downhill bike racing course might actually live up to its name during the season’s final action this weekend.

Dry Hill has been anything but during the Northwest Cup race series in Port Angeles, previously held April 7-10 and May 13-15 this year.

It was more like a mud bowl those two first times with heavy rain, skidding bikes and flying mud.

Ironically, most riders might be disappointed with the summer-like sun and warm temperatures if it continues through the weekend.

“Everybody likes rain,” Port Angeles promoter Scott Tucker said about downhill racers.

“I prefer rain,” he said. “I like to ride in mud.”

The races this weekend at Dry Hill will be the third this season at the site and will be the finals for the 2011 Northwest Cup.

The series also had two races at Mount Hood Skibowl in Oregon.

The event, west of Port Angeles and free to spectators, will feature riders in four categories, including pro and expert, intermediate and beginning.

There are three different course tracts for different skill levels.

Tucker and his promoting partner at Olympic Dirt Society, Casey Northern, are expecting 350 riders for the three days of practice and competition.

The event goes Friday through Sunday.

Attracting crowds

Most of those downhill riders will be from out of town as Tucker is expecting at least 500 visitors to the area for the event.

Only about 30 of the competitors will be from the North Olympic Peninsula.

“We will have riders from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado and Utah,” Tucker said.

“We get a lot of Canadians down for the races.”

Tucker learned on Monday that a team of 20 downhill racers are driving to the area from Colorado.

“They said they heard about us and they want to try us out,” he said.

Practice starts at 1 p.m. on Friday and continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Races take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The championship race will be the final event of the day, close to 3 p.m.

As usual, the courses will be different from the first two Dry Hill races.

“We change them for each event,” Tucker said. “They are never the same.”

On the Northwest Cup web site, www.nwcup.com, someone wrote:

“We slaved away on the hill with an excavator all weekend and have the tracks open and ready for your racing pleasure.

“You won’t recognize the top section and the upper White Knuckle. Great views, though.”

Tucker explained that trees along the top third of the track are being logged on the state Department of National Resources (DNA) land.

The state agency is allowing Olympic Dirt Society to use the land for downhill racing.

“DNR is very good to let us use the property,” Tucker said. “They are logging on our schedule. They will not be logging this weekend during our event.”

The logging operation has downed the trees on the left side at the top third of the course.

“Now you have a very good view of the Strait from there,” Tucker said.

“We’re fairly relieved it is happening now. They won’t be logging again there for a long, long time.”

The Olympic Dirt Society received help to excavate the course and prepare for this weekend from Jim Debord of Port Angeles, who used his own machinery and volunteered his time.

“I’m retired and have some free time, and so I went out to help [Tucker],” Debord said.

“I believe in the city [of Port Angeles], and Tucker will bring a lot of money into the city.”

Tucker invites spectators to come to the races.

He suggests that drivers park tight because there isn’t a lot of room to park.

For directions to Dry Hill, go to www.nwcup.com.

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Sports Editor Brad LaBrie can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at brad.labrie@peninsuladailynews.com.

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