Mudder's Day

"Had they split the little mud available equally among themselves, 135 mountain bikers racing on a wooded, rural Langley race course last weekend would have had just enough of the filthy stuff to get their tires dirty.Riders of all skill levels, from 10-year-old beginners to seasoned, 30-something professionals, tore into the Whidbey Island Mudder mountain bike race course under a blazing sun for a whole day's worth of racing. Riding a hilly, winding 3.3-mile loop, the bikers exceeded race organizers' speed expectations. Sport-class rider Bruce Patterson hit the highest speed on the day, blasting downhill on a two-foot wide dirt path at 36 mph. Average race speeds were out of sight as well. In the sport-expert race, professional riders from Seattle's Bianchi and Diamondback teams bombed through the single-and-double track at a rate of 11 minutes per loop. Riders in the beginner class rode the loop in about 20 minutes.Mark Hansen won the expert class, even after his brother, Loren, crashed out of the race in a tangle with a lapped sport rider late in the 7-lap race. For his troubles, Loren received a trip to Whidbey General Hospital, while Mark went on to beat top pro-am rider Toby Swanson and pro Dan Norton.Race promoter Robert Frey said it was a shame to see Loren Hansen go down.Mark and Loren were like a freight train at the front of the race, he said.In the men's sport race, Kurt Brown was the overall winner. Single-speed bike racer Ed Clauson made a strong showing for himself in the sport category as well, finishing in the middle of the pack even though his machine sported only one gear.The Mudder also attracted some of the youngest mountain bikers around. In the 12-and-under class, Ryan Frank was the winner, followed by Robert McBride and Noah Jolley.Among 13- to 18-year-old boys, Jason Porter took second place behind race winner Forest Hieptps, and was closely followed by Corey Jennings. Paul Richards was tops for beginner men, beating out Don Miller and Peter Fisher in the top-three placings.Because there were only 17 women riders in the 135-racer field, they raced together in a single race. Cheri Heckenleigh and Darcy Patterson were top finishers."

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