By Doug Hare
BIG SKY – On the morning of Aug. 25, Town Center was buzzing with activity well before 7 a.m. More than 200 riders were getting ready to tackle the inaugural Big Sky Biggie event, a 30- and 50-mile mountain bike race lacing through Big Sky’s extensive trail network.
From the Meadow, up to Big Sky Resort and down the classic Mountain-to-Meadow trail, as well as newer additions to the local trail network like Ralph’s Pass, all of the community’s best dirt was featured.
“For our first-year event, I was incredibly pleased with the participation numbers and community support. It was honestly everything I dreamed it would be, and I’m so proud of our town, volunteers, sponsors, land partners, and of course our ‘Biggie Board,’” said race director Natalie Osborne. “Our goals were to bring the community together, raise funds to improve the connectivity of the existing trail network, and to bring visitors to Big Sky. I think we nailed it.”
Osborne and BSCO Executive Director Ciara Wolfe were able to navigate multiple agreements with private land owners, associations and businesses in order to provide a course that showed the promise that Big Sky’s burgeoning trail network holds for riders from near and far—and one that will also help the BSCO’s Master Trail Plan become a reality.
With nearly 270 registrations for the event, including the short-track race on Sunday, and a cap at 300, the event proved to be a near sell-out in its first year. According to Osborne, it was important to create a race with liberal registration policies for the inaugural event. So, up until the day before the race, competitors could transfer their race registration to someone else or defer their registration to next year, without penalty.
Osborne noted that she was emotional during the event, “thanks to a combination of sleep-deprivation and sheer joy.” She said that she was able to hold it together on Saturday, even when Kevin Noble was presenting the Montanner award, for the fastest climb in the first 7 miles of the course, to young pro rider and recent MSU graduate Tanner Visnick. The award was named in honor of Tanner Scott Noble who tragically passed away at 18 years old while riding at Big Sky Resort last year.
“But at Sunday’s short track event, when juniors and kids between the ages of 5-14 took to the course with huge smiles and laughter, I just lost it and had to walk off into the sage to cry,” Osborne said. “I was just so happy.”
Safety Director for the event, Phil Hess, was quick to give Osborne credit: “She brought together an incredible list of sponsors, attracted a premium field of riders, over [one-quarter] of the participants were women, had cash prizes—which is exceptional for a first-year event—and coordinated 60 volunteers. Just wow.”
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