published Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Mountain biking after dark with Team SORBA

A biker rides a connector trail on his way to the South Hogs Back trail near Cloudland Canyon State Park.
A biker rides a connector trail on his way to the South Hogs Back trail near Cloudland Canyon State Park.
Photo by Dan Henry.

The night time will be the right time for the Chattanooga chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association on April 12 at Enterprise South Park.

Team SORBA will host the Night Shift mountain bike race that night in the inaugural running of the event that is part of a four-race trail series this year.

The race series started March 9 with the Pick Your Poison race at Booker T. Washington State Park. Jason Bewley of Jefferson, Ga., was the men's open winner, and Asheville, N.C. resident Adena Wygmans won the women's open competition.

Now the competition moves to Enterprise South after the sun goes down.

The Night Shift will be a six-hour endurance race that will start at 8 p.m., meaning riders will be on the trails until 2 a.m. battling for cash and prizes.

"Registration at this point is better than Pick Your Poison, which was a month ago when we had 201 people," Team Sorba race director Michael Long said Wednesday by phone. "For that race we had 100 people sign up the week of the race and 40 sign up the day of the race. So we're hoping to get the same type of numbers and turnout."

Racers will attempt to complete as many laps of the course over the six hour period, with each lap consisting of all three mountain bike trails at Enterprise South: Black Forest, TNT, Log Rhythm and the connector trail. Each lap will be 10 miles long.

Racing will be for both men and women's open competitions as well as a single-speed category. In addition there will be a male, female and coed duo racing where teams of two riders take turns on the course over the six hours in an attempt to log the most laps through the night and early morning hours.

"We're really getting a lot of positive feedback about it," Long said. "Everybody is very excited about the race because it's really the only race of this kind in the area."

The racing is sanctioned by USA Cycling and there is an entry fee of $50 per rider. For more information on the race and how to register, go online to nightshift-race.com or email teamsorbachattanooga@gmail.com.

Long said online registration will end at 11:30 p.m. Friday, but on-site registration will be available the day of the race.

In addition to the men's, women's and duo categories, Team SORBA has launched an industry challenge with employees and family members of bicycle manufacturers and bike shops competing for bragging rights and trophies.

The first 200 registered racers will get a specially designed reflective t-shirt, perfect for riding in the dark. And there is prize money in the open categories and merchandise will be given to the top riders in the duo competition.

Lynskey Performance and Double Cola are the two primary sponsors for the Night Shift and all the races in the SORBA race series this year. In addition to financial help as a sponsor, Lynskey will be giving away a mountain bike frame and Double Cola will provide drinks and other help for the event.

The Night Shift and night-time mountain bike racing is relatively new to the Chattanooga scene, but Long hopes its something that local and visiting riders will embrace as they did for Pick Your Poison in March and the other races Team SORBA put on in 2013.

"I don't want to say everything we've been doing is working, but it appears that everything we've been doing is working," Long said. "People are super psyched about giving away Lynskey frames at each race, and we're starting to sign up new sponsors to hopefully help out in later races."

Following the Night Shift this month, the race series continues July 12-13 with a two-day Raccoon Mountain Super-D and Endurance Time Trial and the series will conclude October 11 at the Lula Lake Land Trust 5-Points 50, a 50-mile race on Lookout Mountain that will be held the week of the RiverRocks outdoor sports festival.

Contact Jim Tanner at jtanner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6478.

about Jim Tanner...

Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...

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