Printed on: May 16, 2013

Salmon to host bike race Sat.


SALMON -- Endurance mountain bike racers from across the nation will gather Saturday in the foothills above Salmon for the "Twelve Hours of Disco" race.

Racers will test their skills in the race that runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. over a rugged track on Discovery Hill. The track covers some of the same ground once traversed by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The number of racers in the event this year has grown to 170. Last year, 72 riders participated in the inaugural race, according to Max Lohmeyer, race organizer and owner of The Hub, a local bike and sports shop.

The event pits solo racers against one another as they try to complete the most laps in the 12-hour period. Racers also can compete as members of two- or four-person relay teams.

Racers range from some of the country's top-tier endurance cyclists to those who will ride for the first time.

"Even though we've got some of these ultra-fast racers, being on the podium is not what this race is about. It's about different skill levels of riders coming together and having fun," Lohmeyer said.

Playing off the disco theme, a party with live music, food and drink will take place in a 30-foot geodesic dome to be hauled to Discovery Hill.

Top finishers will receive cash awards, but the bulk of the money generated by the event will go to improving existing bike, horseback and hiking trails in Lemhi County.

That work will be performed by area youths who need jobs, said Lohmeyer, who also serves as the county's youth employment coordinator.

The race has generated buzz in the bike community because of the setting, as well as Idaho's growing reputation as a bike destination.

Lohmeyer was a bike tour guide before he visited Salmon four years ago. He bought a house in the community the same weekend.

"I just knew this was where I wanted to be," he said.

Back then, it was all about biking.

Today, Lohmeyer, though as dedicated as ever to racing, has a new cause: promoting tourism in Salmon. Eventually, he hopes the race will spawn a bike festival in the future.

Money raised in last year's race went toward the purchase of a downtown building with a screen-printing business. That business now provides work for three people in the youth employment program, which for the past two decades has provided jobs for those 14 to 25 years old.