Racing in the desert: Responsibility a key focus for Bookcliff Rattlers
Adventure seekers can find just about anything to fuel their adrenaline rush on the Western Slope, from mountain biking world-class trails to kayaking or rafting the Colorado or Gunnison rivers.
The Bookcliff Rattlers Motorcycle Club has been enjoying the public lands as an organization for the past 12 years.
The Rattlers are a group of 120 motorcycle riders who share the hobby of desert dirt bike racing.
“We get together and promote desert racing,” club President Thomas Hundtoft said. “But we also promote responsible racing and responsible use of our public land.”
The majority of the desert dirt bike riding and racing takes place from 27 1/4 to 29 Roads on the north side of Interstate 70. Hundtoft said the area provides plenty of riding opportunities.
“It’s a very popular riding area and we need that riding area,” Hundtoft said. “Our desert is unique. It’s a large area, it disperses riders well and the land can handle the riding.”
The group’s big events of the year are the two Snakebite Hare Scrambles — one in the spring and fall. This year’s Snakebite Hare Scramble in March attracted 250 riders.
Hare scrambles are a recognized type of off-road racing where contestants complete multiple laps around a marked course and the winner is the racer who maintains the highest speed throughout the event.
Chas Burbridge has finished first in the pro division the past three years. In March, he won by completing seven laps, averaging 32.91 mph.
“We try to make sure our race courses are fast, fun and safe,” Hundtoft said. “We have kids as young as 4 riding in our events all the way up to 60 years plus.”
Hundtoft said the important thing about the races to the club is to offer an affordable way to race off-road.
“It’s not a cheap hobby and we try to provide an economical race,” Hundtoft said. “Typically, entry fees can average about $100, and our race costs $30.”
Hundtoft said the Rattlers’ hare scramble has been gaining popularity since the first race in 1998.
“It’s been regionally recognized as a good hare scramble,” Hundtoft said. “We get rides from Montana, Utah, Arizona.”
The Rattlers also sponsor an enduro race, which tests riders’ ability against the clock. The Rattlers run their enduro every other year in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Their next enduro race is in 2011.
“Enduro racing is a rally for motorcycles,” Hundtoft said. “You have several test sections and you are scored on how well you do going through all of the test sections so it’s really a race against the clock more than a race against other riders.”
Hundtoft said the enduro races are popular, but the club balks at running the races too often to help maintain the land.
“We do it every other year because we don’t want to put a lot of pressure on the trail system that’s just west of Montrose,” Hundtoft said. “We are responsible how we want to use that system.”
Hundtoft said the goal of the club is to eventually host a national enduro event.
Other than sponsoring races, the Rattlers put a lot of focus on keeping the sport of off-road dirt biking alive.
“Not everyone wants their recreation in the same way,” Hundtoft said. “Our focus is racing and creating opportunities for off-road.”
For more information about the Rattlers, go to http://www.bookcliffrattlersmc.org.