Dirt Rag Magazine

New event brings mountain bike stage race to Haiti

Photos by Steve Z.

MTB Ayiti is billing itself as the first international cycling event in Haiti. Ayiti literally means “land of mountains” and is the perfect backdrop for a unique event that combines a once-in-a-lifetime cultural immersion experience with the opportunity to build the foundation for a sustainable adventure tourism industry.

Race promotoers have announced a line-up that includes big names like Hans Rey, Marla Streb, Ruthie Mathes, and Sonya Looney. General registration is now open and offers a unique opportunity for inspired amateurs to ride alongside icons and legends. There will also be 15 racers from the Leogane Cycling Club, a local team that has produced several national champions in Haiti.

Participants can expect a world class course designed by Race Director Rick Sutton, a co-founder of the Sea Otter Classic and Plus 3 Network, and Steve Zdawczynski, a former national age-group champion. Advisors include Stephanie Villedrouin (Minister of Tourism, Haiti), Steve Whisnant (Managing Director for US Olympic Committee), Chris Kehmeier (IMBA Trail Specialist) and Elayna Caldwell (Marketing Director, Interbike).

The first two ‘stages’ of this unique race format are ecosystem building days. Participants will build a bike rental shop, map trails, and train mechanics to help kick start recreational mountain biking. Biking begins with Stage 3. Starting in front of the former National Palace, riders will be escorted through Port au Prince to the base of the climbs, where they will ascend more than 8,000 feet before reaching La Visite National Park, a vast protected forest with awe-inspiring views.

The final day starts with a 15-mile single track course followed by a 6,000-foot descent and a sprint along the coast into Jacmel, where riders will be greeted by thousands of revelers celebrating Carnival. Total distance over 3 stages (2 days) is estimated at 75 miles.

The race will be held January 29 – February 3, 2013.  The registration fee (all inclusive except for flights) is $1,599. There are daily direct flights into Port au Prince from Miami, Atlanta, and NYC. Winners will have a bike provided in their name to a Haitian village by Wheels4Life. Registration is strictly capped at 75 participants.Event details, maps, photos and video can be found on the website at mtbayiti.org

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