There are plenty of leisurely trails in Southwestern Pennsylvania to enjoy a calm day of biking on.
But there’s also dozens of forests, state parks and outdoor areas to explore at a slightly faster pace, and an off-road race series to celebrate them in a competitive environment.
Dubbed Month of Mud, the series is a self-proclaimed “race series for racers, by racers.”
“We don’t focus on just one style of racing,” according to the Month of Mud website. “The Month of Mud is a very unique race series.”
Director of the mountain bike race series Ann Burr elaborated that it’s a “homegrown/grass roots race series that takes part in the latter part of September through October.”
“The series consists of five races, generally different types of races as well,” she said. “We do short track, cross country, cyclocross and then Ohiopyle is our downhill race in the series.”
The series itself, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, began back in 1989 with founder Gary Bywaters.
“We welcome racers of all ages and abilities; there are thirteen different classes to choose from,” the website states. All races are held within a 50-mile radius of downtown Pittsburgh, with all races scheduled for Sunday mornings.
Burr noted that the number of participants grows each year, with this year’s participant count close to 200.
“We just completed the second race of the series [Sunday] at Alameda Park in Butler, and our first was at Moraine in Slippery Rock,” Burr said. “Moraine — one of the more technically challenging courses — had around 120 participants. So we have anywhere from 100 to possibly over 200 depending on weather, other events that day, and word-of-mouth.”
This year, three races still remain. Burr noted that the third race is slated for this Sunday at North Park in Allegheny County.
The fourth race this year is close to home, with racers heading to Ohiopyle State Park on Oct. 20. This particular race will start at the high point on McCune Trail and descends to Sugarloaf Trail into town. The website notes that it’s a very cross country bike-friendly course without too much climbing.
Month of Mud officials noted that “racers will be bussed to the race start at the top of McCune Trail from the registration area at Wilderness Voyageurs in Ohiopyle.”
The series wraps up on Oct. 27 with a final race at Brady’s Run Park in Beaver with an 8-mile mountain bike course.
Interested bikers can still register for all of the remaining races online at either www.bikered.com/month-of-mud or www.monthofmud.com. Registration is required, though day-of registration is an option. A small fee is also associated with each race.
Standard rules apply to each race, including mandatory helmets, and no headphones, iPods or MP3 players during races. Points are awarded at each race. Awards will be handed out at the final race.
“Come on out and race or spectate Western Pennsylvania’s most unique bicycle racing series.”