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Mountain Biking Rides Into Sports Mainstream

Ex-treme sports (ek streme sports) - 1. High-octane, heart-pounding, nerve-shattering, adrenaline-rushing activity. 2. See also, crazy.

The mountain bike assault on Mount Spokane is back as the mountain will serve as the host for the first stop in the Jeep National Off-Road Bicycling Association National Championship Series.

ESPN, ESPN2, MTV and much of the area’s male population sporting long hair, sideburns and goatees will be on hand. Even Newsweek magazine is taking notice, attending for a story on the rise of extreme sports.

In 1994, the event was the next-to-last run of the Jeep/Norba series. But due to the fact that approximately 49,000 automobiles went in and out of Mount Spokane for the four-day event, Jeep/NORBA selected Mount Spokane for its first stop.

“Last year, we hosted event five in the series and had problems keeping down the dust,” race director Gino Lisiecki said. “This year, with the event in May, we have a whole new challenge; 10 feet of ice and snow at the peak. We expect more national interest in our event since this is where the pace will be set for the leaders of the series.”

Free to spectators, the event will take 1,500 riders about Mount Spokane. Dual slalom competition begins today, cross country starts Friday, downhill competition begins Saturday and the final cross country events wrap up Sunday.

Defending champions John Tomac and Juliana Furtado return, along with professional teams like Dia Compe USA, Diamond Back, Dos Equis Barracuda, Mongoose, Iron Horse and Rock Shox.

A milestone for the sport took place in 1993, when the International Olympic Committee decided to include cross country mountain biking in the Olympic program starting in 1996 at Atlanta.

Annual NORBA membership has more than doubled to 30,000 the past two years.