Big weekend scheduled for area mountain bikers, trail runners – Jamestown Sun


JAMESTOWN — In the summer of 1997, Craig Kopp had to make a shift in his fitness journey.

“I was a runner at the time,” Kopp said in reflection. “I did road races and I happened to injure myself during that so I started riding bike just to give me something to do.

“I just happened to see a flyer for the Gear Grinder race and I thought to myself — well, how hard can that be? I found out pretty quickly that it was pretty difficult but I enjoyed it so I’ve kept doing it ever since,” he said.

Kopp’s 26th go-around with the Gear Grinder Mountain Bike Race is scheduled for Saturday at Jamestown’s Pipestem Creek Trail located next to the Pipestem Dam, 4 miles north of Jamestown just off Highway 281.

The race is sponsored by the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department and 701 Cycle and Sport, a bike shop out of Bismarck.

Kopp is considered one of the event organizers. He has met with members of the Parks and Recreation Department, other volunteers and 701 Cycle.

The race will once again be held in conjunction with the annual Pipestem Creek Trail Run. The run features a 3-mile walk, a 3-mile run and an 8-mile run. Both races are open to anyone who would like to test his or her running or mountain biking skills.

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The Gear Grinder Mountain Bike Race attempts to target all people who want to learn about or improve their mountain bike skills.

Contributed / Joy Paczkowski

It will be a test.

“Two of those years I would do the run on Saturday and the bike race on Sunday and I quickly convinced myself that that was not a very smart thing to do,” Kopp said. “It can be pretty difficult.”

Interested parties can register online through the

Parks and Rec Department

website through Friday. Day-of registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at Pipestem Creek Trail.

The run and the walk will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday. The kids bike race is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. with all of the other bike races starting at 10 a.m.

“The 3-mile walk and 3-mile trail run are very nice introductions to trail running,” Kopp said. “The trail is very nice, there is maybe one hill with a significant climb on it. The 8-mile run — that’s a pretty stout run. There are seven or eight pretty good-sized hills that you climb. The people who do that are pretty dedicated trail runners.

“It’s the same thing with the cycling,” he said. “There is a kids race and a beginners’ race, then there is a recreational race, there is the sport race which is 21 miles and the expert race which gets to be pretty difficult.”

The beginner, recreational, sport and expert riders will all ride the first 2 miles of the course together behind a pace vehicle. After the first 2 miles, riders participating in the recreational, sport and expert racers will begin riding the same course while the beginners will take a slightly less challenging part of Pipestem.

The beginner race is 6 miles in length. It starts at Pipestem Office and follows gravel to a paved road, then returns on 3.5 miles of North Ridge Trail. Recreational race participants will ride 13.5 miles that follow the Pipestem Creek Trail and gravel and horse trails.

The sport race is 21.5 miles in length. This trail is a combination of the North Ridge Trail and the Pipestem Trail — the most difficult section of the trail. Kopp will be participating in the sport race.

Kopp has participated in the expert race a few different times. The race is 29.5 miles long. It expands on the sport race by adding an extra lap on the Pipestem Creek Trail. There are cash prizes for the top six male and female expert finishers.

“We’ve tried to tailor it so there is something for everyone,” Kopp said. “For the run and the walk we’ve included short and long distances and for the bike we’ve incorporated some difficulty, shorter and longer distances — it’s all there.

“It’s a great event,” he said. “Obviously I’ve been doing it for this long so I enjoy it. We have a lot of fun.”


A mountain biker competes in a past Gear Grinder race.

Contributed / Joy Paczkowski

Katie Ringer

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 701-952-8460.

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