Isn’t it always nice to find money in an old jacket? You know the feeling…. You reach into the pockets to warm up your hands and seem to magically pull out a crisp $20. Well, that is how I felt after hearing about the new MRAP mountain bike race series at Lake Perris. A fun course, put on by a great promoter, at a reasonable cost, all in my backyard.
Here is a map of the course from my race on June 20, courtesy of STRAVA.
For those of you that may have not heard yet, the acronym stands for Mid-week Racing At Perris (technically, it is Lake Perris, but I don’t think MRALP jived as well as MRAP). It is a new mid-week race series (similar to the Over The Hump race series in Orange County at Irvine Lake) in the Inland Empire being put on by Saw Sports Productions. The series is being broken in two by a two week break the first two weeks of July. When they series resumes, rumor has it that many vendors will be out setting up tents showing off their products. It is going to be the place to be.
Saw Sports Productions is a fairly new race promoter. They have been putting on some triathlons (The Big Rock Triathlon) at Lake Perris for a couple years and have recently gotten more into promoting mountain bike races. I believe they have concurrently hosted a few cross country mountain bike races with their in the dirt triathlon series. However, this year, they jumped in head first by adding the Harding truck trail time trial, Conquer the Mountain (Formerly known as The Traverse), and now, the MRAP mountain bike race series.There are several reasons to come out to these MRAP races. One of the biggest reasons is the value. Saw Sports has managed to get the day fee for Lake Perris waved for the mountain bike race. This means you can bring your family down to Lake Perris to hang out by the water, for FREE while you get to go suffer around the course for an hour. The entry fee for the race is very reasonable, too. It is only $20, if you pre-register, and $25, for same day registration. You don’t really get much from registration, just a number plate, but what they don’t advertise are the post-race refreshments you get. It is not much, but you can get a hot dog and Gatorade, plus some other miscellaneous snacks like cookies or chips. I don’t think it’s the same fare at every race, but there has been some food at both of the races I have attended. I hope the keep it up for the entire race series.
In addition, to the registration fee, the select few who are privileged enough to win their category will also receive some nifty prizes. I think the beginner categories have been getting some riding gloves while the sport/expert/pro categories have been getting Jenson USA gift cards. Talk about payout!
Now, onto the race itself….
In my opinion, these races are a little short, but I’d assume that is partially due to the small number of entrants. With only 5-7 people in expert/Pro, it would be a very lonely 3rd lap. If the race series picks up, I’d like to see the Pro/Expert categories doing 3 laps instead of 2.Aside from the distance, the layout of the course is excellent. It starts off flat on open roads/trails, to allow time for everyone to settle into their groups. Then, it narrows into a sandy singletrack trail. From there, it rolls along for a minute or two before you get to recover on a fast downhill fireroad. You make a sharp right onto some more rolling singletrack and traverse through a very picturesque field. Before you know it, you hop across a street (armed with crossing guards directing traffic just for you) and start the main climb. It is steep, but luckily, it doesn’t last too long and rewards you with a very fun, twisty, semi-technical descent. From the bottom, the course twists and turns a bit on primarily rolling terrain until you end up back at the finish line.
The MRAP race series at Lake Perris is very affordable, fun races put on by a great race promoter and sponsored by one of the biggest mail order companies out there. It may be small now, but once the advertising picks up and the word is spread about this race, I believe we will start seeing some pretty fast riders show up that will be putting on some intense battles for those top podium (and payout) spots.