Short is sweet.
The American Orthopedics Association/Durango Junior Development (DEVO) Short Track Series begins with today's races and runs until Aug. 26 at the Fort Lewis College factory trails.
The course, which will be tweaked between races, will not move around town from week to week, as it did for last year's inaugural series.
The goal of the series, beyond family entertainment, is to raise money for Chad Cheeney's DEVO club, which not only will participate, but help run the event - from registering racers to setting up the course.
"The kids will get to see how to work an event," Cheeney said. "It's good for them to learn that it's not that hard."
Cheeney estimates attendance will vary between 40 and 80, saying interest appears to be up from last year, when 30 racers would show on a typical day.
From kids in first grade to adults ages 50-60, the series gives mountain bike enthusiasts a reason to gear up - or down, as need be - in the lazy summer months.
"A lot of other towns have been doing this quite a while," Cheeney said. "All the other cool mountain towns have held weekly town races."
Cheeney said Durango used to have a weekly series on Chapman Hill, but it was "a pretty painful course," going straight up and down the hill. This series will provide a little more entertainment, Cheeney believes.
"It's a really fun spectator sport," Cheeney said. "It's really action-packed. Even if you don't want to watch all the racing, just come walk around in the woods for a little while."
Short track racing involves a shorter track on a cross-country mountain bike course, with laps averaging 2-6 minutes, Cheeney said.
This year's course features a combination of open dirt roads, lots of corners and a little single track, "for fun," Cheeney said.
The races will run similar to a criterium, where there is a set amount of time - in this case, 25 minutes.
"It's so short, everybody just goes really fast the whole time," Cheeney said.
DEVO races, to the contrary, last from 1 ½ to 2 hours and involve more team movements.
Yet the short track series was originally designed, before it was opened to the public, to improve the club racers' abilities.
"It's really good training, it teaches you how to generate power," Cheeney said.
The DEVO team, for children ages 6-19, is in its fourth year of competition and has grown from 10 bikers to more than 100.
The team was launched by Sarah Tescher and Cheeney, who rode with Miller Middle School students and decided to give them a training organization to rival those in other sports.
"There's a lot of group road activities, not really a lot of organized mountain biking," Cheeney said.
"The motivation was that growing up and racing, I saw junior racers burn out too young all the time, and I thought it was such a training thing."
"You don't really know how to train right. You see adults doing intervals all the time and you think 'I have to do that to be good.'"
For Cheeney, there was a better reason to compete.
"We really made a point of making it a fun program with the main purpose of growing lifelong cyclists."
A $10 per race charge at the short track series will benefit the DEVO program.
Registration is available 30 minutes prior to races, which start at 5:30 for B's (sport/beginner), 6 p.m. for kids and 6:30 p.m. for A's (pro expert).
Cheeney also will be keeping track of overall points for the first time this year, awarding a series winner.