I-Cup MTB Racing Series | Course Overviews

Course Overview From the Pros


The biggest challenge at Snowbird that’s on everyone’s mind is altitude. With the course starting at 8000 ft and going up from there, you want to be careful of the efforts you put out, especially at the start. Putting out your normal start effort can cause your body to never fully recover for the rest of the race. There just isn’t enough oxygen coming into your body to replenish your muscles. Keeping your zones just a touch under normal capacity will keep you stronger for longer.

Also, if you are coming from much lower elevation and/or struggle with racing at high elevation, the best thing to do the night before is sleep at as low elevation as possible. This will give your body more oxygen while sleeping and the lack of being acclimated won’t take as much of a toll on you.


The start at Snowbird is unique. It is a wide fire road climb, but doesn’t last long. About 1/4 mile up you hit single track where passing is very limited for a bit. It consists of short, punchy climbs and techy little corners where if you aren’t paying attention to your foot placing, it’s easy to clip a rock here and there. It’s also important to go into this single track start in a good position. Someone unfamiliar with the terrain or someone who bonks in the elevation can end up holding you back while others sneak away.

The Climb

After the first section of single track you drop back down close to the start line where the course opens up again. A few tight turns and a short descent leads you into the main climb of the race course. This is a true climbers dream section! It is a sustained climb about 2 miles long climb. It consists of well built switchbacks, that snake in out out of the mountain side. Finding a good rhythm and focusing on your pedal stroke and breathing will pay off here.

The Descent

Steep at times and technical at times. There is also quite a bit of runoff here which causes mud on the backside. The muddiest spots are usually in tight switchbacks, so it’s good to pre-ride to know where you need to be more cautious. You will also come across tree roots and sharp rocks. Line selection is key. When coming up to a tree root, it’s best to get your speed prior, and roll over the roots when your not pedaling. Trying to pedal over them can cause you to spin out, and lunge you forward. Rock shards find there way into some of the double track openings half way down the descent and can slice your sidewall. Watch your speed and pick the smoothest most traveled lines in the sections.

One last painful climb to the next lap/finish

After one of the funnest descents in the series, you will come to one last grunt that lasts longer than you’d expect on your way back to the next lap/finish line. It starts by taking you up a steep fire road at about an 15% grade. Shortly after the course takes a hard left hand turn back into single track. You’ll drop into a bridge crossing that shoots you into a semi-tricky rock section that’s a climb. This is a section I recommend making sure you check out as well. Line selection is key. Many end up unclipping. Riding it will save you some valuable time. The rest of the single track climb to the finish is quite flowy and fun, but you will come across quite a few tree roots here as well. This eventually opens up and connects back into the original fire road climb that starts the race.

Staying focused on what’s ahead and maintaining your efforts what I always reiterate to myself throughout the course. It also doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for moose and deer that might get in your way!

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