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Adventure of the week: Two-wheel thrills on Northstar-at-Tahoe courses

If you're a mountain bike racer and want to test your skills, you have two chances this weekend at Northstar-at-Tahoe. Team Big Bear of Big Bear Lake is bringing its California State Mountain Bike Series to Northstar for a downhill race Saturday and a cross-country race Sunday.

Race classes are beginner, sport, expert, semipro (men) and pro. All are open to men and women except the semipro class; entry fees vary.

Organizers also have scheduled Sunday events for the racers of tomorrow: a Junior Olympics short-course race for kids 14 and under ($15 entry fee), a standard junior-course race ($15) and the free "Little Guys" bikes-and-tricycles race for ages 5 and under.

Adult racers must have a current license from the National Off-Road Bicycling Association; a one-day license will be available to racers for $5.

For the downhill, racers will be challenged by advanced trail features such as steep, loose and rocky terrain, rock drops and jumps.

The cross-country course in the resort's mountain bike park contains moderate climbs and technical single-track sections, with some stretches of fire roads for passing.

Racers will use the Village Express and Vista Express chair lifts. Registered contestants will be given time to practice on the courses.

Spectators can catch all the action by taking the Village Express chairlift ($15 hikers-only ticket) and walking over to the base of the Vista chair. From there they can see the Stadium Jump and the finish line.

In winter's wake

* Heavy snow was great for Kirkwood last winter, but now its slow melt is delaying the opening of the Highway 88 resort's mountain bike park to July 16. The trails are on U.S. Forest Service land, and the park cannot open until the ground is firm enough to prevent erosion. For rates and hours, go to www.kirkwood.com.

* A cool June has delayed the start of the popular rafting run on the Truckee River from Fanny Bridge to River Ranch. Until the gates open at the bridge to increase the flow, the Truckee River Raft Co. cannot send its boats down the 4 1/2-mile float. Hopes were high that they would be in the rapids by Monday, but federal water master Garry Stone anticipates that the delay may extend another week.


What: California State Mountain Bike Series

Where: Northstar-at-Tahoe

When: Saturday and Sunday

Registration: For downhill, 4-7 p.m. Friday or 8-10:30 a.m. Saturday For cross-country, 3-5 p.m. Saturday or 7-10 a.m. Sunday.

Requirements: NORBA license (one-day license available, $5)

Practice times: The cross-country course will be open Friday afternoon; the downhill course will be open Saturday morning

Race times: The downhill starts at noon Saturday; cross-country begins at 11 a.m. Sunday

Viewing area: Finish line at base of the Vista chairlift, accessible with hikers-only lift ticket ($15) for the Village Express chairlift and a short walk; also offers a view of the Stadium jump

Parking: Free

Cost: $25 -$43, depending on the race class

Children's events Sunday: Junior Olympic short-course race for kids 14 and under at 10:05 a.m.; "Little Guys" race on trikes or bikes for ages 5 and under at 10:30; standard junior-course race at 11

Info: (800) 466-6784

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