Javelina Chase ‘Omnium’ expands into state championships and mountain bike races

Contributed Photo: The Javelina Chase on May 5-7 will feature Arizona State Championship races as well as a mountain biking event and more.

Contributed Article

Duncan – The Javelina Chase celebrates its fourth year with multiple events in the scenic Gila River Valley around Duncan, Arizona. As in prior years, “The Chase” will feature road races, “gran fondo” fun rides, a closed-course, timed “criterium,” a bike rodeo for kids 3-13, and a 5K walk/run for all ages.

This year, the Javelina Chase expands in two major new directions and adds a festive holiday celebration as well.

The 2017 Arizona State Championship Races in the masters and juniors categories will be held in the Javelina Chase road races. This means that many of Arizona’s most elite cyclists will take off from the starting line with category 1-5 racers and other entrants.

Adding to the excitement is the new “Ghost Mine Rumble” – mountain bike races on 60- and 20-mile courses on spectacular back roads in the mountains north of Duncan. This is the first time the Javelina Chase has offered an event for mountain biking enthusiasts.

Finally, in observance of the Cinco de Mayo weekend, the town of Duncan will host a family fiesta in Centennial Park on Saturday afternoon. There will be food, music, games for children and two javelina piñatas for kids to swing at.

The Javelina Chase Omnium kicks off at the Duncan High School cafeteria from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, May 5, with a pasta dinner prepared by the Duncan Little League. All are welcome, for a charge of $7 a plate.

On Saturday, May 6, all the racers depart from the Greenlee County Fairgrounds following safety meetings and the National Anthem. Ghost Mine Rumble mountain bike racers depart at 7:15 a.m. Road racers (including the masters and juniors) with courses of 72, 50 and 25 miles depart at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Gran Fondo fun riders, with 72-, 50- and 25-mile courses.

The 5K runners and walkers will depart at 8 a.m. Registration for the bike rodeo, a free activity for children 3 to 13, begins at 9:30 a.m.

Awards for the Saturday races will take place at the fairgrounds, beginning at 11 a.m.

Contributed Photo: Don’t miss the fun at this year’s Javelina Chase on May 5-7.

The kids’ bike rodeo, organized by the Duncan PTA, offers a safe, fun course on the fairgrounds for young riders, along with free bike repairs and helmet giveaways. Loaner bikes will be available. Children will be able to see the winning racers fly across the finish line at the fairgrounds.

The Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at Centennial Park, on U.S. Highway 70, will begin at 3 p.m. Local families and visitors are all welcome. Anyone interested in assisting the town of Duncan with this celebration should call the Duncan Town Hall at 928-359-2791.

On Sunday morning, May 7, the “Criterium” brings competitive riders onto a closed course on Old Virden Road, Virden Road and a short stretch of Highway 75. Spectators are encouraged to come sit in bleachers on Old Virden Road to cheer for the riders as they pass. The first round of the Criterium begins at 7:30 a.m. At 10:30 a.m., there will be a break and an awards ceremony on Old Virden Road. And at 11:15 a.m., there will be a second round of the Criterium. At 3:30 p.m., on Old Virden Road, there will be a final awards ceremony for the Criterium and Omnium.

Cyclists and 5K participants may register at www.SWSportsREG.com. Further information on all events is available at www.javelinachase.com.

The all-volunteer committee overseeing the Javelina Chase is seeking more volunteers to assist with road preparation, parking, water hand-outs and “spotting” at the criterium. To sign up email javchaseaz@gmail.com.

Sponsors from the neighboring cities of Safford, Morenci and Lordsburg and Silver City, New Mexico, have given generously to help make the omnium a success.

Each year, the Javelina Chase organizers approach property owners along the routes about dogs. If loose dogs chase bicycles traveling at high speeds there can be devastating consequences, especially with groups of cyclists. The organizers ask for property owners’ cooperation in keeping all dogs contained on May 6 and 7 from at least from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to ensure the safety of riders, spectators and pets.

Greenlee County is one of the most remote, least populated and least known parts of the Southwest. Stretched along Arizona’s eastern border where the Gila and San Francisco rivers flow in from New Mexico, the entire county tallies only two stoplights, both near the massive open copper pit mine in Morenci. Five miles from the New Mexico border along the Gila River, there isn’t even a stop sign on scenic U.S. Highway 70 as it passes through the town of Duncan. But in part because of that remoteness, and in part because of the ups and downs of the river valley highways, Duncan is building some notoriety as a cycling destination. For more information on Duncan see The Simpson Hotel website at http://www.simpsonhotel.com/about-the-region-duncan.php.