Sedona CALLAHAN, Writer

 

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Do What You Love. The Money Will Follow.

By Sedona Callahan

786 words

Boris Lyubner arrived in the United States from his native Russia seventeen years ago with $300 and a single suitcase. Lyubner’s purpose was to be able to make a decent living for his family.

On June 24th Lyubner, as founder and coordinator of The Endurance 100 Mountain Bike Race [E 100], kicked off the first of E 100’s three summer mountain biking events in Park City. He’s still not making much money. “I do it for the love of biking,” said Lyubner.

Lyubner, a graphic artist, wasn’t a biking enthusiast until moving to Park City from his previous home in San Francisco, where he worked hard, smoked too much, and was overweight. But new friends in Utah began giving him a hard time, challenging him to take up mountain biking. “Any ride in Park City starts going up, and every switchback is killing you, but slowly you see the progress and that is very inspiring,” said Lyubner, now fit and 40 pounds lighter.

He was motivated to create a series of local mountain bike races when during competitions [Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race] in Colorado his family said there was nothing for them to do while he raced and didn’t want to return for future events. Lyubner saw Park City as a hidden treasure, beautiful and desirable as an outdoor summer destination, with more than 100 miles of connected single-track mountain trails, 18,000 vertical foot gain, and an entertainment and tourist infrastructure already in place.

Now in its third year, the E100 kicked off this year’s trio of races with a 12-hour race, and will be followed by a Team Relay 50-mile solo on July 22nd, closing with the 100-mile solo on August 26th.

The Endurance 100 started in 2004 as a single race, expanded to a three-tiered event in 2005, and will add a fourth race in 2007. The event has already caught the attention of nationally acclaimed riders, and next year Lyubner expects to attract international professional racers, through a concentrated system of advertising and high-end sponsors. Cannondale Bicycle Corporation chose The E 100 August Solo event as “the Toughest MTB 100 mile race in the country,” bringing great editorial exposure, and Lyubner has secured a marketing agreement with SUBARU USA as the event’s presenting sponsor.

Until just a few years ago, long distance mountain bike racing wasn’t viable in Park City because of the ragged trail development that existed in the mountains encircling the town. But with the newly developed mountain trail system, mountain biking is poised as the next athletic event to bring the tourists back in the summer. Momentous advocacy and hours and hours of local government meetings led to a wide-spread acceptance of trails as part of the exploding development in Park City, according to Carol Potter, executive director of Mountain Trails Foundation. Potter notes that in the past twelve years Summit County’s purpose-built trail system has grown overall from 10 to over 300 miles. Park City Mayor Dana Williams adds that the city emphasizes athletic activities that are sustainable [don’t negatively impact the environment] and biking fits into that category. “We can be a Mecca for high altitude sports throughout the year,” says Williams, with City Council member Marianne Cone concurring with his enthusiasm for increasing cycle racing events in Park City. “It’s a huge possibility. We want to be a world-destination for all kinds of sports.”

Headlining other scheduled trail races this summer, the National Off-Road Bicycle Association [NORBA] held its 10th annual championship series for four days in July, drawing in more than 2000 amateur and professional riders. Deer Valley Resort hosts the fourth stop on the national series, one of nine chosen mountain biking venues for its competition.

Stage 6 of the Tour of Utah, a road bike event, winds 114 miles through the Wasatch Range, involving 17,000 feet of climbing. Racers will journey from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City to Park City, ride south to Midway then head west for another series of mountain climbs. While Park City isn’t in the spotlight during this event, surrounding Summit County gets collateral exposure through the camera lenses streaming images of front-running racers to evening news programs, with scenic vistas as backdrop. Bob Kollar, Director of Special Events for the Park City Chamber Bureau and the City of Park City says, “The Tour of Utah is modeled after the Tour de France. And just as people see the flower fields and cobblestone streets in that background, they will see the beauty of this area and want to come here.”

Just as Lyubner did seventeen years ago.

Published in Salt Lake City Weekly, 3 August 2006 under title Happy Trails