As Corbin Gudgell, 15, crossed the finish line of the Kerrville Mountain Bike Festival, he let out a smile — victory. He had just won the 22-mile Category 2 race at Kerrville Schreiner Park.
Gudgell, who hails from Lake City, was one of many winners on the day.
However, the real winner may be Kerrville, with another festival to add to its growing endurance event collection to test Texas competitors.
"We want to show off our community and this beautiful park," said Lisa Nye-Salladin, who, along with her husband, Adam, and friend David Appleton, put together the event.
Previously, the race was called the Camp Eagle Classic, and it has been around in some form since 1998, but this was the first one held in Kerrville. Sunday's final day attracted more than 100 riders to tackle the challenging 11-mile loop around Schreiner Park — filled with switchbacks and some hairpin turns.
In Category 2, riders covered 22 miles, two legs, and Gudgell covered the first leg in 45-minutes, 34 seconds — among the fastest of the day.
"The last parts uphill got really tiring," Gudgell said, who finished the 22-mile course in 1:33.37.
For the Salladins, who own Hill Country Bicycle Works, this is part of a long effort to turn Schreiner Park into a mountain biking hotspot. The couple, along with Appleton, have put long hours into mapping out riding spots and trails and then building them.
With ample parking and space, especially along Bandera Highway, Nye-Salladin said the future could be very bright for mountain biking in the Hill Country.
"We've been part of the mountain biking community in Texas for 26 years," Nye-Salladin said. "The response has been really good. This venue is awesome. We always thought that was the case. I think it will really grow."