Mountain races serve as ambassador

Oak Mountain State Park is Shelby County’s finest attraction to those who love being outdoors. Its wildlife and scenery make a trip to the park a favorite for many triathletes and professional mountain bikers this time every year.

Last Thursday, I visited with a few of the top off-road triathletes in the world before the XTERRA Southeast Cup, which took place Saturday.

Every year, top male pro Conrad Stotlz talks about how much he loves coming to Oak Mountain because of its scenery and enjoys Alabama because of our hospitality.

We hear comments like this all the time, but I’m not sure if it really sinks in, what these compliments to our community and county’s resources really mean.

Stoltz is from South Africa and has traveled all over the world. He’s seen a lot of place that we may dream of visiting, but coming to the south for some hushpuppies is a favorite.

This is coming from a guy who likes to show photos of bison eating antelope on his farm in South Africa. He talks about elephants close to his home, and no, he’s not referring to Crimson Tide football fans.

Another person who has loved coming to this park every year for the past four years has been XTERRA Vice President Trey Garman. Garman, a Hawaii resident, was unable to attend the race this year and talked with me about how much he hated he’d not be in Alabama, because he visiting Shelby County.

This week more international pros and Olympians will be in the park for the 15th annual BUMP and Grind. These racers don’t just love what they do, but love being here to compete.

If you’ve never made it out to the beach area at the park for one of these events, do so this weekend. Load up the kids and their bikes and get ready for some racing. Be sure to stop by Blood Rock to see who will flip their bike first.