KINGMAN - Coming from New Jersey, Barbara Tarin needed to find an outdoor activity to replace skiing, something easy on her joints, and mountain biking seemed like a natural choice in Arizona.
She'd seen riders along the road and they looked cool in their sleek, colorful outfits and they were always in great shape.
One day Tarin stopped into Bicycle Outfitters on Stockton Hill Road and bought her beginner bike, a Specialized Myka for about $1,500. She also found a new group of friends in the Bicycle Outfitters club.
"It's just great to be outside and the mountain bike community is so friendly," said Tarin, a five-year Kingman resident and owner of Fruit Creations. "They don't leave anybody behind. This is mountain biking, not road biking. They're different riders."
Tarin will be competing in the 2nd Annual Rattler Mountain Bike Race Saturday at Monolith Gardens, which has grown from about 75 riders last year to more than 100 this year.
Racers came from Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and as far away as Utah last year to compete in a number of categories, from a 2.5-mile race for children to a 31-mile run for advanced adult cyclists.
The course is specifically prepared for riders of all levels, with an inner loop for beginners to work on their technique.
"Getting over rocks and not falling, not crashing. Going up uphill and going downhill, going through switchbacks. Climbing ... that's my weakness," said Tarin, who will be racing in the beginner class for women 40-49.
Entry fees ($40) and other proceeds from the race go to the Colorado River Area Trail Alliance, a nonprofit organization that builds and maintains trails and promotes mountain biking. Race day registration is from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., with the first race at 9 a.m.
Go to www.bikereg.com/29075/RATTLER-RACE for more information.
"This is our second year and every year it's going to get bigger," Tarin said. "A lot of people come from Vegas, California. One guy is from Ohio. "
Tarin is making monster marshmallow pops and chocolate-covered pretzels for kids 10 and under, and hand-made medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each class.
CRATA board chairman Scott O'Donnell said the group was established a couple of years ago as a chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association, opening the Rattler Race to other mountain bike clubs throughout the Southwest.
"Mountain biking in general is a huge economic impact for the community, wherever these races go," said O'Donnell, a Category II racer. "A lot of effort goes into this race and it also lets people know Kingman is here and there's good mountain biking. Stop and spend the night and make it a destination."
A 2013 statewide report from Arizona Department of Transportation estimated direct and indirect economic contributions of $30.6 million and more than 400 jobs related to bicycle tourism.
At least 250 events attract about 14,000 participants from outside the state.
O'Donnell said he enjoys the camaraderie of other mountain bikers and getting a close look at the unique desert terrain.
"One thing people don't realize driving down U.S. 93 is you don't see the special rock formations and the vistas you get back in there," he said.