WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Registration has begun for the annual Man vs. Machine bike race. After two successful years in 2015 and 2016, Man vs. Machine bike race returns to Williams Sept. 30.
The race pits cyclists against a 1900s-era steam engine in a 54-mile race from Tusayan to Williams. Man vs. Machine is a one day, one way road bike event that begins at the Grand Hotel in Tusayan near the edge of the Grand Canyon’s south rim and travels south to Williams.
This year’s event will break the tie after the steam engine beat the cyclists in 2015, and the cyclists beat the train in 2016.
The race, hosted by Grand Canyon Racing and sponsored by the Grand Canyon Railway, has seen cyclists from across the country compete in the race to Williams against the Grand Canyon Railway steam train.
“(It is) one of the most unique outdoor sporting events in the Southwest,” said Patrick Bohrman on the Grand Canyon Racing website. “See the Grand Canyon, race a steam locomotive to historic Route 66, custom trophies, great swag and amazing after party beer festival and live music. This event has everything.”
Tucson cyclists Rob Alvarez, Nathan Franklin and Brian Forbes swept the podium at the 2016 Man vs. Machine event. Alvarez finished in 1:54, Franklin in 1:55:14, and Forbes in 1:55:46. Amy Chandos of St. David won the women’s race in 1:56:16. The racers all beat the train by 15 minutes.
In 2015, Constantine Schreiber of Tempe won the men’s race in 2:19:08. Jennifer Schuknecht of Scottsdale won the women’s race in 2:28:17.
Prior to the 2015, the race had not been completed since 1993 when professional rider Krzysztof Wiatr led a pack of 51 riders who finished ahead of the locomotive to win the race. Wiatr beat the steam train by 15 minutes and later went on to win the U.S. National Criterium title in 1993.
There were 260 competitors in 2015.
On race day, cyclists will take on Grand Canyon Railway’s steam engine No. 29 for a 54-mile ride that has a 2,023-foot elevation change.
Cyclists will leave the Grand Hotel at 11 a.m. and head south on Highway 64 for 51 miles before ending up on historic Route 66 for the final three miles. The finish line will be on Second Street and Route 66 in Williams near the Route 66 Zipline.
Local and state law enforcement, including Coconino County Sheriff’s Department, Arizona Highway Patrol and the Williams Police Department will provide security for the race. Over 60 volunteers help put on the race.
Proceeds from the event will go toward the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Williams High School cycling team and Williams Young Life.
The race is open to all types of racers. It is capped at four hours. There will be three stops on the route to provide food and water, and a medical services team will be on site.
Registration for the race is $75 before July 31, and $85 between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30. Teams of five or more receive 20 percent off registration fees and will be entered into the team championship.
Following the race, Grand Canyon Railway invites everyone to enjoy live music, food and a beer garden (with beverages available for purchase) at a post-race party at the Babbitt-Polson Pavillion between the Williams Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Canyon Railway. The finish line post-race party celebrates the 90th anniversary of Route 66. It is sponsored by Grand Canyon Brewery and is family friendly, open to cycling enthusiasts, athletes’ friends and family and to the public.
Over $5,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded among the top three finishers of the men’s and women’s division.
Grand Canyon Railway is selling round-trip tickets for those interested in riding the train during the race.
Tickets are available only by calling 1-800-thetrain or by purchase the day of the race at the Williams Train Depot ticket counter.
More information and registration for the bike race can be found at www.grandcanyonracing.com.