PITTSBURG -- Mountain biking teams from eight California universities will be coming to town Sunday for a competition that will launch a new bike park in the hills south of the city.

The Bailey Bike Park on Bailey Road will be the only park dedicated to mountain biking in the East Bay, after courses in Livermore and Brentwood closed in the past year, said Rann Valdez, the park operator and president of Concord-based Stone Racing, a mountain biking and road racing club.

Valdez, with help from the UC Berkeley cycling team, has built two event courses, with more on the way.

"We're leasing the land from a friend of mine," Valdez said. "We have about 25 acres up there."

The Sunday collegiate competition will include teams from UC campuses in Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, along with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Chico State, Humboldt State, Stanford and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Other riders will compete in National Off-Road Bicycle Association-sanctioned races.

The event includes competitions in three men's and two women's categories over a cross country course that includes hills and obstacles, and on side-by-side downhill courses where pairs of riders compete to see who can get down the hill first, said race director Stephen Jayanathan, a member of the UC Berkeley team.

"We're expecting from eight to 10 riders per school," said Elliott Taylor, Valdez's partner in the venture. "For our open races, we're expecting anywhere from 300 to 500 competitors."

The Cal team has been helping Valdez and Stone Racing club members create the park this summer. They used a bulldozer to move dirt for the jumps and obstacles but did most of the work using picks and shovels, Jayanathan said.

"The UC Berkeley team is providing most of the labor," he said. "We've probably put in 150 to 200 man-hours with the (bulldozer)."

Sunday's event will be the second of eight meets on the West Collegiate Cycling Conference schedule this fall, with the other events at different locations sponsored by the seven other schools. The teams compete in road-race cycling in the spring.

Valdez and Taylor plan to sell memberships to riders who use the park regularly.

The park will be open on weekends at first and expand to weekdays as interest increases, Taylor said.

Mountain biking has expanded rapidly in popularity in the past 30 years and now has nearly 40 million participants annually, according to USA Cycling of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Participation peaked in 2001, and has remained relatively steady since, according to the USA Cycling website.

Valdez's team, Stone Racing, has 30 members. He hopes to recruit more after the park opens.

"We're hoping to get a few hundred members in the next year or two," he said.

Contact Rick Radin at 925-779-7166.

If YOU GO
WHAT: Collegiate and open mountain biking competition
WHEN: Registration 7:30 a.m., competition 9 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: Bailey Bike Park, 1200 Bailey Road, Pittsburg