This year there were something north of 90 riders, with a good mix of pros and utter gapers like me. They've built some nice trail in recent years, in part with money raised through this race, and the route includes more and more fun, swoopy singletrack every year. It also includes the annual race-start tour of the Jailhouse Casino.
There's no other way to put it - the riding in Ely is worth the drive and it gets better every year. Whether you're down for the race (Father's Day Weekend every year, and yes the race is kid-friendly) or just trying to beat the heat with some mountain riding, it's hard to go wrong by throwing your bike in the truck and heading to White Pine County.
For those interested in making the trip, Ely native and avid rider Kent Robertson has a quality blog going that has excellent info for would-be MTB visitors. Check it out at www.stuckinthespokes.com.