Bike Guide 2012: Marquee Steamboat cycling events |

Bike Guide 2012: Marquee Steamboat cycling events

— Last year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge is far from the only bicycling event hanging its helmet in Steamboat. This summer’s cycling season offers plenty of other pedaling events to take part in.

Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series

Rare does an event better solidify the local cycling scene than Steamboat’s annual Town Challenge Race Series. Held every summer, the seven-race series offers hill-climb and cross-country events with a whopping 24 categories, from pro/open and three different age groups for men’s and women’s expert, sport and novice divisions to kids categories and even singlespeed. Points are awarded for each race (best six of seven), with the results tallied for top bragging rights at a raucous party at season’s end. Riders can register ahead of time online or at the city’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department office, or on-site on race day. This year’s events will be held May 30, June 13, June 27, July 11, July 25, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22. “It’s become more popular than ever,” says series organizer Gretchen Sehler, whose events draw as many as 200 riders each week. “It’s a super fun time and great way to bring local riders together.”

Tour de Steamboat

When mountain bike hall of famer Kent Eriksen first brought the Tour de Steamboat into existence, it was a motley collection of 80 riders pedaling a 50-mile loop to Oak Creek and back. Now, thanks to local sponsorship from Prudential Steamboat Realty, it draws as many as 1,000 riders each year and benefits the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which brings children with cancer to Steamboat for a week of fun. Co-organized by Eriksen’s wife, Katie Lindquist, the noncompetitive event offers rides of three distances, including a 40-mile Stagecoach ride, family-friendly Yampa River Core Trail ride and the infamous 110-mile Gore Gruel, which takes riders from Steamboat over Rabbit Ears and Gore passes and back. “It’s a great event for a great cause,” says Eriksen, who often rides it tandem with Katie. “The Sunshine Kids program adds quality of life to children with cancer by giving with exciting, positive group activities so they can do what kids are supposed to do — have fun and celebrate life.” This year’s eighth annual event will be held July 21. Info:

Ride 4 Yellow

On the philanthropic front, few events rival the Ride 4 Yellow, a 26-mile mountain bike ride put on by the 4 Yellow Foundation to help raise money to fight cancer globally and locally. As a Livestrong grassroots event, the Steamboat event provides funding for cancer support locally through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. In its inaugural year in 2010, the event featured 200 cyclists of all abilities, including cycling legend Lance Armstrong, and raised more than $300,000.

The ride is limited to the first 200 cyclists who pledge to raise at least $250. The group provides riders with the tools necessary to help raise funds, and riders can join as an individual or a team.

“It’s a great event that’s really taken off,” says co-organizer Kerry Shea, adding that it was started by passionate riders who wanted to help make a difference in the fight against cancer. “The support has been tremendous.”

Now in its third year, the 2012 Ride 4 Yellow will take place Saturday, July 28, and again send riders on the 26-mile single-track of the Continental Divide Trail. Info:

Steamboat Stinger

If last year’s inaugural Steamboat Stinger was any indication, riders are in for a healthy dose of punishment Emerald Mountain-style again this year. Last year, nearly 300 mountain bikers showed up to race 50 miles up and over Emerald Mountain, not once, but twice, grinding up frontside trails and then down the Ridge trail and back up the Beall trail in a two-loop circuit. Sponsored and organized by local energy food company Honey Stinger, this year’s event on Aug. 11 to 12 again will offer solo and duo divisions and also add half and full marathon trail races as part of the Steamboat Springs Running Series. As many as 400 mountain bike and 400 runner spots are available.

“Racing is in our DNA at Honey Stinger so we decided to promote the great trails we have so close to town by launching the event last year,” says Honey Stinger’s Len Zanni. “After our first successful year, we figured a trail race on the same weekend made sense too. It’s going to be a big weekend party.”

As far as who to beat, riders better eat plenty of Honey Stinger waffles and chews if they hope to unseat last year’s winners Alex Grant and Katie Compton. Info:

Steamboat Enduro

Yeti Cycles and subsidiary Bigfoot Productions are bringing its Big Mountain Enduro Series to Steamboat on Aug. 17 and 18. “This year marks the arrival of America’s Enduro scene,” says organizer Keith Darner. Aimed at all-mountain riders, the Steamboat portion of the series follows the 26-mile Continental Divide Trail from Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat Ski Area and is expected to draw more than 200 riders. Other events in the series include a race over Kennebec Pass in Durango (Sept. 1 and 2) and the Whole Enchilada Enduro in Moab, Utah, on Sept. 29 and 30. Entry fees are $150 and include post race meal/party, socks, T-shirt, sweatshirt and day-of-race shuttle. “They’re all designed to be backcountry experiences and in-line with the events that set the stage for American enduro racing like the Downieville Classic,” Darner says. “The whole premise is enduro racing on raw backcountry trails. Finally, enduro racing is coming about in the U.S. a bit more.” Info:

Steamboat Stage Race

The idea for the Steamboat Stage Race started when founder Corey Piscopo moved to town in 2008 and saw an opportunity for a new event on Labor Day weekend. He envisioned a bike event that would draw racers from across Colorado as well as encourage new road racers in Steamboat.

Its uniqueness stems from its stage race format, similar to the Tour de France, which requires racers to compete in all four stages/days of racing. “On top of that, it offers 10 different racing categories for men and women, based on age and ability, with equal prize money for the Pro men and women’s fields, which isn’t very common in bike racing,” Piscopo says. Last year’s highlights included the biggest junior field yet and saw longtime pro racer Scott Moniger win the men’s Pro 1/2 race and Kasey Clark with the women’s 1/2/3 race.

This year’s fourth annual stage race is slated for Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. “The first three years have been pretty awesome with pro riders racing alongside local racers,” Piscopo says, adding that this year’s event should draw nearly 400 competitors to the hills and streets of Steamboat.

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