Kalmes, Rench top Town Challenge bike race at Marabou | SteamboatToday.com

Kalmes, Rench top Town Challenge bike race at Marabou

Koby Vargas rides at the front of a small pack Wednesday during a Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series event at Marabou Ranch.
Joel Reichenberger

Find full results from the race here.

Peter Kalmes stood near the finish line and reflected on his past 12 months as they relate to mountain bike racing and the great success he has enjoyed in that span.

Someone rolled by and hollered out, “Did you win?”

Considering Kalmes’ run of victories, it might have been a silly question. There were other clues, though.

“Of course you did,” the questioner said, continuing without a response. “You’re the only one not covered in dust.”

Indeed, winning does come with its perks.

The Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series drifted outside Steamboat Springs for a race on the Marabou Ranch on Wednesday, drawing 207 riders for the annual but rare opportunity to ride that estate’s private mountain bike trails.

Kalmes won a battle at the top of the men’s pro division, locking up his second Town Challenge victory in as many tries this season and adding another win to what’s been a great past 12 months.

In that span, Kalmes has gone from one of the top men in the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series to the tiptop, the big dog, the man to beat.

“I haven’t really thought about it like that,” he said, grinning wide before he considered the idea of emerging at the end of the summer as the season champ. “That would be huge. That would be one of the best things.”

He finished in 49 minutes, 57 seconds, ahead of Trevor Walz, who led for sections but lost ground later, second at 51:12, and Alex Pond, third at 52:32.

Even the winner wasn’t immune to the clouds of dust that swirled as the stampede of Steamboat Springs cyclists took to the trails, especially when he started out behind some of the top riders in his class.

“It hurt,” Kalmes said. “You cough a little, and by the end, everyone was hacking it up. The hardest part is being able to see when you’re in the groove.”

Women’s expert champion Kate Rench said finding air to breathe served as motivation, at least until she caught up to the men’s class in front of her. She finished in 1:02:44, followed closely by Katie Lindquist at 1:04:41 and Becky Sears at 1:07:00.

“That dust was the main thing that made me go fast,” Rench said, somewhat facetiously considering she’s gone 2-0 so far this season.

Rider after rider came through the finish looking like they’d been rolled in a construction site, the clean areas that had been covered by sunglasses and the whites of their eyes standing in stark contrast to their seemingly melanin-infused skin everywhere else.

That did little to blunt the excitement many expressed about riding in Marabou’s rarified air. The trail offered an entirely different challenge from the grinding tests of Mount Werner and even Emerald Mountain.

“It’s not up, then down,” Rench said. “It’s up, down, around and through the woods. You’re constantly changing your gears. It really keeps you on your toes.”

The trail system was open to the public for two weeks leading up to Wednesday’s event and many of the racers took part, getting in practice rides and soaking up the once-a-summer opportunity.

Wednesday capped that stretch of fun.

“It was dirty and it was slippery in spots,” said Amy Zutterling, a six-year veteran of the races, “but it was fun. These are the trails we don’t get to ride all year around, so this is a really nice treat. It’s more of a traditional cross-country race, and I love cross-country.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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