24-hour race just days away | SteamboatToday.com

24-hour race just days away

Katie Lindquist’s responsibilities as one of the founders of the inaugural Rio Grande 24 Hours of Steamboat will prevent her from competing this weekend.

Lindquist, a veteran of 24-hour races, will be in charge of several posts, freeing up the nearly 200 registered bikers to ascend and descend Mount Werner’s trails without fear that the professional rider and coach will come whizzing by.

After many months of making and finalizing plans, the Rio Grande 24 Hours of Steamboat is set to begin at noon Saturday, and the race has come together much better than even Lindquist expected.

“It is going to be epic that the ski area overlooks the town,” Lindquist said. “I wish I was doing it. I think it’s going to be neat to see.”

For the race to take place, Lindquist and co-organizers Brad Cusenbarry and Gretchen Sehler needed the U.S. Forest Service and the Steamboat Ski Area to cooperate. In addition to “110 percent cooperation,” Lindquist said, Ski Corp. has helped with preparations.

“Ski Corp. has definitely embraced that we are locals putting on this event,” Lindquist said. “They have been instrumental in helping with this event.”

The race will begin with a Le Mans start at the base of the ski area at noon Saturday and conclude at noon Sunday.

The winning team or individual will be determined by number of laps completed. If a team heads out before noon, that lap will count. But if two teams are tied for the lead, the team across the finish line first will win.

Spectators are welcome and encouraged to go anywhere on the course, and the gondola will be open this weekend if spectators aren’t able to hike up. Lindquist said great viewing areas would be anywhere along Valley View or just above Sitz at the top of the Christie lift.

The course is a loop that begins at the base and ascends to the gondola via Zig Zag and Why Not. At the top, riders will go to Elk Head and Spur Run before descending on Valley View to Sitz and Yoo Hoo. Riders will hand off a baton of sorts to the next rider after their lap officially is counted.

Lindquist said there would be more climbing during Steamboat’s race than others in which she has competed.

“The course is completely buff,” Lindquist said. “We did trail maintenance. Routt County Riders came out on Saturday, and we cleaned up the course. We will mark it on Thursday, and it’s open to pre-ride on Friday.”

A pre-ride is recommended.

Brad Bingham is one of 11 men competing in the 24-hour solo ride, his first attempt at such an endeavor. He served on Lindquist’s support crew when she won the 24 Hours of Beaver Creek last fall.

“I just hope I make it 24,” said Bingham, a Moots manufacturer. “Since last fall, I was hoping to do one. I would enjoy it just as much or even more on a team, but this is a personal goal.”

Bingham said he is going light on support staff, opting to set up food on a table by himself. He trained by riding nine hours in a row and then camping. Last week, he went to Boulder via Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.

“I have trained for this to some extent,” Bingham said. “I haven’t ridden 12 hours. Katie said she doesn’t go the full distance in training.”

“You can’t really train for sleep deprivation,” Lindquist said. “You end up sort of sucking it up that you’re up for 24 hours.”

Solo riders represent just one division of this year’s race. In addition to the 11 men, two women will do the solo ride. Four duo teams will be competing in the 24-hour race. Eleven men are competing in the 12-hour solo division, which runs from noon Saturday to midnight.

In the four-person team division, there are five teams in men’s expert, five teams in men’s sport, two women’s expert teams and two women’s sport teams. There also are four mixed teams.

Six teams entered the five-person open category. The only requirement in that division is that at least one woman must be on the team. There are also four corporate teams of six or more riders entered. There is even a junior team in the field — all riders are 17 and younger.

During the winter, people grow accustomed to seeing lights on the ski mountain from the trail groomers. This weekend, as many as 53 10-watt lights might be visible as the bikes descend on Mount Werner during the night ride.

Azteca Taqueria, Creekside Cafe and The Rio Grande are setting up food booths, and coffee, shaved ice and smoothies will be available. On Sunday, a post-race party is being held from 1 to 5 p.m. Worried Men is scheduled to play, and prizes and awards will be handed out.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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