Buff Pass Climb to challenge bicyclists | SteamboatToday.com

Buff Pass Climb to challenge bicyclists

Melinda Mawdsley

Tonight’s Town Challenge mountain bike race includes no tricky corners, single track or technical descents. Once riders depart the start line, they only thing they need to focus on is getting themselves and their bikes up a seemingly never-ending hill.

The Buffalo Pass Hill Climb is the second to last race in the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series and is considered by many to be the toughest in the eight-race series.

Men’s sport racer Clark Stewart pre-rode the route Saturday and expects a tough race tonight.

“Most races, you get a couple seconds of downhill,” Stewart said. “This is a hill climb. You don’t have a lot to look forward to.”

The riders competing in tonight’s pro, expert and sport divisions — male and female — will climb more than 3,500 feet on an 11-mile course with as much as a 10 percent grade. The course averages an 8 percent to 9 percent grade for its duration.

Those competitors will start at about 6,900 feet at the bottom of Buffalo Pass Road and proceed to the top parking lot at Summit Lake, which has an elevation of more than 10,300 feet.

The novice and youth 16 to 18 riders will skip the first three miles of the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb and begin their race at the Dry Lake Campground.

“It’s a tough climb,” race director Gretchen Sehler said. “It’s a challenge, in one respect, so people do it. Other people do it because it’s part of the race series and they are bucking for points and need to race it.”

With the Town Challenge series winding to a close, racers only have tonight and one more race to score points toward the end-of-season championships.

The racers in the 13 to 15 division will start at the second gate on Buffalo Pass Road and ride 4.25 miles toward the Summit Lake parking lot. Children in the 10 to 12 division will have a 1.2-mile ride from U.S Forest Service Road 306 to the parking lot. The racers in the 9 and younger division will begin at the bottom of Buffalo Pass Road on Routt County Road 38A and ride 0.4 miles to the finish.

Sehler emphasized that tonight’s races begin early (5 p.m. for children and 5:30 p.m. for adults) and that racers should bring warm clothes for the descent from Buffalo Pass. Race volunteers will take vehicles up to help stow clothes.

The race will be held no matter what, but because of the high elevation at the finish, Sehler may have to shorten it if inclement weather rolls in, she said.

Parents are asked to have their children at the bottom of Buffalo Pass Road by 4:30 p.m. to allow time to get all the children up to their respective starting lines for the 5 p.m. starts.

Race registration will be held near the start area at the bottom of Buffalo Pass Road. Children younger than 18 are $10. Adults are $15.

—To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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