Buffalo Pass no big deal for seasoned Steamboat riders
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A 10-mile hill climb apparently wasn’t enough for Ethan Moyer.
Ahead of the fourth Town Challenge Bike Race of the year, the 19-year-old biked to the start of the race from downtown Steamboat Springs. He ascended three, steep, windy miles up Buffalo Pass before reaching the start line.
“I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to park up here because there would be a lot of people,” he said. “But there were a lot of spots. It’s nice to use these races as training races, so it’s a great warm-up.”
Long, uphill rides aren’t unfamiliar to Moyer, who is a part of the Steamboat Velo Mountain Biking Team.
“We’re coming into national championships in Winter Park, so I’m kind of using this to get some speed in the legs,” Moyer said.
He and his teammates were all donning red and white Steamboat Velo jerseys on the ride and led the pack in the pro-open category.
Also using the hill climb as training for nationals was Los Angeles native John Wessling, who reached the top in second place, right behind the winner.
“It was really good. It’s not too steep. Obviously, it’s all uphill, but it’s not too steep, so it’s pretty fun to race because you can keep a pretty good speed,” he said. “Overall, it was great. It was my first time ever riding here. It’s about as good as it gets.”
The race began at the Dry Lake Campground entrance, and for the pro, expert, sport and youth 16 to 18 groups, the route was 9.65 miles along the Flash of Gold trail and featured 2,700 feet of elevation gain.
After completing the climb, riders had to either maneuver the rocky road back down Buffalo Pass or use a trail of choice to return to the start line where a post-race party waited. Wessling was the first to arrive.
“Fifty minutes up and 13 minutes down,” he said after taking the fire road back down the hill. “That puts it in perspective.”
Although they aren’t professionals, teenagers Aidan Haack and Thomas Cooper also admitted the ride wasn’t as bad as they expected. The pair pushed up 1,800 feet of elevation gain over 5.15 miles in the 13 to 15 age group.
“The course was nice,” Cooper said. “It’s a really pretty trail. It was a lot of fun. Little easier than I was expecting.”
Meanwhile, the 11 to 12 race rode 3.4 miles, and the 9 to 10 group rode 2 miles, both on the Fiddlehead trail. Bikers in the 7 to 8 group navigated the Panorama trail to rack up 1.4 miles, while the Tots dashed just 0.2 miles.
Cooper won the 13 to 15 division and used the BTR trail to return to race base, which he admitted was the highlight of the evening aside from the victory. Haack rode down the main road after taking third in the age group. He said he had biked Buffalo Pass before, but not in a race atmosphere.
“I liked it. It was a little easier than I was expecting,” Haack said.
Like them, Moyer used to ride in the Town Challenge races when he was younger.
“This whole area, this single track, is so great. It’s fun to get out with the whole Town Challenge crew,” Moyer said. “This is how I really fell in love with mountain biking — racing this as a little kid.”
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