Emerald Mountain Epic showcases Steamboat’s mountain biking prestige
History was made as the Emerald Mountain Epic returned to Steamboat Springs this weekend.
The two-day event ran from Aug. 6-7 with a 52-mile or 26-mile bike ride on Saturday and a full or half marathon run on Sunday. There were around 700 competitors on bikes and 500 on foot with many competing both days.
Saturday’s mountain bike winner, Taylor Lideen of the Pro/Open male division, broke the race record with a time of 3:52:48, completing both laps in under two hours. He was the only solo racer to do so.
Lideen came all the way from Arkansas to compete. This was his first visit to Steamboat, and he was excited to see if the city lived up to its reputation.
“It’s incredible, like now I know why everybody talks about Steamboat as this kind of mountain bike mecca,” Lideen said. “I really enjoyed the course for sure, I got to see two moose early on so that was the highlight, but it was super fun, everybody was super positive and it’s just good vibes here.”
Not everyone had a spotless race. Steamboat’s Jonathan Aldrich faced a mountain biker’s worst fear. Approximately halfway through the first lap his brakes went out.
No brakes on the top of a mountain can be an extremely dangerous situation, so Aldrich called his friend while he was racing and asked him to bring a bike to swap out. Aldrich’s buddy, Jett Douglas, hopped out of bed, threw his own bike in his truck and got to the Howelsen stable area within 10 minutes.
Aldrich eventually made it down to the stables safely and transferred to the new bike. The transition took several minutes as the guys needed to switch out the pedals of the bikes.
The new bike was not quite the best fit for Aldrich, but he was forced to make it work.
“He called me when he was at the top of the mountain and said he’d be down in 10, so I booked it down here and he was not down in 10. I think it took him like 40 with one brake but he survived and then he got down here and apparently got stung by a bee, so he’s getting the full deal,” Douglas said.
It was not the race that Aldrich expected or was hoping for, but he came across the finish line in 50th place of the Pro/Open Male division and overcame all the obstacles that Emerald Mountain threw his way.
The Duo Relay added a little bit more mental conflict for some racers.
The Duo Relay was a team race in which one partner completed the first lap and the other finished the second. While it may be less distance for the individual racer, there is a mental aspect of not letting your teammate down.
Steamboat’s Marie Fisher and Terri Goforth wanted to get the best time they possibly could.
Fisher took the first lap of the race and said the one thing on her mind was to not let Goforth down.
“Keep pedaling and pedal faster so that you can get in here as quick as possible,” Fisher said. “Today, with the heat, I was trying to just get myself back across the line as fast as I could so that she could get going and not be out there in the heat of the day.”
Temperatures varied from the mid-50s in the morning to high 80s in the afternoon. It was certainly not easy for any competitors.
Fisher thought they had an edge over others having already biked the trails in Steamboat many times before. She was happy so many people came from outside the area and got to experience what Steamboat has to offer.
“It’s super fun to have a hometown event that you get to do with your friends,” Fisher said. “Obviously we have a bit of an advantage because we know the trails inside and out, so we know when the suffering is about to start and when it’s about to end. It’s a great event.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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