Final ride nears for Town Challenge
Sunshine Loop XC Town Challenge
What: Town Challenge mountain bike race series
Where: Steamboat Ski Area, starting at Gondola Square
When: 5:25 p.m.
Cost: $35 on site
Steamboat Springs — The race to win the top divisions of the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge mountain bike series will come to a predictable conclusion Wednesday afternoon with the series’ final race of the summer — the Sunshine Loop XC on Mount Werner.
The night should be anything but anti-climactic, as dozens of racers in various classifications and age groups battle it out in one last chance to tally points.
Racers will be allowed to count their points from five of the six Town Challenge races this season toward their season total. So, since Hannah Williams has not yet lost in the women’s pro/open division, going five-for-five, she’s a lock.
On the other side, Brad Bingham has the men’s top division, the pro/open category, locked up, having won four of five races and placed second in the fifth.
Plenty of spots are up for grabs, however, even in those elite divisions.
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Racing kicks off at 5:25 p.m. with the first of the youth classifications. The pro/open divisions start at 5:55 p.m., and the rest of the divisions start soon after, with the novice and youth 13-15 divisions bringing up the rear at 6:04 p.m.
The course runs 15.25 miles for the pro/open, expert and single speed divisions, from the base of the gondola, up to the top of Thunderhead on Valley View trail, then around the Duster and Sunshine loop before descending via Tenderfoot, Creekside and E-Z Rider back to the starting line.
Sport and youth 16-18 classes will go 12 miles, skipping much of the Sunshine loop, while novice and youth 13-15 riders will go 3.4 miles, staying lower on the mountain.
“Sunshine is a classic,” race director David Stevenson said. “It will stay pretty much the same this year with only a few minor trail changes.”
How riders can grit out those climbs, then how fast they can stand to make the descents will decide plenty in the overall standings, even if the top spots are spoken for. There’s a tie for second in the women’s pro/open division between Linnea Dixson and Becky Edmiston, and room for change in the men’s pro/open podium, as well, with Peter Kalmes, Alex Pond and Barkley Robinson all in the mix.
In fact, there’s room for movement in every class, from pro to novice, men and women, so riders will have no shortage of incentive.
One more race
Wednesday’s race may mark the end of the Town Challenge season-long points race but not the end of Town Challenge racing in Steamboat this summer.
The series will play host to a separate finale event this year unrelated to the points. The event — the Coda Classic XC — is set for Sept. 19. Stevenson said details are still being worked out, but riders can expect a trail nearly twice as long as they usually find on their average Wednesday night and a big party waiting for them afterward.
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