Lots of pain, plenty of gain at Town Challenge | SteamboatToday.com

Lots of pain, plenty of gain at Town Challenge

Riders tear away from the starting line at the base of Howelsen Hill during a Town Challenge Mountain Bike race.
Joel Reichenberger

Chris Rhodes lay in the grass, his bike to the side and a group of friends cycling in and out, trading stories and laughs.

He finished near the front of the pack of racers at Wednesday’s Town Challenge Mountain Bike race at Emerald Mountain, but the last racers had finished before he climbed up from his perch, and many of them had already even gone home.

“Yes,” he said, leaning back in that grass, “racing with broken ribs hurts.”

Rhodes said a nasty fall during a mountain bike trip to Vernal, Utah, was the culprit — an over-the-handle bars affair that left him, in the moment, wincing, and racing on Wednesday, wheezing.

Simply skipping Wednesday’s race didn’t seem like an option, however. He did buy a Town Challenge season pass, after all.

“Really,” he said, “I just wanted to go for a ride.”

Midway through he may have been wondering about that decision.

Wednesday’s course started gradually up from the base of Howelsen Hill but soon had riders sweating profusely.

Sweeter terrain awaited on the descent, however, including a glide over the brand new NPR trail lower on Emerald Mountain.

“They just keep making it better,” Rhodes said. “That new trail, NPR, it’s just got really good flow and just natural elements where you don’t have to break, don’t have to pedal. You just let her go.”

Finally recovered and relaxed, he decided: It was worth it.

“It’s definitely not easy,” he said. “It’s all good. I still got a good ride in.”

Rhodes went on to finish second in his division, men’s expert 19 to 34, finishing in 1 hour, 9 minutes and 31 seconds, behind Nathan Williard, who won the group.

Alex Pond was the overall fastest man, winning the men’s pro/open division in 1:00:43. Ken Benesh was second at 1:01:31 and Barkley Robinson third in 1:03:08.

Hannah Williams paced the field for the women, finishing in 1:07:56. Becky Edmiston was second at 1:17:24 and Emily Miller third in 1:18:56.

The next Town Challenge race is set for June 29 at Steamboat Ski Area.

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