Mountain bikers ride into sunset at final Town Challenge Race of the season
Steamboat Springs — After six races this summer, the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series has come down to one final event and one final twist. Organizers hope moving the final event to Saturday will draw a large, competitive field.
“This is the first time they have had a race on a Saturday,” said Brad Bingham, a regular at the summer events. “This is a new event for the Town Challenge, and I think it’s going to be a good one.”
Race series organizer Emily Hines, who works as a marketing specialist for the city’s Parks & Community Services Department, hopes hosting the race on a Saturday will allow more local mountain bikers to participate. In the past, she said, the race series has struggled to attract a strong field for the final event, because children are back in school, and many of the adult racers are unable to socialize after the event due to other obligations.
“We wanted to try something a little new,” Hines said. “The problem with Wednesday night is that we are running out of light, and all the kids have to go to school. We wanted people to stick around and celebrate the series and the final race of the season, so we are going to give this a try.”
The CODA Classic cross-country race will begin a 9 a.m. Saturday with the 6-and-under division, followed by the youth 7-8, youth 9-10 and youth 11-12 races. The pro-open divisions will begin at 9:40 a.m., followed by the expert, single speed, sport, youth 16-18 novice and youth 13-15 races.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to have a nice, midday party,” Bingham said.
The veteran racer said the idea of a Saturday race has been well-received in the mountain biking community, though he acknowledged he has heard some riders grumbling about wanting a longer, single-loop cross-country event.
Hines said organizers wanted to have a long cross-country style race to bring the season to an end, but explained that a logging project on Emerald Mountain has closed many of the upper mountain trails, making a long one-lap course difficult to plan.
Instead, racers in this year’s event will complete several laps around a shorter course. It’s not ideal, but Hines hopes racers will enjoy the courses offered.
“It’s great, because the riders can hang out and have a beverage after the event,” Bingham said. “We are supposed to have gorgeous weather, and it should be a really fun way to wrap up the season.”
Hines said race organizers are hoping for a party feeling at the finish line as riders make their way around the course. She said lunch boxes will be available for $5 and include a sandwich, chips and a cookie.
“The race will start and finish on the gravel road behind the Howelsen Hill Lodge,” Hines said. “It’s fun, because the racers will race past the spectators several times, allowing loved ones, friends and family to cheer for them multiple times. It should be a good format for spectators who want to watch the race.”
Following the race, organizers will draw for prizes, including a mountain bike frame from Moots worth $3,000, a youth season ski pass from the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation and lots of goodies from Honey Stinger and other series sponsors.
The party will also present a chance to honor the top riders from each division with series titles. Hines expects the awards to begin at approximately 12:45 p.m., adding that the party will celebrate another great mountain biking season
Hines said participation was strong this season, with 110 season-pass holders and another 50 riders who regularly showed up for events. She said most races drew between 150 and 200 racers, and the most popular events were the Marabou cross-country race and the Bike Town Classic.
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