Steamboat’s Town Challenge race series shifts into high gear Wednesday
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Riders and organizers of this year’s Town Challenge Mountain Bike series are gearing up for the start of a new season, which will open with a cross-country race Wednesday, June 5, at the Marabou Ranch.
“Yeah, I get excited about it,” local mountain bike racer Alex Pond said of the racing series. “It’s a good reason to get together with people in town and ride. The series kind of pushes your limits a little bit, but nothing too serious.”
Wednesday’s opener will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the younger racers, followed by the adult divisions starting at 6 p.m. Emily Hines, marketing and special events coordinator for the city of Steamboat Springs, said racers are encouraged to arrive at least one hour prior to their designated start time to make sure they are on hand when their group leaves the starting line.
A complete list of start times as well as maps and waivers can be found at townchallenge.com.
The cost for the race is $20 prior to race day, and $25 the day of the race for adult riders. Children, age 7 to 18, can register for $10 prior and $15 the day of the race.
There will be a post–race party afterwards hosted by Steamboat Radio, New Belgium beer and Arctic Liquors.
For Pond, the series has always offered a great place to train for other larger events across the state and the region, but it also provides a great place to gather with other people who love the sport.
“It’s nice to get together afterwards for beer and food and just catching up with people,” Pond said. “Everybody is busy during the work day, so it’s kind of nice to all come together and hang out.”
The opener is also exciting because it gives rider a chance to enjoy riding the private trails at Marabou Ranch. Riders can pre-ride the course from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Tuesday. Dogs are not allowed, and mountain bikers will need to sign a waiver, which can be downloaded and must be dropped off at the ranch entry before riding.
“It’s a treat to be able go out there and race every year,” Hines said. “We help break in their trails for their summer users, and in return, our racers get an opportunity to go out there and try something they don’t get to do on a daily basis.”
The Marabou Race will be the first of six races this summer that will form the series along with a free community ride and barbeque at Howelsen Hill on Aug. 21.
Other events include the Mount Werner Madness on June 19, the Emerald Endurance on July 10, the Howelsen Howler on July 31 and the Sunshine Loop on Aug. 14.
The Parks and Recreation Department is also planning the Buff Pass Hill Climb, which will use the Flash of Gold trail on Buffalo Pass, on July 17, but the permit is still pending.
Hines said construction at Steamboat Resort has impacted the race series this season, but by moving up the Mount Werner Madness race and pushing back the Sunshine Loop to the end of the season, the series has been able to keep events on the mountain despite work on the new gondola.
Season passes can be purchased for $110, or $18 a race, but that option will end after the first race. Online registration for individual races will close at 11:30 p.m. the night prior to each race. Race day registration will take place onsite at each event until 5:45 p.m.
Hines added that a great group of volunteers makes the Town Challenge possible each summer, and anyone interested in making the events a success should contact her at 970-871-7031.
“It’s always crazy and chaotic,” Hines said. “It’s always last minute getting everything ready and working on getting those last minutes registrations and numbers assigned. But it’s a fun time.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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