Town Challenge enables families to enjoy biking together
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Don’t let the name fool you, the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge doesn’t have to be a challenge.
The series of bike races, held every other Wednesday, breaks the competitors up into more than a dozen different groups, with routes of varying distances, appealing to bikers of all capabilities.
“I think it’s just a great opportunity for people of every ability, every age group, to come out and participate and enjoy the sport together,” Steamboat Springs Marketing and Special Event Coordinator Emily Hines said. “It’s awesome to see all the young kids, all the way up to the older people who are participating.”
Nearly the entire Reynolds family competed in the Emerald Endurance race at Emerald Mountain on Wednesday, July 10. Eva and Ellie, both 12, competed in the 11-12 race, a 3.75 mile loop. Delia, age 9, competed in the race for 9- and 10-year-old riders, a slightly shorter 3.3 mile race. Meanwhile, younger brother Isaac, 4, opened up the evening by competing in the Tot race, which was just 0.2 miles long.
Eva said she enjoys going uphill, while twin Ellie said she prefers going downhill. Evening the family out, Delia admitted she’d rather ride on a flat course.
“I’m just thankful that they like biking as much as we do,” their mom, Kira Reynolds said. “I think it’s a great sport for around here. We live up north, so we don’t live right in town, but we do a lot of things in town. We do it for fun and for being around other people.”
Chris Skinner, visiting from Denver, stumbled across the Town Challenge race.
“I was biking here a couple days ago and saw some of the trail markings for the race,” he said. “I was like, ‘Hey, there’s a race going on. Let’s see if we can do it.’”
Ahead of competing in the expert 35-49 division, Skinner cheered on his 8-year-old son, also named Chris.
The younger Skinner raced in the 7-8 division, pedaling 0.7 miles before watching his father start a 15.25 mile ride.
“I like that you can pass people by going fast,” the younger Chris Skinner said while eating a post-race popsicle. “I like to go fast.”
As kids zipped into the final stretch, parents pulled their phones out to snap pictures before dashing off to greet their child. There was no shortage of high-fives at the finish line. With the blood pumping and energy running high, the young competitors lapped at free ice pops and scooped up toys from vendors while parents scrambled to keep track of bikes and helmets.
While the bike-friendly community of Steamboat offers ample opportunities for young riders, Hines thinks the Town Challenge is unique because it’s so frequent.
“We have races every other week throughout the summer. Right now, we actually have two back to back, this week and next week,” Hines said. “There’s just a lot more opportunity for the little guys to get out there and practice their skills.”
Emerald Endurance was the third in a series of seven races that continues with the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb on July 17.
Following the four youth races, the pro-open competitors were seen off at 6:10 p.m. and in the next four minutes, six more groups started. The men’s expert races were broken up in to three age groups, 19-34, 35-40 and 50 and older. Meanwhile, the singular women’s expert division as well as the men’s and women’s single speed classes took off up Emerald Mountain.
Leaving the starting gate last were the youth 16-18 group, men’s sport divisions (also divided into three age groups), the women’s sport division and youth 13-15.
“There’s really something for everybody,” Hines said. “Having the opportunity to bring people together, it truly is a community event. We do get some folks from out of town, but ultimately this is for the locals.”
Results will run at SteamboatPilot.com and in Friday’s Steamboat Pilot & Today.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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