Town Challenge goes virtual, benefits COVID-19 Response Fund |

Town Challenge goes virtual, benefits COVID-19 Response Fund

A cyclist competes in the Sunshine Loop, part of the Town Challenge on Wednesday, Aug. 14. In 2020, the series will feature one virtual race on Emerald Mountain.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Like most bike races determined to have some sort of competition and normalcy, the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race is going virtual.

Emily Hines, the Marketing and Special Events Coordinator for Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation, knows that people are probably “virtualled out,” so her team added an additional appeal to the race by making the $10 registration go towards the Yampa Valley COVID-19 Response Fund. Rather than have the money go to Parks and Rec, which is operating on a fraction of its original budget, Hines thought it was important to give back to the community.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be one of those make it or break it types of things,” said Hines. “We’re doing okay with what we’ve got right now and feel comfortable. Obviously, we’ve had to make a lot of cuts. We know that we’re hurting, but so are a lot of other people in the community.”

Participants have between July 10 and 19 to complete the designated course of whatever division they choose to participate in. Unlike the typical Town Challenge, which is a series, this is just one race, named the COVID Cross Country. The start and the finish will be at the stables at Howelsen Hill. The courses, split into long and short courses for both youth and adults, are available online.

The courses vary from 1.1 miles for youth younger than eight, to nearly 15 miles for the adults riding the long course. The top three men and women in each division will be eligible for prizes. All prizes will be purchased from local businesses.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“We hope that will help in stimulating the economy and giving our local businesses love,” said Hines.

As participants complete the course, they must record their time with a GPS capable device or app such as Strava and send it to Hines at Submissions will be accepted until 10 p.m. on July 19.

Of course, there will be no actual starting line, no clock, and no course markers or marshals. Riders will have to navigate the correct course on their own, and will not have food, water, or emergency services on hand. 

Since the trails are open to the public, Parks and Rec asks riders to exercise caution and not bomb down trails or around corners with limited lines of sight. Other hikers and bikers may be occupying the trail. While participants may be racing in a sense, typical right-of-way rules will still apply. 

In addition to the standard waiver, participants are also required to sign a COVID-19 assumption of risk waiver, which can be found at

“We wanted to at least keep engaged with our racers,” said Hines. “And provide them with a fun opportunity, hopefully to get out and explore some of the emerald trails in a no pressure, casual atmosphere where they have the opportunity to ride.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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