Town Challenge gives the smallest Steamboat cyclists a chance to compete again
There was a joyous, chaotic energy at Wednesday’s Town Challenge that has been missing from the world since March 2020. As restrictions have loosened, Steamboat Springs has seen glimpses of what once was and could be, but on Wednesday night at Howelsen Ice Arena, the type of gathering that was once a thing of the past or a dream for the future, was very much in the present.
Bikes were thrown every which way, forming long lines of dusty wheels and frames on the edge of the parking lot. Grandparents waved exuberantly to their helmet-wearing grandchildren, reminding them they were watching and where they were standing. Kids climbed a large dirt pile, evidence of work being done in the area, and parents kept their head on a swivel, tracking their little cyclists as they ran around with friends. Of course, the spandex clad adults did warmup laps in the lot.
Knees were scuffed in intense start line shenanigans, and racers managed to go the wrong way; the type of problems that the youth of Steamboat are likely happy to have again.
The Emerald Endurance race was the second of the 2021 Town Challenge season, the first since 2019. The return of the series has been met with participation and passion that Emily Hines, Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation marketing, communications and events coordinator, hasn’t seen since joining the team in 2014.
“We knew that people were excited to get out after a year of not having their favorite events,” Hines said. “We saw that (at the first race) at Marabou. We had over 180 people registered, which is probably the biggest numbers I’ve ever seen.”
Quintin Biagi, 7, was competing in his first race of the season and his first in the 7-8 division. The force was certainly with him Wednesday night. Wearing his light green Yoda jersey, Biagi was the first in the 7-8 division to cross the finish line. On the back of his collar is a famous quote from the elderly Jedi master: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
“It’s a challenge. You have hill climbs, punchy downhills, but it’s just a flowy trail every time,” Biagi said. “It gives me good exercise.”
Biagi came across the line just a few seconds ahead of the second- and third-place finishers, a feat he didn’t expect.
“I was surprised because there’s a lot of faster kids,” Biagi said. “I trained with my dad.”
Biagi’s father, Evan, said that Quintin has been training all winter. He did the Town Challenge when he was in the “Tot” division, but not regularly. Nevertheless, Quintin looked forward to strapping on a helmet over his red hair and getting back out there. The whole Biagi family, including Quintin’s mom, Lori, ride together.
“We’re very impressed,” Evan said. “He’s been training all winter. He even got an indoor bike. He’s been zwifting (using an mobile cycling app).”
The courses were slightly different than those in the past due to construction. Rather than starting behind Olympian Hall, the races started by the ice rink. Other races may have to be altered too due to construction at both Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Resort.
The next race will be Mt. Werner Madness on July 14.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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