Steamboat’s mountain bike race series kicks off Wednesday |

Steamboat’s mountain bike race series kicks off Wednesday

Brent Boyer

Christine Pietras rides Howelsen Hill with her dog, Pancho, on June 7, 2011, the day before the start of last year's Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series. A wet spring in 2011 had race organizers scrambling to find dry trails. That's no problem this year, when a forecast of sunny skies and a high of 74 degrees will help kick off the series with the Howlin' Howelsen on Wednesday.

— What a difference a year makes.

The start of the 2011 Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series was complicated by a long, wet spring that left many Emerald Mountain trails unridable by the time the Howelsen XC race kicked off the summer schedule.

It's quite the opposite this year, with much of Emerald Mountain's singletrack having been open to riders since late April. And with a forecast of sunny skies and a high temperature of 74 degrees, the 2012 version of the popular city-run mountain bike race series gets going Wednesday afternoon with an expanded Howlin' Howelsen course.

"We are ready to go," said Kate Warnke, who is beginning her first year as Town Challenge series director. "It should be a beautiful day."

As usual, Wednesday's race features a variety of courses depending on rider classification. All races start in front of the concrete grandstands at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.

Recommended Stories For You

For most adult racers, including those in the pro/open, expert, single speed and sport classes, the course climbs up the Bluff Loop to Ricky's Ridge, Lupine, Emerald Meadows, Blackmer Drive, MGM, Eye to Eye, MGM, Prayer Flag Road and finally Blair Witch. The descent starts down Blackmer Drive to Lupine, Emerald Meadows, Blackmer Drive to Long John, back to lower Lupine via the lower stock pond, and then down Upper Bluffs before crossing the parking lot by the horse stables and finishing back in the rodeo arena. Click here for the course map.

"We're trying to use as many of the trails as we can and get people excited about the challenges yet to come," Warnke said.

The men's and women's novice classifications and all youth races except for the 16- to 18-year-old class will ride abbreviated courses. For full descriptions, click here.

The cost to register for the Howlin' Howelsen race is $30 and can be done at the start area. Online registration closed Tuesday. Advance registration was only $20, and Warnke encouraged riders to go that route for Town Challenge events.

She said more than 100 riders had already registered for Wednesday's race by Tuesday morning. She's expecting between 180 and 200 total racers by the time the starting gun on the youth races sounds at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The first adult races go off at 6:05 p.m.

To reach Brent Boyer, call 970-871-4221 or email

Go back to article