Town Challenge’s Emerald Envy race sweet, even for beginners | SteamboatToday.com

Town Challenge’s Emerald Envy race sweet, even for beginners

Riders head down the trail above Steamboat Springs on Wednesday. The Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series returned to Emerald Mountain for its third race of the summer.

For more

View the race results here.

— Renee Jensen felt comfortable Wednesday heading into her first Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series because she knew the trails.

She's been riding on Emerald Mountain since she took up mountain biking three years ago, and she'd not only ridden the up-and-down course marked for the women's novice class in Wednesday's third race of the season, she'd timed herself on it.

"It's something I thought would be a challenge and might be kind of fun," she said. From beginning to end, the race was everything she thought it could be, too.

The season's first race on the popular Emerald Mountain trails brought out another large crowd, and it produced many of the same results.

Peter Kalmes won in the men's pro division, mastering the 12.5-mile course for his 18th consecutive victory on the circuit, a streak that stretches across four summers. He was in at 57 minutes, 21 seconds.

It wasn't automatic Wednesday as Alex Pond finished close in second, at 57:44. Brad Bingham was third in 1:07:24.

Hannah Williams, meanwhile, won the women's side, finishing in 1:11:00, ahead of Mindy Muliken at 1:18:42 and Katie Lindquist, third in 1:19:08.

Jensen, too, recorded a time she was proud of. Drawn into the series somewhat by her boyfriend, Derek Garfield, in only his third race, they said they enjoyed the evening.

They complimented the laid-back nature of their divisions and applauded the supportive nature of their fellow racers.

They were thankful that a race managed to push them harder on trails they've enjoyed riding together for several years.

That led Jensen to cut 10 minutes off her previous best time on the route.

She had only one complaint: The men's expert division ended up catching up to the women's novice riders.

"I had one guy yell at me to get off of the trail," she said. "He didn't think I was a part of the race."

The Town Challenge draws all sorts of people in its 200-rider fields, those as serious as Kalmes and Williams, those trying it out for the first time this season and dozens in between.

Jensen, however, was the only one who rode with a Yoda backpack, which may explain why someone coming up behind her thought she didn't belong.

"Hey, I got a lot of Star Wars quotes yelled at me," she said. "But it was fun. I pushed myself harder doing this than I normally do. This was a lot of fun."