Steamboat Springs An hour is all it will take for the best mountain bikers in the Town Challenge series to climb 3,500 feet from the base of Buffalo Pass to the top Friday.
The hill climb will be the final event in the eight-race series and is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
"This race is starting a little earlier than our others," Race Director Gretchen Sehler said. "It's the longest race of the season, and we want to be done before it gets dark."
Sehler is hoping for another record crowd at the race. The series has grown just about every week, and organizers are hoping for as many as 150 riders for the finale.
"This is usually the second-largest race of the summer," Sehler said.
Sehler is hoping the change of day, from Wednesday to Friday, will help more people including school children take part in the race. Sehler said by the time the race is completed and the awards take place at the Sore Saddle Cyclery, it is usually 11 p.m. She hopes the Friday night timing helps more people attend the race and the post-race party.
The race itself will begin at several different starting points. The expert and sport classes will start at the base of the pass and ride 11 miles to the top. The novice classes will race on a shorter 8-mile course and the juniors will race either 4 or 2.6 miles depending on age. The 9 and under class will compete two-tenths of a mile on the final stretch of the course. All of the classes will begin at 5:30 p.m.
"We try to have a course for every level of rider," Sehler said.
The race will determine the overall season winners in several classes, including the women's expert.
In that class, Sarah Fisher and Meagan Morgan are battling for the title. The riders are currently tied and the winner will take it all.
The situation is the same in the men's sport, where David Wiland and Ande Hirst are tied for the lead. In the Junior 10-12 class, Nick Crislip, Abe Maynard and Marty Smith are all within a couple of points. Once again, the top finisher out of that group will be crowned champions.
"Everybody else has it wrapped up," Sehler said. "But there are still a lot of places that are up for grabs in the different classes."
Riders can register for the race for a reduced cost of $10 at the Parks and Recreation offices until noon Friday. At the start of the race, the price to enter increases to $15.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org