New route for next race in Town Challenge

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— Local mountain biker Joan Donham hasn't checked out the next course in the Town Challenge series, but she isn't waiting until Wednesday to get her first taste of the Howelsen Hill terrain.

"You have to get out there and pre-ride the courses," Donham said. "If you don't, then you will not have a chance of winning."

Donham, who won the women's Sport 30-plus class at the last event, said she has never taken on the Blackmer Drive Circuit, which will be the next test for riders in the Town Challenge Series.

Race director Gretchen Sehler said this year's course has a few new twists and turns anyway.

The main change it that the race will start and finish at the upper part of the chairlift.

Sehler added that the loop will be about three miles in length with novices completing on lap and pro classes taking on three or four laps.

"Gretchen does a great job of setting up exciting courses," Donham said.

Donham said she rides at Howelsen a lot but had never ridden the course before the cross-country race June 27.

"I'm still riding that course," Donham said. "It was beautiful and just a lot of fun."

This week Sehler will further challenge racers with a new design at the top of Howelsen Hill. She said the race should be a fun one to watch, but local spectators will need to hike up to the top of Howelsen to catch a glimpse of the riders as they speed by.

"It's a multi-lap affair, which makes it great for spectators," Sehler said. " but, the best places to watch will be in Heart and Orton meadows."

Because the race starts at midmountain, Sehler plans to use the chairlift to get young racers to the starting line. She will use a truck to get their bikes to the top of the hill.

"It's going to be a little bit different, but it should be a lot of fun," Sehler said.

The race will be the fourth of the eight-race series in Steamboat Springs.

The series is off to a record with 186 riders taking part in the first event, 206 racers taking part in the second and 214 attending the third event.

"It's crazy," Sehler said. "Each race has grown more and more."

Sehler said 135 riders are signed up to take part in the entire series. Most of the riders come from the Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Craig areas.

Donham admits that she has taken part in more of the races this year than she did in the past partly because she bought a season pass and partly because she joined the Yampa Valley Medical Team.

"They told me at the start that I could only miss two races," Donham said. "So I went out and bought the pass."

Donham has taken part in two out of three events this summer. She won her age division in the two races she has taken part in this summer.

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