Steamboat Springs Just more than minutes into Wednesday night's grueling Mount Werner Hill Climb, Steamboat Springs racer Ben Zambrana was feeling pretty good about his race.
The day's wet weather had made for ideal racing conditions, and he had maintained a pretty speedy pace up the steep slopes of Mount Werner. But as he neared the finish line, there was one nagging thing he just couldn't seem to shake training partner Ian Prichard.
"He was coming up behind me inch by inch during the whole race," Zambrana said. "He caught me at the corner, so I kicked it into another gear and went hard to the finish."
The last-second shift, and Zambrana's last-ditch effort, paid off big. Prichard faded at the top of the last hill and Zambrana cruised across the finish line to win the second event of the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series with a time of 36 minutes, 2 seconds.
"I was psyched that I did it," Zambrana said of taking part in the race. "I haven't raced in this race for a few years, mostly because of my schedule."
The only person happier than the winners may have been race director Gretchen Sehler, who was also psyched following the race.
"We had 207 racers," Sehler said. "That's pretty good for this race."
So despite the day's slightly cooler-than-normal temperatures and a slight dusting of snow on top of Storm Peak, the second race of the Town Challenge series went off without a hitch. Sehler wasn't totally surprised, however, since the hill climb seems to be one of the most popular events of the series.
"The rain was nice," Zambrana said. " The dust was pretty bad up here a few days ago and after the rain the course was nearly perfect."
Prichard finished in second at 36:17 and Jon Cariveau in third at 37:20 in the men's pro class.
Zambrana's sister Katherine ruled the women's expert class with a winning time of 45:46. She was followed by Liz Rostermundt in second at 46:39 and Julie Fager in third with a time of 50:37.
Other winners in Wednesday night's race included Eric Lobeck (42:17) in the men's expert; Brock Webster (41:46) in the men's expert 30-39; and Dan Chovan (42:40) in the men's expert 40 plus.
Ethan Johnson (43:18) won the men's sport class; Neil Redfern (43:13) was tops in the men's sport 30-39; Steve Martinson (45:30) won the men's sport 40-49; and David Miller (47:34) raced to first place in the men's sport 50 plus.
Joey Bowan won the men's novice with a time of 56:59; Brad Cusenbary won the men's novice 30-39 with a time of 48:37; and John Cowell topped the men's novice 40 plus division with a time of 46:15.
Hollice Kindred won the women's sport 18-29 with a time of 55:33, and Joan Dunham topped the women's 30 plus with a time of 52:28.
Kara Meyers earned the win in the women's novice 18-29 with a time of 57:53 and Cindie Hill won the women's novice 30 plus with a time of 59:12.
The juniors 9-and-under was won by Grant Murray, Wiley Thayer collected the win in the juniors 10-12 and Bernard Ramsey topped the junior 13-15 division.
Eric Havrilla won the junior 16-18 division.
The Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series will continue on June 27 with the third race of the series at Howelsen Hill.