Bicyclists strut their stuff at festival

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— The normal revving of engines on cars driving downtown were replaced Sunday morning by the clicking of chains on gears as cyclists sped up and down Lincoln and Yampa avenues on the final day of the Steamboat Bike Festival.

Stretches of those roads were closed from 7:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. for criterium road races. One race was stopped, and others were delayed as several emergency calls went out that required ambulances to go through Lincoln Avenue.

"It makes you a little bit jumpy," said Peter Hudnut, 18, who was in the lead early in the men's recreational/women's expert race when it was stopped. "When you cut it short like that, it plays a little on the nerves. You've just got to calm down and hold your composure. Things happen like that."

The rest of the day went off without a hitch, but was stretched longer by the delays. The criterium road race started in front of the Double Z restaurant on Yampa Avenue and weaved in and out through 10th, 8th and 7th streets, with a long straightaway back down Lincoln Avenue.

"It's just great for the city to have this type of event," said Bill Stewart, 38, who has been to the festival before. "It's something different from normal, boring traffic going up and down the street. Plus, you get to see a bike criterium that you don't see every day."

Event organizer Kathleen Crislip counted more than 250 participants by midday Sunday, and she expected more for the later events.

Crislip was pleased with the overall results of the festival, which she started as "a way to give back to the cycling community." The event is free to participants through funding by Sore Saddle Cyclery and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. Several onlookers described pace driver Jon Hamby's job as the most fun in the event. Hamby led racers along the course on a black and silver 1998 Honda Hawk motorcycle, that was also up for sale. Hamby, a former racer who volunteered for the job this year, sped comfortably ahead of the pack, honking at stray bicycles and pedestrians who had wandered on to the closed circuit.

"It is pretty fun, it's a good time," Hamby said. "It's nice to be on the course and look out for the safety of the riders."

A large crowd watched from Sore Saddle and the Little Toots Park as the Toyota Team put on a spectacular aerial and ground display on their bicycles. The bike trickery continued to the next event, the Wheelie Criterium. The "last man standing" format quickly eliminated three riders whose front wheels touched the ground. The remaining contestants circled up 11th Avenue on one wheel and back around.

Most of the spectators watched the Junior Open, where children got a chance to maneuver an obstacle course. The children went through a cardboard replica of the downtown area, through an arch of balloons, past a cardboard forest and mountain range, and finally through a green tunnel, busting out a door of hanging colored paper shreds.

"It has been great," Crislip said.

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