Buff Pass will test riders' endurance

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— Eleven miles of twisting paved and dirt roads leading from the bottom of Buffalo Pass to Summit Lake will separate the top riders in Wednesday's Town Challenge Mountain Bike race.

"We will have riders show up for this one who don't show up for any of the other races all season," said Gretchen Sehler, racer director. "The hill climbs always seem to draw a few more people."

Especially when the race is the Buff Pass Hill Climb -- one of the oldest races in the eight-event series.

For years, the event was the season closer for the Steamboat series, but in an effort to avoid early fall snow, the race was moved up on the calendar last year.

However, an unseasonable winter blast forced riders to power through rain, sleet and snow in the 2002 hill climb.

Sehler is hoping the weather will be better this time around, but she said riders should be prepared for any conditions.

She also advises riders to show up early because the event's junior classes begin at 5 p.m. and adult classes at 5:30 p.m.

The hill climb is the seventh of eight races this season.

The final event will take place Sept. 5 at Mount Werner.

That race, a criterium, will begin at 5:30 p.m.

"We start losing light this time of year," Sehler said. "So we need to start earlier."

She expects a large turnout for the race.

While the professional, expert and sport classes will compete along an 11-mile course, there are several starting points for the race.

The novice riders will ride a shorter eight-mile course while the 9-and under, 10-12 and 13-15 riders will start at different points along the course.

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