Bike Festival rolls into town Friday

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A heart-pounding 1,900-foot vertical drop will challenge downhill racers and bring a fresh touch of excitement to the long-running Steamboat Springs Bike Festival this weekend.

Organizer Riley Polumbus said the best thing about the annual cycling weekend is that it will offer a little bit of everything, with a variety of events to entertain almost any rider, from BMX aerial shows to road criteriums and sprint races.

"We will have BMX stunt shows, parties and stuff for everybody," Polumbus said.

This is the first year that the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association has stepped in to run the event, which previously drew mostly local biking enthusiasts and a few out-of-town guests. Sore Saddle Cyclery ran the event in the past and will remain involved this year as one of the title sponsors.

This year, the chamber has joined forces with Cycle Cyndicate to bring a pair of Mountain States Circuit competitions to Steamboat. The Storm Peak Thunder will include a downhill race from the top of the ski mountain to the base Saturday and a cross-country mountain biking race Aug. 3. Both events are open to local riders.

Polumbus is happy to see the event growing, and she is even more pleased that organizers have kept the Steamboat cycling population involved with the annual event.

"We are expecting to have 600 people in town to compete in the events," Polumbus said. "But there will still be plenty of opportunities for the local biking community, which is very strong."

While most of events will continue to have a festive atmosphere, some will be slightly more competitive -- including the downhill race, cross country and observed trials.

The events will kick off Thursday with registration pick up.

Interested bikers can register online at www.cyclecynd-icate.com. There is also an on-line registration form that can be mailed in for the main events. Deadline to enter those events is Wednesday. Pre-registration will be required for the downhill, cross country and observed trials.

Cyclist will be able to register for most of the other events the day of the competition. Contact the chamber at 879-0880 with any registration questions.

On Friday, KFMU will host a kick-off party in front of Sore Saddle Cyclery. There also will be a BMX stunt show that night and street sprints.

Riders will get their first taste of the downhill and cross-country courses Friday during practice sessions.

The actual downhill race will take place on the Zig Zag trail from 8:30 a.m. to noon. That trail will be closed during the race.

Organizers are hoping the Storm Peak Thunder will become one of the premiere events in Colorado. In the downhill, riders will race 1,900 vertical feet from the top of the mountain to the finish line at the bottom of the hill in Ski Time Square.

There also will be a BMX show at the mountain, observed trials and other biking events Saturday.

Sunday's events will be highlighted by a grueling cross-country race in the hills on and around Mount Werner.

Other weekend events will include a fun bikers' decathlon, good food and special performances by We're Not Clowns.

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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