Steamboat Springs The only thing better than taking a Las Vegas vacation is winning one, so Ian Prichard was excited -- and a bit tired -- after crossing the finish line at the Thunderhead Hill Climb in record time Wednesday night to earn a trip to Sin City.
Before Race 2 in the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series, race director Gretchen Sehler repeatedly announced that anyone setting a new male or female record would receive a trip to Las Vegas.
It is quite an incentive for riders to power up a 4.7-mile course that climbs 2,180 feet in elevation.
"It made it a little easier," Prichard said. "It's quite a reward."
Prichard finished in 35 minutes, 18 seconds, beating last year's record of 35:38, set by his friend Jamie Morgan.
Prichard nearly beat Sehler and Abi Slingsby to the top.
Prichard had about a seven-minute head start but Sehler drove a truck up the Why Not ski run.
Prichard and second-place finisher Barkley Robinson didn't participate in last year's Thunderhead Hill Climb because there were road racing in Denver.
The two members of Team Honey Stinger left their mark this year, finishing ahead of the field on the course that began at Gondola Square and ended near the top of Thunderhead Express.
Katherine Zambrana, a racer in the Pro/Open division, holds the women's record of 40:38. She made a run at breaking it Wednesday but finished fifth overall with a time of 41:05.
The next closest woman was Marie-Ange Anderson of Fraser, who took overall honors in the Women's Expert division with a time of 44:21.
After skiing at Winter Park Wednesday morning, Anderson headed to Steamboat with friend Jeff Martin to take part in the race.
Both racers compete in the Winter Park series, which runs on weekends. They wanted to get another race in between their regular ones in Winter Park, and Martin found the Steamboat series on the Internet.
"It was a very good race," Anderson said.
The weather cooperated Wednesday, much to Sehler's delight.
Temperatures were chilly, especially at the top of Thunderhead, where patches of snow are still visible. However, the rain that blanketed Steamboat earlier in the afternoon stayed away for the duration of Wednesday's race.
The next race in the Town Challenge Series is the Howelsen Hill Circuit on June 26.
Riders are asked to take note that it's on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday.