The snow, rain and mud in Steamboat Springs are sure signs that the mountain biking season is still a few weeks away.
But it's never too early to start thinking about the Town Challenge Mountain Biking Series -- especially if you want to save a few dollars this summer.
Race director Gretchen Sehler said the first race of the season is scheduled to take place May 28 at Howelsen Hill. However, bikers who want to save money on a season pass need to show up at a registration party at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant on May 14.
At that time, adult riders can purchase a season pass for $75 and a children's pass will be $35. After that date, the price to race in the series for the season will increase to $80 for an adult and $40 for a child.
"It's the best value going," Sehler said of the pass. "The cost to compete went up a little this year, but the price of the passes will not increase if you register at this party."
Mountain bike racers who elect to pay week-to-week will have to reach a little deeper into their wallets in 2003.
The cost for a single race will increase from $10 last year to $11 this season for riders who register before 5 p.m. the day before the race at the Parks and Recreational Services building. The cost to ride in a youth division will increase from $5 to $6.
Riders who wait until the day of the race to register will pay $15 -- the same as last year.
In addition to the slight price increase, riders also should be aware of a few changes in the dates of events.
In the past, the race series events, with the exception of the final race of the season, had taken place Wednesday nights. This year, five of the series races will take place Wednesdays and two -- June 26 and Aug. 20 events -- will take place Thursdays.
"We moved the races because of the free concerts at Howelsen," Sehler said. "We want to use the same venue for our races, which would cause a problem and many of the riders in the race series like to go to the concerts. So it just made sense to move to another day."
The final race of the eight-race series will be held Sept. 5 at Mount Werner.
In addition to the races, Sehler and her husband, Marc, also will hold youth clinics every other Monday during the series.
The clinics will begin at 5:30 p.m. and are open to riders between 8 and 18. The clinics will cover that week's racecourse, technical riding skills, bike maintenance and bike safety, as well as fitness and nutrition.
Last year, the Town Challenge Race Series averaged about 180 racers per event. It was the second best year in the series' 14-year history.