Town Challenge ends today

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The 2003 Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series concludes today with the Mount Werner Circuit at the Steamboat Ski Area.

With daylight dwindling, the final race of the season will begin 30 minutes earlier than usual for children and adults on the circuit course near the base of the gondola.

Children can expect to start at 5 p.m. Adults should be near the start area at 5:30 p.m.

Racers will start behind the SportsStalker in Gondola Square and go through the plaza. They will go up the mountain on Short Cut to the bottom of Bashor before descending on the face of Headwall to the start and finish area.

A circuit means racers will do multiple laps on the same course. The number of loops is determined by classification.

Novice racers will complete two, and the pro/open division racers will have to do four laps. Everyone else will do three. Each loop is two miles, race director Gretchen Sehler said.

"It's not real technical as race courses go, and there isn't a whole lot of climbing," Sehler said. "There is some climbing, but it isn't the outrageous vertical we get in our other races."

Starting the race earlier, and ending the season with a shorter circuit course, as opposed to the longer Buffalo Pass Hill Climb, gives race participants ample time get ready for the season-ending party, Sehler said.

She also moved the race to a Friday night to avoid school and work schedules for the most part.

"We try to accommodate the racers," she said. "I don't know of any other series that has a finale like this. To me, this shows how much of a local series this is. It's really kind of neat."

The season-ending party has evolved much like the series. With the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb serving as the finale during the earlier years of the series, a racer that lived at the base of Buffalo Pass hosted a potluck dinner for those on the small participant list.

The host left Steamboat, and the party moved to Sore Saddle Cyclery. The series, however, has outgrown that venue through the years. Now, the season-ending party is held at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill.

This year's party will again be of the potluck variety with slideshows, award presentations and drawings. The party is expected to start at 7 p.m., but awards won't be given away until 9 p.m. so that Sehler and the series volunteers can tabulate final results.

Spectators are encouraged to attend the series finale at Mount Werner. With racers making multiple laps through Gondola Square, the Mount Werner Circuit makes for great viewing, Sehler said.

And with several overall titles up for grabs, the season-ending race has competitive importance, as well.

In the Men's Novice 30-39, Ross Bywater leads Darrin Fryer by one point. In the Men's Sport 35-39, Brain Paul and Matt Heydon are tied with 101 points. Coury Armstrong has 98 points.

In the Men's Sport 40-49, Dave Carley, Robin Craigen, Tom Keenan and Kris Boyce all have a chance to win, being separated by 23 points between the four.

In the Women's Expert, Liz Rostermundt has a 109 to 106 lead over Kristen Cannon.

In the Youth Boys 13-15, Bo Randolph has the lead, but four points is all the separates Adam Parke and Wiley Thayer for second place.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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