New Challenge

Third race in series at Howelsen on Wednesday

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The Town Challenge Mountain Bike series will return to Howelsen Hill on Wednesday for the third race of the season.

Race Director Gretchen Sehler says it will take just more than an hour for the top riders to complete the 10-mile course during the Eye-To-Eye Cross Country Race.

Racing will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the 9-and-under class.

The adult classes will begin with the novice men at 6 p.m. The open pro division is scheduled to begin at 6:17 p.m.

The course will use Howelsen Hill's complex network of trails.

Riders can expect to be challenged by runs such as Robbie's Cut, Mile Run, Stairway to Heaven and Ridge Road to reach the top of Emerald Mountain. Once they get to the top, the riders will head down the course along trails such as Lane of Pain, Brian's Worry and the Bluffs on their way to the base.

Sehler expected to have the full course marked by late Monday afternoon. She said Steamboat's wet weather put her behind schedule for this event, but she plans to be finished in plenty of time for riders to pre-ride the course.

"This is the first cross country of the season." Sehler said. "I'm not sure how many riders will turn out for this race. It will really depend on the weather."

But if the weather clears up by midweek, Sehler is expecting another large field loaded with top riders.

The race will start and finish behind the Howelsen Hill Lodge. Between those two points there will be plenty of challenging climbs, some tough single track and a few roads.

"I plan on using a few new trails in this race," Sehler said.

Sehler, who sets all the courses for the Town Challenge events, rarely sets the race course the same from year to year. Typically, she will use a few new trails to give each race a different feel.

Sehler said this week's rain should only make the course better for Wednesday's event. The moisture will help keep the dust down and give riders a fast surface for the race. But Sehler would like to have a couple of dry days leading up to the race to make sure things don't get too soggy on Emerald.

Riders registering for the race before 5 p.m. Tuesday can enter the race at a cost of $11 for adults and $6 for the youth divisions.

The cost to enter after that deadline is $15 for adults and $10 for youth divisions.

The series opened May 26 with the Howelsen Hill Bluffs Circuit. The series continued June 9 with the Thunderhead Hill Climb at Mount Werner.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com.

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