Rising to the Challenge

Racing series wraps up with Valley View Cross Country

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Neil Ganz joked about pulling a reverse Lance Armstrong.

The men's novice racer was the final mountain biker to finish Friday's race. He was talking retirement while at the bottom of the pack instead of the top.

But Ganz did have the distinction of bringing the 2005 Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Mountain Bike series to an end with his last pedal across the finish line in the Valley View Cross Country race at Steamboat Ski Area.

More than 110 racers turned out for the season finale, which took a majority of mountain bikers from the Thunderhead chairlift to the top of the gondola and back down.

The course was a new one for the Town Challenge series, and for spectators, the finish was one of the best race director Gretchen Sehler has designed. The racers were on a quick descent on Bashor Road. The riders emerged from the aspens close to the finish line at near top speeds.

Some riders chose to take it easy coming in. Others, such as pro/open racers Marko Ross-Bryant and Essam Welch, who broke his collarbone racing earlier this season, chose to sprint to the flour finish line.

On Friday, Welch just edged Ross-Bryant.

But the overall title this season went to Barkley Robinson. He finished with the maximum 140 points, winning seven of the eight races. Each racer was allowed to drop his or her lowest score.

Robinson had the pro/open division locked up before Friday's race, but several divisional titles were up for grabs Friday.

The winner of each division receives free entry into the 2006 series, and Sehler said this was the most competitive year she can remember.

In the women's sport division for 19- to 29-year-old racers, Emily Keiss of Craig and Steamboat's Kiki Hutchins were tied heading into Friday. Both knew where the other stood.

"I went as fast as I could," said Keiss, who won Friday's race and the division. "We were together at the very beginning, but I pulled away pretty quickly."

Keiss said Hutchins is faster on the downhills, so she knew she needed a nice lead on the climb to the top of the gondola. Keiss was able to hold on, winning in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 3 seconds. Hutchins was across in 1:03:14.

After the race, Hutchins congratulated the young Keiss, 17, who went from racing in the youth 16-18 division last year to the women's sport division this season.

Three points were all that separated Heathre West from Jen Murphy heading into Friday's finale. West won the women's novice 19-34 race by more than two minutes, but Murphy held on to win the overall title based on her more consistent results.

"It was competitive between the two of us all season," Murphy said.

West said she raced better at Steamboat Ski Area, while Murphy pulled ahead on the events at Howelsen Hill.

"We're pretty even," West said. "She's a better technical rider, and I think I'm a better climber. Jen's been such a good competitor."

In the men's sport 40-49 division, Bob Stack and Robin Craigen tied for the season. In the children's 8-and-under division, Koby Vargas and Jett Seymour tied, as well.

In addition to Robinson, the following riders finished with the maximum 140 points: Bo Randolph (men's expert 19-29), Nate Juden (men's expert 30-34), Wiley Thayer (men's sport 19-29) and Sean Geisler (children 11-12).

Valley View Cross Country results

Valley View Cross Country

Top 3 (unofficial results)

Pro/Open -- 1. Barkley Robinson, 42:27; 2. Essam Welch, 45:42; 3. Marko Ross-Bryant, 45:43.

Men's Expert 19-29 -- 1. Bo Randolph, 44:50; 2. Timothy Nylen, 48:59; 3. Danny Armstrong, 49:24.

Men's Expert 30-34 -- 1. Nate Juden, 46:04; 2. Jeff Snook, 47:56; 3. Craig Rench, 48:06.

Men's Expert 35-39 -- 1. Chris Mitchell, 46:40; 2. David High, 47:00; 3. Kyle Lawton, 48:46.

Men's Expert 40+ - 1. Marc Sehler, 48:04; 2. Dan Chovan, 49:00; 3. Michael Loomis, 49:38.

Women's Expert -- 1. Karen Tremaine, 51:53; 2. Marin Campbell, 54:14; 3. Julie Franklin, 54:15.

Men's Sport 19-29 -- 1. Wiley Thayer, 47:43; 2. Jeff Vandrey, 52:04.

Men's Sport 30-34 -- 1. Peter Munson, 50:24; 2. Travis Taylor, 51:18; 3. Anthony Urbick, 51:51.

Men's Sport 35-39 -- 1. Scott Kempers, 50:03; 2. Ted Morton, 51:11; 3. Daniel Foote, 51:37.

Men's Sport 40-49 -- 1. Mel Stewart, 52:22; 2. Bob Stack, 52:26; 3. Robin Craigen, 52:55.

Men's Sport 50+ - 1. Tom Keenan, 53:08; 2. Steve Fleckenstein, 1:02:18; 3. Lanny Lambrecht, 1:07:26.

Women's Sport 19-29 -- 1. Emily Keiss, 1:02:03; 2. Kiki Hutchins, 1:03:14.

Women's Sport 30+ - 1. Erin Vargas, 59:59; 2. Megan Morgan, 1:01:17; 3. Brenna Willis, 1:02:16.

Men's Novice 30-39 -- 1. Harry Naused, 1:03:39; 2. Kevin Chapman, 1:03:56; 3. Matt Jacquart, 1:14:56.

Men's Novice 40+ - 1. Kris Hagenbuch, 55:19; 2. Chris Selby, 1:06:40; 3. Sean Colgan, 1:14:05.

Women's Novice 19-34 -- 1. Heathre West, 43:03; 2. Jen Murphy, 45:46.

Women's Novice 35+ - 1. Kristia Check-Hill, 49:29.

Youth Boys 16-18 -- 1. Adam Parke, 28:39; 2. Sam Chovan, 35:07.

Miller Light -- 1. Ricky Sasak, 23:06; 2. Brent Denis, 25:01; 3. Julie Hagenbuch, 32:20.

Youth Boys 13-15 -- 1. Carter Miller, 17:00; 2. David Keiss, 17:55.

Youth Girls 13-15 -- 1. Anna Marno, 21:09; 2. Jamie Gay, 21:58.

Children 11-12 -- 1. Sean Geisler, 4:28; 2. Jeffery Gay, 4:30; 3. Zeb Tipton, 6:02.

Children 9-10 -- 1. Evan Weinman, 1:09; 2. Garrett Denney, 1:15.

Children 8 and under -- 1. Koby Vargas, NT; 2. Andrew Keiss, NT.

2005 season champions

Barkley Robinson (Pro/Open)

Bo Randolph (Men's Expert 19-29)

Nate Juden (Men's Expert 30-34)

Brad White (Men's Expert 35-39)

Marc Sehler (Men's Expert 40+)

Karen Tremaine (Women's Expert)

Wiley Thayer (Men's Sport 19-29)

Peter Munson (Men's Sport 30-34)

Pj Wharton (Men's Sport 35-39)

Robin Craigen/Bob Stack (Men's Sport 40-49)

Steve Colby (Men's Sport 50+)

Emily Keiss (Women's Sport 19-29)

Erin Vargas (Women's Sport 30+)

Harry Naused (Men's Novice 30-39)

Kris Hagenbuch (Men's Novice 40+)

Jen Murphy (Women's Novice 19-34)

Kristia Check-Hill (Women's Novice 35+)

Ricky Sasak (Miller Light)

Adam Parke (Youth Boys 16-18)

David Keiss (Youth Boys 13-15)

Katherine Ingalls (Youth Girls 13-15)

Sean Geisler (Children 11-12)

Trent Naused (Children 9-10)

Jett Seymour/Koby Vargas (Children 8 and under)

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