Cyclists get in gear

More than 150 riders come to first Town Challenge Series race

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For those who have spent months training for the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Series season, be polite to Barkley Robinson.

He's only been on his mountain bike "a few times this year." On Wednesday, he won the pro/open division of the Howelsen Hill Bluffs Circuit in 54 minutes, 19 seconds unofficially, navigating the 3.2-mile loop four times.

To his credit, however, he has more than enough miles on his road bike. He resumed training in March, and Robinson, who races professionally, began his competitive road-racing season several weeks ago.

"I plan on doing most of the town races and regional road races," Robinson said. "Town Challenge is very fun and challenging. This is a super-competitive field."

Robinson, Ian Prichard and Mark-O Ross-Bryant were close after the first lap, but Robinson pulled ahead of runner-up Prichard and Ross-Bryant, who finished nearly 30 seconds behind Robinson, on the second lap.

On Wednesday, 170 racers of all ages and levels turned out for the first of eight races in the Steamboat Springs series. The trails on Mount Werner are not open and ready for use, but race director Gretchen Sehler set up a loop that held up well on the lower portion of Howelsen Hill.

"The trails are in good shape right now," Robinson said.

Wednesday's races, as usual, started with the youth races. In all, 30 boys and girls competed in the youth divisions. Adam Parke, 15, won his division with a time of 12:05 to open the season in successful fashion.

"I just like racing," he said. "I took the lead right at the start."

Parke, a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club when the snow is flying, is a member of the Moots Uvex team during the summer. Parke, a Nordic combined athlete, said his SSWSC coaches encourage the skiers to stay active and compete year-round.

When Jessica Stevenson and Matt Stevenson moved to Steamboat from Bellingham, Wash., in November, they left behind an active mountain-biking community. What Jessica Stevenson didn't realize until she lined up for Wednesday's race was how organized and active a mountain-bike community there is in Steamboat.

"When we first moved to town, we were looking for mountain-biking opportunities," she said. "We heard about the Town Challenge series. This was my first race ever. I was nervous, but I'm so glad I did it."

Jessica Stevenson competed in the women's sport division and crossed the finish line with a time of 42:25 after she and another racer sprinted toward the finish line.

"It's more of a downhill scene up there," Jessica Stevenson said about Belling--ham. "It's more cross-country and endurance riding here. It sure was fun."

The next Town Challenge race is the Mount Werner Thunderhead Hill Climb on June 8. The youths will begin at 5:20 p.m., and the adults will begin at 6 p.m. The adults and youths ages 16 to 18 will climb 4.3 miles from Gondola Square to the top of the gondola.

Those not already registered for the season can preregister at the Parks and Recreational Service Building on Howelsen Parkway before 5 p.m. June 7. Otherwise, people can register at the race site, but they are reminded that registration closes 15 minutes before the adults begin.

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

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