Bike race goes vertical

Buffalo Pass Climb next part of Town Challenge

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A mountain biker climbs up Buffalo Pass during last year's hill climb. The Buff Pass Hill Climb, one of the toughest races of the summer, is a tradition in the Town Challenge Series.

— The 2006 Buffalo Pass Hill Climb has arrived for Steamboat Springs Town Challenge mountain bike racers.

With separate age categories for men and women in four skill-level groups, tonight's race begins with children's divisions at 5:30 p.m. at the bottom of Buffalo Pass.

Town Challenge series director Gretchen Sehler said that after driving the course Monday, she expects the climb to be fast and fun.

"It's not so fun to drive," she said. "But it is bumpy and looks like it will run fast."

Depending on the age group, competitors will climb to various points on Buffalo Pass. In the Pro/Open, Expert and Sport divisions, all riders will make the 11-mile ride to the top of Buffalo Pass. The climb encompasses more than 3,000 vertical feet.

Unlike previous Town Challenge races, the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb will not have staggered starts. Children's events start at 5 p.m., and adult races begin at 5:30 p.m.

"The trail is big enough that it can handle more riders," Sehler said.

The Buffalo Pass Hill Climb used to be the final race of the year for the Town Challenge series, but Sehler said series officials made it the second-to-last race this year because of weather concerns.

"I can't remember a year we've done it, and it didn't snow," she said. "This year, we moved it up, so hopefully the weather will agree."

Still, Sehler encouraged participants to take clothes for cold weather. Registration is available until 5 p.m. today at the start area. The race costs $16 for adults and $11 for children.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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