Steamboat Springs When Michelle Isaeff finished the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb, she swore up and down that it's definitely the most challenging leg of the Town Challenge.
"By far," she said. "It's a grunt. It's long and steep and it doesn't end."
Isaeff was one of more than 75 competitors Wed-nesday, to make the climb to the top of the Pass. Competing in the Women's 30+ Sport division, Isaeff, who finished third, made the 11-mile trek from the bottom to the top in one hour, 38 minutes and 57 seconds.
Kate Rench won the Wom-en's 30+ division with a time of 1:33:02, while Jennifer Kerr finished second in 1:37:03
"You get a high for a while, then you know you're going to sleep really well," she said. "I had a blast but I am glad it's over with."
Even Barkley Robinson, who has dominated the Men's Pro/Open Division all year, conceded that the Buffalo Pass Climb is the toughest race of the year.
"This is the hardest effort all year," he said. "It's an hour of all out climbing."
Barkley, who finished first in his division with a time of 1:02:25, said he pulled away early in his race, but both second-place finisher Nate Bird and third-place finisher Mark Iverson kept up with him for most of the race.
"The three of us battled," he said. "Those guys climb super strong. I could never let off because they were on me the whole way."
Bird finished with the course in 1:03:49 and Iverson finished in 1:04:39.
All competitors in the sport and pro divisions raced from the bottom to the top. Novice divisions went from Dry Lake Campground to the top of Buffalo Pass Road, about an 8.5-mile ride, while children's divisions had shorter races at the bottom of the Pass.
"The real long up hill portions I had to go a little slower," said Sarah Dixon, who finished first in the Women's 16-18 year-old division in 1:03:54, four minutes ahead of second-place finisher Mary Rose. "It was really long but really fun. I would say overall it was a good race."
The next and last Town Challenge race of the season is Aug. 25. It will be the Mount Werner Loop.
-To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org