Series to wrap up at Mount Werner

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— The last chance for area mountain bikers to compete in the 2006 Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series is Friday.

The first children's division in the Mount Werner Valley View Cross Country race starts at 5 p.m. at the base of the Thunderhead chairlift. The pro/open division starts at 5:33 p.m., followed by the expert, sport, youth 16 to 18 and novice men's divisions, which will race to Thunderhead on a challenging eight-mile loop.

"Some people really like racing on the mountain," Town Challenge director Gretchen Sehler said. "This race isn't as long as some of the others, but it's the only race we race down Valley View. It's about 1,500 feet of climbing."

Adjusting to shorter summer days with the earlier start, Sehler also said the course was introduced last year to be between 10 and 15 minutes shorter than the series' other cross country races. Steamboat's Barkley Robinson holds the course's fastest time of 42 minutes, 27 seconds.

"It's a course where people know what's coming up, without the twists and turns like on Emerald (Mountain)," Sehler said. "It's one way up and one way down."

Competitors can register until 5 p.m. Thursday at the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Office, 245 Howelsen Parkway. The cost is $12.

Racers also can register beginning at 4 p.m. Friday at the race site for $16.

As the season's series finale, Sehler invited anyone who has raced in a 2006 Town Challenge race to attend the end-of-season potluck party starting at 7 p.m. Friday at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. She encouraged racers to bring food according to the their division: experts, hot dish; sport/youths, dessert or salad; and novice, appetizer.

With four race starts needed to qualify for the overall point standings and not all division winners yet decided, Sehler said the point winners from each division will be announced at the party and awarded season passes for the 2007 Town Challenge series.

"We'll have major prizes in the raffle in addition to the regular race raffle," Sehler said, mentioning the grand prize of a new Moots Cycles frame. "I know of no other race in town that does that. It's the best swag that there is, but you must be present to win. This party is a tradition that's been going for a long time"

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