Root Canal racing

Howelsen's tricky terrain home for fifth race of season

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— The second half of the Town Challenge mountain bike race series kicks off Wednesday on the tricky mountain terrain of Howelsen Hill.

The race, the fifth of the eight race series, is named "Another Root Canal" because it uses one of Howelsen's more technical sections.

The course will test riders along a grueling loop that includes a half-mile section of single track crisscrossed with tree roots that inspired the name.

"We haven't raced the Root Canal section in the last two years," course designer Gretchen Sehler said. "It's a little more technical than some of the other trails at Howelsen."

But although that section is very technical, Sehler said that isn't the case with the entire course.

"The trail system on Emerald Mountain is pretty smooth," Sehler said. "This race isn't that technical except for that one section."

Sehler said the way she used the existing trail system in the course design might throw some of the racers off track.

"I love Howelsen Hill. It's my backyard," Sehler said. "I always suggest that racers pre-ride the course. Riders might think the course is going one way, but then I will take them a completely different direction."

The course is basically one big loop that starts and finishes behind the Howelsen Hill lodge. However, there are seven courses that will appeal to all the different ages and levels of riders taking part in the race.

The pro/open class will compete on a 10-mile course that uses bits and pieces of 16 different trails on Emerald, including MGM, 2-Way, Stairway to Heaven, Root Canal, Lyman's Luge, Hudson, Forest, Lupine and the Bluffs Overlook.

The riders in the other divisions will compete on shorter loops based on ability and age.

The first divisions will start the race at 5:36 p.m.

The pro/open riders are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the expert men, expert women, sport men, sport women and novice classes.

Sehler said she expects to see a motivated field of racers this week as the series moves into the final stretch of the season. After Wednesday's event, the Town Challenge will have three events left. Another cross-country race is planned for Howelsen on Aug. 2, the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb is scheduled for Aug. 16 and the final race, the Mount Werner Valley View Circuit will take place Aug. 25.

Riders can register until 5 p.m. today at the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services office for the reduced cost of $12 for adults, and $7 for youth.

Racers can also register the day of the race at Howelsen Hill Lodge. The race site registration fee is $16 for adults, and $11 for riders in youth divisions.

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