Ride around the clock

24 Hours of Steamboat mountain bike race wraps up at noon today

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— Clark Stewart felt guilty. Waiting at Mount Werner's base after completing two laps during the first hours of the Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat was an unusual treat.

"I had lobster bisque and a hot dog bun with peanut butter, honey and bananas," Stewart said. The "hot dog bun special" was expected. The lobster bisque was a surprise, albeit it a nice one, that he felt bad about eating.

"It was still warm," he said. "It was good."

Stewart is on a team with Craig Rench in the men's 24-hour duo division of the 3rd annual Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat. Rench's wife is a chef at Cafe Diva, which is why the lobster bisque showed up in the team tent.

With the food taken care of, all Stewart and Craig Rench need to worry about is mountain biking for 24 hours. The duo began at noon Saturday and will take turns riding until noon today.

"We're going two laps on, two laps off," Stewart said, sitting beneath a tent, wearing shorts and flip flops. "It allows your teammate longer rest time, so we can stay fresher."

The start of the Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat coincided with the opening of the Steamboat Ski Area for summer activities. On Saturday, men and women climbed from the base of Mount Werner to the top of the gondola and rode back down, marking one lap on their mountain bikes.

The solo riders, and some duo riders, took off for another lap. Those on a team handed off a small, wooden baton to teammates.

It is a process that was repeated through the night and will continue today -- rain or shine.

The clouds that loomed

over the skies around Steamboat never opened above Steamboat Ski Area on Saturday. Stewart said he felt sprinkles, but didn't get poured on -- at least he hadn't by 9 p.m.

The mountain bike trails received rain between Wed-

nesday's Town Challenge mountain bike race and Saturday's start of the Rio 24-hour race.

"The course is in great shape," said Gretchen Sehler, one of the race organizers.

Several of the racers in this year's event opted for the 12-hour race instead of the full-day format.

Peter Daley and Peter Daley -- a father and son duo team -- were in good shape halfway through the race Saturday.

"It's just a treat to be able to ride with him," Peter Daley, Sr. said about riding with his 15-year-old son. "You don't get a chance to compete with your kid a whole lot."

The 12-hour racers finished at midnight, but those in the 24-hour race won't be done until noon today, and spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer them on.

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

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