Riders ready to race

Town Challenge kicks off Wednesday at Howelsen Hill

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— Howelsen Hill is ready to ride.

"People are amped," said Gretchen Sehler, director of the popular Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series. "Once things dry out, there is no slow period. People are ready to ride single track."

The Town Challenge series begins Wednesday with the Howelsen Hill Bluffs Circuit. A week of warm, dry weather cleared the trails, allowing Sehler to set the race course.

On Sunday, there was a steady stream of mountain bikers headed toward the downtown trails.

"Actually, it's dried to a little bit dusty," Sehler said about the course conditions. "We've done a little trail maintenance. It's great."

The Howelsen Hill Bluffs Circuit is the first in the eight-race series. The youths will kick things off, starting their race at 5:30 p.m. The adults will leave in stages beginning at 6 p.m. The start lines will be by Howelsen Lodge or the yurt, depending on age.

The circuit race is a great one for spectators because the adult racers will be riding one to three laps, so they will pass by the base area at least once.

It is recommended that racers pre-ride the course so they don't get lost Wednesday.

"I added a mile to the course," Sehler said. "Last year, we had 90 people on the course at one time, and that's too many for a three-mile course. Now, it's a 4.3-mile course."

All ages and ability levels are encouraged to sign up. Many have pre-registered, but early registration is open at a discounted price through 5 p.m. today at the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department on Howelsen Parkway.

The early registration fee is $12 and $7 for youth. Race-day registration is $16 for adults and $11 for youth.

"Last year, we had 200 racers," Sehler said. "I would imagine we will have that many, if not more."

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