Steamboat Springs Despite several crashes, a couple of brushes with trees, a disintegrated front end and a several hundred yard sprint to the finish, locals Zach Ruppel and Paul Rose accomplished something that's never been done in the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Mountain Biking Series.
The duo - dubbed Tandem United - finished the 8-mile Boneyard Cross Country on a tandem bike.
With Ruppel manning the back of the bike and "providing the power," Rose was left to steer and man the breaks.
It left them with some interesting situations.
With switchbacks abound on the last part of the course, the two had several encounters with the trees. Then, in the last bit of the course, the speed they'd built up and the design of the bike couldn't hold up against some pesky rocks.
The result was a front tire beyond repair.
"Hands down, the downhill was the hardest," Rose said. "We smoked everyone on the uphill. I think on the uphill we were winning by a couple of minutes. We just blew up on the downhill - literally."
Ruppel and Rose decided a couple of days ago to do a Town Challenge race on a tandem bike. Unfortunately, they thought Wednesday's race was taking place next week.
Nevertheless, the two mounted up for Wednesday's race with little experience on a tandem bike.
"We had to work the kinks out on the trail," Rose said. "We had some time in the parking lot, but that's it."
While the race left them the last finishers across the line, both said it's something they'd consider doing again.
"Oh yeah," Ruppel said about riding a tandem again. "We might want to get some shocks next time though."
For those racers competing solo, the race provided an interesting course that was shortened due to possible weather problems.
Still, two familiar faces finished at the top once again.
Barkley Robinson took the lead outright in the men's pro/open division and cruised to victory with an unofficial time of 40 minutes, 5 seconds.
Robinson took the early lead against Carbondale's Len Zanni and was able to hold him off for the entire course.
"It was neck and neck the whole way," Robinson said. "It was the same on the downhill. I was able to hold him off by knowing the trail so well."
Zanni finished second with a time of 41:07 and Brad Bingham finished third in 42:45.
"It's great," Zanni said of his first Town Challenge experience. "Anytime you come to another mountain town, there's tough competition. Barkley had a great ride."
On the women's side, Kelly Boniface finished in first for the second consecutive week.
While Boniface said she didn't feel as strong as last week, she was still able to take the lead from Katie Lindquist on the first uphill and hold on for the win.
"I caught up to the back part of the expert men and that kept me going," said Boniface, who finished in 51:25.
Lindquist finished second with a time of 55:06 and Jessica Maniaci finished third in 55:39.
The next Town Challenge race is the Aug. 15 Buffalo Pass Hill Climb. Children's events begin at 5 p.m. and the adults start at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.townchallenge.com.