Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs' corps of competitive mountain bikers put a close to the final of eight summer Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series races as the sun cast its final rays of Friday evening light onto Thunderhead Peak.
That always makes for interesting riding when embarking on a screaming downhill section from 9,080 feet.
"I was coming down Valley View and I couldn't see a thing, - if I was on the trail or not - with the sun in my eyes," men's sport 50-plus racer Scott Schlapkohl said.
"I was just following right behind Scott, hoping he knew," fellow division racer Peter Daley added.
At the finish line at the Thunderhead chairlift base, many weary riders like men's expert 35-39 rider Dan Foote, who had raced in every town challenge event, said eight races was enough.
"My back's killing me from all this racing," said men's expert 40-plus racer Dave Rudnick. "Now I can go out for a pleasure ride instead of red-lining it."
Racers enjoyed a fast ride on what Rudnick described simply as "short, good riding with a super downhill," as they (all pro/open, expert men and women, youths 16 to 18, sport men and women and novice men divisions) raced a single, 7.9-mile lap up Thunderhead Peak via Zig Zag and down Spur Run, Valley View and Boulevard trails and the Bashor service road.
Barkley Robinson wrapped up the pro/open division with the top overall time of 41 minutes, 14 seconds - missing the record time he set a year ago by one second. Brad Bingham followed in second (41:58) and Chad Gruben took third (44:28).
Kelly Boniface won her fourth consecutive race with the fastest female time in 52:28, Kate Rench took second (57:02) and Katie Lindquist, the expert women's division series winner, took third in 58:06.
Robinson and Bingham, who have contested the races' top spot all season, shook hands as the sun set on Thunderhead and shared a single congratulation.
"It was good season," they said to one another.
Routt County Riders invites interested volunteers to a final trail-work day, from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday to complete the new singletrack trail on Emerald Mountain in honor of Larry Johnson. Meet at the Blackmere Drive gate at the top of Routt Street. Work gloves are recommended and water will be provided.