Town Challenge heads to Howelsen

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A complete course map for the Dog Days of Summer Cross-Country race can be found on the Web at: www.steamboatspri...>

Riders in today's Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series event will face more than 10 miles of grueling climbs along with challenging downhills as the summer-long series moves back to Howelsen Hill.

Gretchen Sehler, the series race director, said the Dog Days of Summer Cross-Country race utilizes the trail system at Howelsen Hill in a way that will test riders' skills and push them physically.

She said the winners of the top division will need to be able to handle the climbs on the way up, but she still thinks the race will be decided by the course's taxing downhill sections.

"If you have good downhill skills, it's going to be a definite advantage in this race," Sehler said. "We've had other races this season where the riders have to climb a little bit, then descend and then climb again. This race will be climb, climb, climb to the top, but once you get there, it will be all downhill."

The professional, expert and single speed classes will compete on a 10.2-mile loop that starts behind the horse stables and includes Brian's Worry, Lupine, the new Larry's trail, and Blair Witch. At that point, the top groups will split away from the rest of the field as they make their way to the top of the ride using Lane of Pain, Root Canal and Stairway to Heaven to reach the top of the ridge.

Once the riders reach the top they will take trails including Abby's, Forest Loop, MGM, Eye-2-Eye and Molly's - a trail that has never been used in a race before - back to the finish line.

The sport classes also will start behind the stables and use trails including Brian's Worry, Lupine and Larry's to Blair Witch. However, at the top of Blair Witch, the group will take a right turn and cut across and follow MGM, Eye-2-Eye and Molly's to complete the race.

That course is shorter and less challenging than the one the pros will use. It covers a shorter distance of about 8 miles.

The 6-and-under class will kick things off with a 5:25 p.m. start today. Then, a staggered start schedule will spread the field across the course, finishing with the professional class starting at 6 p.m.

"It should make for some really fun racing," Sehler said.

The race is the second and final event of the year at Howelsen Hill. The Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series still has races scheduled for Buffalo Pass on Aug. 20 and Mount Werner on Sept. 5. Riders can register for the Dog Days of Summer Cross-Country at the race site, prior to the start of the race.

-To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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