Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Dane Dixson pushes away from the starting line of the Rabbit Ears Time Trail on Thursday evening. Riders were part of the Steel Club, an organization meant to help support the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cycling program.
The Steel Club supports youth cycling in Steamboat. The club has five more rides this year. Membership is $35.
For more information check out www.steamboatcycl...>
Steamboat Springs Jamie Gay, Jeffery Gay and Linnea Dixson couldn't stop smiling as they stood along U.S. Highway 40 atop the western summit of Rabbit Ears Pass east of Steamboat Springs on Thursday evening.
Their legs were Jell-O thanks a grueling dash up the intimidating pass's flanks on road bikes. But they couldn't stop smiling.
"It's painful," Jamie Gay said. "It's fun, and it's painful."
The trio was among half a dozen members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cycling team that took part in the Rabbit Ears Time Trail. The time trails are sponsored by the Steel Club, which raises money for the Winter Sport Club's mountain biking teams.
A field of 21 Steel Club and Winter Sports Club riders started in 30-second intervals at the base of the pass on the highway. Despite starting well back among the competitors, Barkley Robinson powered past everyone. He seemingly flew up the pass faster than some timid drivers and finished in a time of 35 minutes, 8 seconds. His average speed of 12.3 miles per hour was about 1.5 miles per hour faster than anyone else in the field.
Josh Smullins was second at 39:51, and Jamie Morgan was third at 40:17.
The event wasn't just about winning, though. Instead, it was about helping build the youth cycling programs in Steamboat.
The $35 Steel Club membership allows members to ride with the club in five more events this summer. The next one is a time trail June 17 on River Road east of Steamboat.
"It was a chance for high school-age kids to train up the pass. Man versus mountain versus time clock," said Winter Sports Club team organizer Ben Clark. "The Steel Club is open to anyone that wants to join, 18 years and older, and it's all to support junior cycling."
The Winter Sports Club members showed their appreciation Thursday. They rode decked out in new threads - bright blue racing uniforms they plan to haul all across the region.
The team already had a strong start to the season at a Mountain States Cup mountain biking event in Angel Fire, N.M.
"We're trying to travel more this year," Dixson said. "We're trying to put a bigger name out for ourselves."
Most of the teenagers powering up Rabbit Ears on Thursday also spend their winters traveling the region for skiing and snowboarding competitions.
But their summer infatuation isn't about working up for ski season.
"It's two different sports for me," Jamie Gay said. "It's great to go into ski season straight from biking, but I bike because I love to bike, and I ski because I love to ski.
"It's just fun."
And that, she said, laughing among her friends after finally catching her breath, is what she loves so much, even during the most painful parts of a ride up Rabbit Ears.
"It's fun before and after. And sometimes during," she said. "People always ask, 'Why do you do that?' The truth is, you don't always really know why you do it. You just do it, and afterward, you feel amazing."