Steamboat Town Challenge returns to Emerald

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If you go

What: Emerald Beetlekill Cross-Country, a Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series event

When: Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. today; children’s race begins at 5:25 p.m.; adult race heats begin at 6 p.m.

Where: Race starts at Howelsen Hill Lodge

Cost: Day-of registration is $26 for adults and $16 for children

Online: www.townchallenge.com

— The fifth Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series race of the season also might represent the last opportunity in the near future for riders to enjoy the Quarry Mountain trail.

Logging operations on Em­­erald Mountain have been postponed until Thursday to allow for today’s Emerald Beetlekill Cross-Country race. The logging operation is cutting down and removing stands of dead and dying lodgepole pines, victims of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

Registration for today’s race begins at 4:30 p.m. at Howelsen Hill Lodge. Children’s events go off at 5:25 p.m.

Because the race goes up a longer stretch of Bluff’s Trail, the women’s novice and youth 13 to 15 classes will begin at 5:35 p.m. The pro/open division will begin at 6 p.m. with the rest of the divisions to follow.

There will be a post-race party at The Tap House Sports Grill.

“We get to get back into my favorite place to ride,” Town Challenge series director Gret­chen Sehler said. “You have so many different options, and the trails aren’t too steep.”

The pro/open, expert, singlespeed, sport, youth 16 to 18 and men’s novice will cover 9.47 miles. The course will go up the lower leg of Bluff’s Trail onto multiple Emerald Mountain trails. Riders will ascend Brian’s Worry and Lupine, then on to Blackmer Drive to the Quarry. They’ll also go on Blair Witch, the Quarry Mountain Trail, Forest Loop, Hudson, 2-way and the Upper Meadow, among others.

It also will be the first time the series has raced on the Quarry Mountain trail.

“They opened up a section for us, and they’re closing it on Thursday,” Sehler said. “So we won’t be able to use it again until they’re out of their logging.”

In addition to the ride up and across Emerald Mountain, Sehler said a unique aspect of today’s race is its downhill portion. After plenty of climbing, riders will be able to let loose for an extended period of downhill.

“Somebody that rode it (Monday) said it’s a just a killer downhill,” Sehler said. “You get up there, and you just have all the way down. It just keeps going and going and going. People are really going to like the downhill.”

For full course maps, specific start times and other information, visit www.townchallenge.com.

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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