For full results from Wednesday's race, click here.
Steamboat Springs Antonio Jarana got his first taste of the rivalries — friendly rivalries, usually — at Steamboat Springs’ Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series last summer when he assaulted the course at the year’s first event, the Marabou Cross-Country race.
A year later, he said he had grown stronger, was better on his bike and — after fighting through the roller-coaster terrain of the Steamboat-area ranch — still thrilled to be back in the saddle.
“I like to race. It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I was happy at the end of last year, and I felt good. I wanted to do it again.”
Jarana was joined Wednesday evening by more than 200 of his closest mountain biking friends, who assembled at Marabou Ranch to kick off the summer mountain bike series season.
In the end, there were a whole lot of smiles and a whole lot of people saying they were just happy to be out pedaling again.
“It was great,” series coordinator Gretchen Sehler said. “I’ve got some pretty darn awesome volunteers helping out, and they made sure everything went great. The riders just love this race every year.”
In some ways, it appeared little had changed during the winter. Barkley Robinson, last year’s season-long champion, won the men’s race on Wednesday, and Kelly Boniface, last year’s women’s champ, won her division again.
Robinson finished his 12-mile loop around the Marabou property in 50 minutes, 57 seconds. He was in ahead of Peter Kalmes, at 51:35, and Brad Bingham, who was third at 52:17.
Boniface finished first in 59:48. Sonya Bugbee was second in 1:04:26, and Katie Lindquist was third in 1:06:00.
“I had a good race. I felt strong,” said Boniface. “It’s a doable course. It’s smooth. It’s flowing. It’s really fun and fast. It was great. It’s great of them to open the doors for us.”
She wasn’t the only one to tip a cap to the course. Racing the Marabou trails is a unique treat for local riders. The private trail system is only made available to the public for a few weeks in the spring, and that window closed with Wednesday’s race.
Although most of the Town Challenge series throws daunting climbs up Emerald Mountain or Mount Werner at competitors, Wednesday’s race was a true cross-country course. It featured gradual inclines, fun drops and miles of not-so-technical riding.
The massive field — up from last year’s first-race enrollment, Sehler said — drank up the delicious singletrack.
“It was my first time, and I loved it,” Sherri Sweers said. “It was beautiful. I wanted to tell the group I was with to stop and look around. It was a great ride.”
Town Challenge returns next week for the Thunderhead Hill Climb on Mount Werner at Steamboat Ski Area.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org