Steamboat Springs The Teva Mountain Games, which wrap up today in Vail, attract some of the best competitors in the world.
That’s part of the thrill, Steamboat cyclist Nate Bird said.
That he and a heap of other Steamboat Springs locals fared well against that competition is even better.
Kelly Boniface was 10th in the women’s pro division of Teva’s X-Country Mountain Bike Race. Bird was 27th on the men’s side, and Craig Rench and his wife, Kate Rench, tore it up in the expert division.
Craig Rench finished second in that class, and Kate Rench was third.
“Craig was blowing past me like I was stopped,” Bird said after the race.
As in Steamboat, Vail’s mountain biking trails are mostly still muddy thanks to a slow spring. That meant Saturday’s course was low and included a lot of forest service roads.
That didn’t mean it was easy.
“We did four short, low laps, but there was a lot of climbing,” Boniface said. “You were going up straight up a fire road, down singletrack, straight up a fire road and down more singletrack. It was pretty much hill sprints.”
The purse at the event is big enough to draw World Cup-quality mountain bikers, and that left locals cranking as hard as they could to keep up.
Boniface and Bird said they worked their way up throughout the races.
“I started back and was consistently moving myself up,” Bird said.
He had a chain slip on several occasions, which cost him spots.
Still, that did little to ruin the event. Bird finished his four laps in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 9 seconds. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, a former Olympian with five USA Cycling National cross-country championships to his name, won the race, finishing in 1:26:22.
Boniface was in at 1:54:48. Georgia Gould, another former Olympian who has shined on cycling’s largest stages, won at 1:38:14.
Craig Rench finished his three laps in 1:15:07, behind Kenny Wehn, of Durango, who was in at 1:11:42. Rench beat Zane Godby to the finish line, taking second by 19 seconds.
Kate Rench was third in three laps in 1:36:00 behind champ Tammy Sadle, at 1:32:02, and Anne Gonzales, at 1:35:41.