Steamboat Springs The season has come and gone for most local mountain bike racers, but a few Steamboat Springs cyclists took advantage last weekend of one last chance to shine, riding well at the USA Cycling 24-hour Mountain Bike National Championships in Colorado Springs.
A trio of Steamboat riders — Brad Bingham, Peter Kalmes and Trevor Walz — made the backbone of the men’s second-place, four-person squad. Steamboat resident Kelly Boniface rode on the championship women’s four-person team.
“It was a good, hard event and a nice finale to the bike season,” Bingham said. “I think I’m done now.”
The Steamboat crew was joined by Colorado Springs-based Honey Stinger rider Patrick Valentine. They fell behind early against a Front Range-centered squad, falling as far back as 45 minutes as a hot day turned into night. They caught up, however, and had closed the gap to nearly 15 minutes by the time the race ended.
“We used a slightly different strategy in how we used our team, so we started clawing back a little bit in the morning hours,” Bingham said. “We didn’t get close enough, though.
“It was tough. I think I got about two hours of sleep in that 24-hour period, and we all ended up riding six laps. It was like six Town Challenge races back to back. It was ride a Town Challenge, take an hour break, ride another one.”
The course didn’t allow for much relaxing. It was rocky with steep climbs demanding constant technical riding.
“They were super fun trails to ride, but it was really technical with a lot of rocks and roots and punchy climbs and descents,” Boniface said.
She had considered her racing season over but got a call early last week and was asked to join a group of fellow pros from the region, women she spent her entire summer competing against: Sonya Looney, of Boulder; Rebecca Rusch, of Ketchum, Idaho; and Jennifer Smith, of Gunnison. The group had little trouble winning the national championship.
“It was great to actually be on the same team and racing together,” Boniface said. “We had a blast. It was as fun as staying up all night can be.”
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com