Downhill race returns to Steamboat Springs

Season’s last cycling race set for Sunday

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— As the vision of a downhill mountain bike park at Steamboat Ski Area comes into focus, local enthusiast Cory Prager said he’s hoping the facility can host an entire circuit of downhill races for locals — a Town Challenge for the body-armored, if you will.

That series is at least a winter away, but Prager’s hoping Sunday’s second annual Routt County Riders downhill race can give cyclists a taste of what he has in mind.

Racers took to the ski area’s Creekside trail last year, and this fall they’ll hit up some of the new trails built by Gravity Logic.

“This is a fantastic option,” Prager said. “People will have a lot of fun.”

The event starts with a riders’ meeting at 8 a.m. Sunday at the base of the gondola. Racing starts at 9 a.m. and will include two runs on the trails, which run from the base of the Thunderhead Express Chairlift to the base of the gondola.

The course will include several large, wooden features, a long section of jumps and plenty of the fast, swooping terrain that defines the sport.

A new twist for local racers will come with the second run, which must be completed without a chain.

“You have to brake wisely,” Prager said, offering up some advice for the chainless challenge. “If you brake too much, you’ll lose your momentum. The whole trick is using your momentum to plug you down the trail.”

Last year’s event drew about 40 riders, and this year’s race could do the same. Though the course offers plenty of chances for tricks, prizes will be awarded strictly based on time.

Registration will be available at the Steamboat Springs Community Center from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The event is free to attend and costs $30 for riders, with the proceeds benefiting Routt County Riders and that group’s freeride element.

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