Steamboat Springs They may be fine citizens, but when they arrive in Steamboat Springs in about 10 days or two weeks, they’ll be covered in dirt, and they’ll most likely reek of sweat.
Fair warning for any concerned: The Tour Divide mountain bike race riders are on their way.
The massive annual race began early Friday, kicking off from its Banff, Alberta, starting line at 8 a.m. More than 100 riders began what will be an epic 2,745-mile ride to Antelope Wells, N.M., on the United States-Mexico border, mountain biking down the spine of the continent and, in the latter half of the race, swinging through Steamboat Springs.
The event has grown a great deal since it began in 2007. There were 48 racers at the Banff starting line in 2010, 67 in 2011 and 103 this year. It’s always attracted a wide variety of competitors, and that’s true again this year with racers hailing from four continents and at least seven countries.
In that group are several Steamboat residents led by Erik Lobeck, who’s tried his luck on the long course several times. He finished second in 2010, making up for a frustrating late-race illness that stopped him in 2009. He leapt to the front early Friday, hanging close with a group of three other riders as the pack cut along the Elk River, through Alberta and into British Columbia.
He was joined in the field by Steamboat’s Dave Meissner.
The route runs through Canada, entering the United States in Montana before briefly cutting into Idaho, cutting southeast through Wyoming and entering Colorado northwest of Steamboat Springs. It continues to cut southeast to Clark, then shoots south into Steamboat and through the state.
Lobeck’s second-place time in 2010 was 18 days, 11 hours and 38 minutes.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com