Endurance race provides stage for local mountain bike racers

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— The rolling hills of the Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming provided the stage for several top finishes from Steamboat Springs mountain bike racers during the 10th annual Laramie Enduro Saturday.

The race was won by Wyoming cyclist Ben Aufderheide who led the charge in the men’s open class in the 70-plus mile race with a time of 4 hours, 39 minutes and 48 seconds. He beat a pair of Steamboat Springs riders to the finish line, including second-place finisher Barkley Robinson (4:48.55) and Alex Pond (4:53.44), who placed third overall and first in his age division.

“It’s my best showing so far,” Pond said Monday. “This is my third year, and my time was 10 minutes faster than last year.”

Pond credited the improvement to his preparation headed into the season.

"I’ve spent a lot more time training this year and a lot more hours on the bike," Pond said.

The finish in last week’s race is the most recent in a series of solid finishes for the local rider dating back to his first races of the season in April.

He also gave some of the credit for his top finish to his trainer Jon Freckleton and his fellow competitor Robinson, who has competed in this race many times.

Pond said he went out hard to separate from the pack and then he did his best to hang with Robinson for the first 35 to 40 miles of the race.

“It was important to go out hard for the first five miles of this race and get out in front,” Pond said.

Robinson's top finish led a pack of Steamboat riders into the top 20 of the men’s open division. Other riders in the top 20 included Pond in third, Craig Rench in 12th and Nate Bird in 20th.

Steamboat also fared well in the other divisions with top local cyclist Katie Lindquist (6:12.00) placing fourth in the women’s open division, which was won by Christy Olsen, of Casper, Wyo. She finished the race in a time of 5:39.44.

Steamboat had a total of 17 riders in five divisions in the race.

Patrick West (25th), David High (32nd), Matt Heydon (33rd) and Chris Arnis (46th) raced in the men’s open division with Rob Peterson placing 30th in the men’s single speed division. Patti Lindquist was 12th and Jessica Lobeck was 23rd in the women’s sport class, and Jeff Snook placed 16th, Matthew Lieven placed 25th, Mel Steward placed 28th, Diego Girard was 36th and Kevin Hendrickson was 47th in the men’s sport class.

This was the 10th year for the endurance mountain bike race. Bird said the event is popular among local mountain bikers because of the race's proximity to Steamboat, and the fact that the event is well run.

Bird said more than 500 cyclists take part in the 111-kilometer endurance race, which is held on the rolling hills of Wyoming. The race has an elevation gain of 8,000 feet, but Pond said it seems to come in small chunks of 400- and 500-foot climbs.

“A lot of Steamboat Springs riders have been going to this event for years,” Bird said. “It was one of the first 'endurance' races of its kind in this area, and it’s built a solid reputation — especially among local cyclists.”

Many of the local cyclists, including Pond, will now begin preparing for the Steamboat Stinger, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 17 and 18.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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