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All day, all night

Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat nears

Melinda Mawdsley

— The warning is in the middle of the page and printed in bold letters. “This event is not recommended for entry-level racers.”

And there’s a reason why.

The course for The Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat mountain bike race is 11 miles long and gains 2,100 feet in elevation, starting at 6,900 feet and peaking at 9,000 feet.

“Ours is definitely pretty hard core,” event organizer Katie Lindquist said about the race.

The popularity of 24-hour endurance events is increasing. The new 24 Hours of E-Rock competition, which will take place south of Castle Rock, is June 10 and 11 –he same days as Steamboat’s race.

“I think we are a little lower than last year because there is a Mountain States Cup race and another 24-hour race by Denver,” Lindquist said about registration numbers for this year’s Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat. “We picked a weekend exclusive of other 24-hour races, but (24 Hours of E-Rock) popped up this year.”

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The E-Rock course is an easy to moderate ride on an 8-mile loop with just 500 feet of elevation gain, so it’s an event that is friendly to entry-level riders.

The Steamboat race, sponsored by the Rio Grande Mex-

ican Restaurant, is expected to continue to attract mountain bikers who want a mental and physical challenge.

“People can register until Friday,” Lindquist said. “The sooner, the better.”

The Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat begins at noon Saturday and ends at noon Sunday. During those 24 hours, solo riders or teams will compete against one another and the clock to see who can complete the most laps.

Wildlife and changing weather conditions added unpredictability to the race in its first two years.

The snow atop Mount Werner won’t affect the 11-mile loop, which climbs to the top of the gondola. Lindquist said warm, dry weather has been kind to the course.

“It’s really dry,” she said. “We were just so screwed last year. It rained and rained. Rain would not hurt it now. We would only benefit.”

The course isn’t officially open because Steamboat Ski Area doesn’t open for summer operations until Friday, the day race organizers will set the course.

“We are going to do some minor trail maintenance,” Lindquist said. “That’s why it’s still closed. They are removing beetle kill. There are big log pines on the course.”

There aren’t any major changes to this year’s race, but race organizers have gone to an electronic timing system instead of the pen and paper method used in previous years.

Racers still will carry a baton and check in after each lap, handing the baton off to a teammate.

“Electronic timing means faster and more accurate results and individual times,” Lindquist said.

Registration and camping still are available by logging on to http://www.24hoursofsteamboat.org. With less than one week remaining until the race begins, racers should call 879-0480 before mailing in their registration.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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