Downhill racing kicks off Saturday in Steamboat |

Downhill racing kicks off Saturday in Steamboat

— Area officials and users haven't been able to agree on whether the Creekside Trail at Steamboat Ski Area is best as a downhill-only or multidirectional trail. One thing will be for sure this Satur­day, however: traveling up the controversial singletrack would be a tremendously bad idea.

Creekside might officially be two-way, but for a few hours starting at 10:30 a.m. Sat­­ur­day, it will host Steam­boat's best bombers in a downhill mountain bike race.

"This is something that hopefully the gravity community is really going to get behind and get excited about," event organizer Cory Prager said. "It's an opportunity for people, if they think they're fast, to get out and race some downhill."

The race might highlight the summer's controversy, but Prager said the event is the perfect opportunity to show how such user conflicts can be avoided in the future.

He sought out a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service and found cooperation from Steamboat Ski Area and Routt County Riders, as well as eagerness from local freeride enthusiasts.

"We're just really excited that we're all coming together for this great event because that hasn't happened in quite a while," Prager said. "This is just another great cycling event in Steamboat.

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"We have an extremely diverse cycling community here in Steamboat, and this will show that we can all work together."

Riders can register between 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at Ski Haus, paying $15 for Routt County Riders members and $25 for nonmembers for the opportunity to fly down Creekside.

There will be plenty on the line besides the pride inherent in Steamboat's first downhill mountain bike race in years. Steam­­boat Rentals By Owner put up $400 in cash to go along with prizes offered by Steam­boat Ski Area.

As many as 75 riders will be able to participate.

Riders will gather at the base of the gondola for a meeting at 9 a.m. and then ride the gondola to the top and cruise down the multiuse trail Zig Zag to the top of the 1.7-mile Creekside trail.

Parking will not be available at the bottom of the trail, which empties out onto Burgess Creek Road.

Some parking is available just up the road at the base of Thunde­­rhead Express chairlift, however, and there is plenty at the base area of the mountain. Spectators either can ride the gondola and hike down to the top of the trail or hike up Zig Zag, which also starts at the base of the gondola, to view the action.

Prager advised spectators to show up early to pick out their spots along the trail because once the racers get going on their one-and-only chance to ride a one-way Creekside, they could be tough to stop.

"This will be a great way for us to finish off our season and to show everyone what kind of trails the ski area is working on that maybe we could be riding next summer," Prager said.

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