No pedaling required for Saturday’s downhill mountain bike race in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

No pedaling required for Saturday’s downhill mountain bike race in Steamboat Springs

A rider flies over a jump at Steamboat Bike Park earlier this month. Riders will tackle a course in the park on Saturday for the Quick and Chainless downhill mountain bike race.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Bike Park course for the Quick and Chainless downhill mountain bike race is, appropriately, downhill, so a strategy of simply letting the wheels roll will be sufficient to get from the top of the course during Saturday's race to the bottom.

Life without a chain will require considerably more work for those aiming to win the event, however. The fastest cyclists won't just roll along for the ride but muscle their way down the trail and, hopefully, onto the podium.

"The person with the best technical cornering skills, ability to carry speed through those corners into straightaways, the person who can maintain their fitness all the way to the bottom and who can work the terrain to generate speed, that's who will win," bike park manager Trevyn Newpher said.

The Quick and Chainless event has become a late-season fixture at Steamboat Ski Area since the bike park was opened in 2012. It's traditionally served as the last hurrah for the summer riding season — one final flash through the yellowing aspens and fading grass.

That's not the case this year, however. The summer was slow to start at the ski area as crews worked to replace most major components of the gondola, an essential part of the downhill mountain bike equation.

The opening of the lift was delayed several times before it finally opened July 24, and with it, full access to the park. To make the most of the time available, the ski area announced an extended summer season, meaning Saturday's Quick and Chainless event isn't so much the end of the road but a mark along the route.

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The park is currently open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. After this weekend it will open Saturday and Sundays through Oct. 22.

"Once we got open, things were busy. People were hungry and ready to ride their bikes," Newpher said. "We had a strong end to July and August, and in September, we've had busy weekends, too."

Registration is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Steamboat Bike Shop at the base of the ski area. The race costs $30 to enter, or $50 for those without a bike park pass.

A riders meeting is set for 11:45 a.m., and the first racer will hit the dirt at noon. Awards are scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

The course this year is slightly altered. Riders will tackle Rustlers, an intermediate flow trail, then Cowpoke, a beginner flow trail, Gunsmoke, another intermediate trail, and finally Buckin' Bronc to the finish line near the base of the gondola.

The reroute was to ensure that there were no uphill sections, that the route could truly be run top to bottom without pedaling. For the top racers, however, the lack of pedaling only means eliminating some of the work.

It'll still take plenty of muscling down the backside of rollers and around corners to win this race.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.

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