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Melinda Mawdsley

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Nonstop biking

24-hour race returns for second year

Last year, Jeff Snook ate a piece of French bread with hazelnut and cocoa milk spread after every lap.

It’s the snack he was craving after climbing and descending 11 miles on his mountain bike during each of his laps during Rio’s 24 Hours of Steamboat race.

“The 2 a.m. lap was the hardest,” Snook said.

This year, Snook is riding with Ian Gale, Dave Rudnick and Marc Bennett, otherwise known as Anabasis Racing, in what figures to be a highly competitive men’s team field.

“We have 18 teams at the moment and two more potentially signing up,” said Brad Cusenbary, one of the race directors with Rocky Peak Productions.

The 24 Hours of Steamboat is a nonstop mountain bike race that runs from noon Saturday to noon June 12 at Steamboat Ski Area.

Men and women can compete solo or with teammates. A 12-hour division also is offered, which is where the Anabasis Racing team of Marin Campbell and Jody Gale will compete.

“I can’t wait,” Snook said. “Last year was so fun.”

Many from last year’s field agreed.

“It’s been easier working with vendors and sponsors,” Cusenbary said. “Everybody wanted to come back. Really, the same can be said for participants. I haven’t gone through and looked at the numbers, but a good portion, probably in the 80-percent range, is return clientele.”

Last year’s men and women solo winners, Henry Harrocks and Jenna Woodbury, are returning, which speaks volumes about the course and the job that Cusenbary, Katie Lindquist and Gretchen Sehler did organizing Steamboat’s first 24-hour race.

This year, Lindquist said, logistics have been easier, but the trio is working hard to ensure racers enjoy themselves again.

“We had such incredibly positive feedback,” Lindquist said. “I think the racers were really happy with the event. This year, with that much more preparation behind us, it should be just as good, if not better.”

The Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat begins in Gondola Square. The teams or individuals who complete the most laps in 12 or 24 hours win. The solo riders are competing for cash purses. Winners in the other divisions will be awarded prizes.

But the course setup in Steamboat is unlike most 24-hour races because of the 2,100-foot elevation climb with each lap.

After the start in Gondola Square, the course ascends the Zig Zag ski trail. Riders take Zig Zag to Why Not Road, on which they ride until reaching the Vagabond Saddle. From the Vagabond Saddle, bikers return to Zig Zag. They will veer off Zig Zag twice, but the trail is the primary one used to ascend to the top of Thunderhead.

Once at Thunderhead, riders descend on Huffman’s, Spur Run, Valley View, Jess’s Cut Off, Sitz and Yoo Hoo.

Those soloists will descend and return to the point of ascension. Team members will pass a baton from one to the other after checking in at the base-area tent.The baton must be present to count laps — it is how the registrar tracks the race.

Spectators are welcome to attend and support the riders, but quiet hours are from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. to accommodate those staying in the Gondola Square and Ski Time Square area.

For more information about the race or to register, contact Rocky Peak Productions at