Sunday downhill cycling race thrills by its mere existence |

Sunday downhill cycling race thrills by its mere existence

Adam Smith flies over a jump as the crowd cheers at the Quick and Chainless Downhill Mountain Bike Race at Steamboat Ski Area. The event drew a large crowd of riders eager to compete on the ski area’s downhill trails.

Adam Smith flies over a jump as the crowd cheers at the Quick and Chainless Downhill Mountain Bike Race at Steamboat Ski Area. The event drew a large crowd of riders eager to compete on the ski area's downhill trails.
Joel Reichenberger

— Sure, it was a race, and as a result there were winners. Jesse Hunt was the first one down in Sunday's Quick and Chainless Downhill Mountain Bike Race at Steamboat Ski Area. He finished the course in 13 minutes, 12 seconds.

Alana Ratzell, meanwhile, was first in the women's division, hitting the base area in 14:40.

But for the nearly 80 downhill mountain bike enthusiasts who showed up, Sunday's event was more a celebration than a race. After years of false starts, of settling for unsanctioned forest trails and of traveling to out-of-town resorts with already established trails, Steamboat for the first time this summer had real downhill-only trails of its own. And on Sunday, riders were in the mood to celebrate.

"This is awesome. This is huge," Ratzell said, looking over the crowd. "This was great, and in five more years, it's going to be even more incredible."

As a member of the Steamboat Ski Area's crew that built the trails, there are few who feel more ownership of the trails than Ratzell. Still, everyone seemed to take pride in them Sunday.

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Hunt, a Steamboater who finished ahead of second-place Adam Smith, in at 13:26, and third-place Dj Nudy, in 13:34, said he spends his summer weekends traveling the region to Mountain States Cup downhill events.

On Sunday, he gushed about his hometown riding and even looked ahead to new trails that are expected to come online next summer.

"This is the longest trail I've done on any of the mountains I've been to," he said. "It's really fun and it's really a good, long descent.

"I can't wait until the black trail is done next year."

The event found fans of varied ability and ages. The no-chain aspect was a curveball that made mountain regulars re-evaluate their descent, forcing riders to trust in the course's design and flow.

Veterans like Hunt grinned their way to the bottom, as did newbies like Ryli Adrian, a 9-year old who was by far the day's youngest competitor.

She was an occasional rider of the trails this summer and decided to throw her lot in with the other racers after a good day riding Saturday. Alarmed when they showed up Sunday morning and realized the route included the expert-level wooden features and jumps built into Bucking Bronc, Derrick Adrian made his daughter pre-ride them.

"She flew right through them without a problem," he said, admitting that pre-race run only served to control his nerves, not silence them.

His worries were doused in a big way when Ryli made it down unscathed and more than a little excited.

"She was just beaming at the finish," he said.

And that's what the race was about, though. Afterward, riders shouted in mock outrage when they saw they'd narrowly missed the podium. They relived tight corners and thrilling sections as they swapped stories with friends. Mostly, though, they just enjoyed the last day of the season on what so many of them considered their very own downhill mountain bike trail.

"I loved the level of excitement everyone had for it," said Liana Gregory, who was second in the women's standings. She finished in 14:44. Madeleine Mulliken was third at 14:59.

Gregory has been a fixture at Steamboat's few-and-far between downhill-orientated events. In fact, she won a race in Steamboat a year ago that attracted 28 riders. Sunday's significance was not lost on her.

"Downhillers came out of the woodwork, and that was cool," she said. "Hopefully the resort, seeing that happen, will continue its momentum.

"I love this trail and I love having it in my backyard."



1 Jerett Cherry 14.10

2 Dane Freckleton 15.77

3 Ryli Adrian 25.05


1 Jesse Hunt 13.12

2 Adam Smith 13.26

3 Dj Nudy 13.30

4 Anthony Niglio 13.34

5 Geoff Hollister 13.34

6 Hazen Kreis 13.35

7 Aryeh Copa 13.41

8 Tony Achilli 13.42

9 Brandon Arce 13.43

10 Marko Ross-Bryant 13.55

11 Ryan Bailey 13.60

12 James Koch 13.64

13 Andrew Bernitt 13.66

14 Dacques Mccann 13.71

15 Taylor Patterson 13.79

16 Jon Freckleton 13.80

17 Jeff Wanserski 13.85

18 Christian Otto 13.93

19 Greg Jansen 13.99

20 Travis Garner 14.01

21 Andrew Burns 14.08

22 Todd Dills 14.11

23 Grey Schuhmacher 14.13

24 Justin Jennerjahn 14.13

25 Andy Baker 14.15

26 Clay Schrader 14.19

27 Michael Falzion 14.21

28 Kyle Knaeble 14.22

29 Martin Beckett 14.26

30 Garrett Smith 14.27

31 Scott Howland 14.27

32 Jeremy Kuntz 14.38

33 John Schroer 14.38

34 Ross Kirby 14.41

35 David Anjos 14.65

36 Steve Teachout 14.86

37 Scott Alder 14.90

38 Scott Anfang 14.91

39 Chris Reed 14.97

40 Colin Dunlap 15.05

41 Mitch Clark 15.16

42 Richard Lovey 15.19

43 Dustin Sockness 15.22

44 Scott Tomaro 15.26

45 Eric Schankerman 15.30

46 Tom Aex 15.35

47 Luke Berlet 15.63

48 Eric Wiener 15.67

49 David Wilkinson 16.76

50 Steven Burns 17.16


1 Alana Ratzell 14.40

2 Liana Gregory 14.44

3 Madeleine Mulliken 14.59

4 Sarah Dills 15.18

5 Sarah Kinney 15.33

6 Kristi Bernitt 15.36

7 Raquel Marin 17.11

8 Celia Ferguson 17.25

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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