Cyclists battle weather, tired legs

Riders make seven-mile trek up Buffalo Pass Road in Town Challenge Series race

— Cold. Windy. And raining.

Wednesday evening was the perfect time to sit back and watch a favorite movie, the Olympics or reruns of sitcoms now in syndication. The point is conditions weren't ideal to climb seven miles and a couple of thousand feet on Buffalo Pass Road atop a mountain bike.

Nonetheless, more than three dozen riders with faces and legs caked in mud made it from the bottom of Buffalo Pass Road to the second gate seven miles up as part of the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series' Buffalo Pass Hill Climb.

"I love hill climbs," said overall winner Ian Prichard, who finished well ahead of the field in 45 minutes, 7 seconds.

Mark-O Ross-Bryant was second in 48:06. Barkley Robinson was third in 48:08.

The riders in the pro, expert and sport divisions were to ride 11 miles and climb nearly 3,500 feet, but inclement weather conditions prompted race director Gretchen Sehler to shorten the course, starting all adults, including novice riders, at the bottom and sending them seven miles uphill en masse.

Prichard and fellow class winners Liz Rostermundt (women's expert) and Mitch Hamilton (men's sport) said there was little thought of skipping Wednesday's race because of the weather.

If anything, the lower temperatures made it easier to climb.

But they could have done without the wind and rain.

"It was nice," said Rostermundt, who was the first woman across in 54:47. "It got cold up here (at the top), but the middle was nice. Once you got moving it was fine."

Through the previous six races, the weather has cooperated with the Town Challenge Series, but the weather could have been worse Wednesday. There have been years when it's snowed.

Hamilton likely would have been just as comfortable had he seen the first snowfall of the upcoming fall and winter seasons. He doesn't have a car and commutes exclusively on his bike -- even in the winter. He was just worried the race would be canceled.

Hamilton's time of 48:49 was good enough to finish fifth overall. He defeated all but two riders in the pro and expert division as well, opting to try to stay with the lead riders for a challenge.

"I've never been paced by anyone that's that good," Hamilton said. "Normally I'm with the experts on the way up, but I'm awful on the way down."

The Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series wraps up Sept. 10 with the Mount Werner Criterium.

That race will have an early start.

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

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