Bikers brave for Buff Pass

Most riders will gain 3,600 vertical feet

Gretchen Sehler hopes Tuesday's showers hold good news for today's climbers.

The Steamboat Springs Town Challenge mountain bike series continues tonight with the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb. In recent years, snow, rain or hail has fallen on mountain bikers making the 11-mile climb from the start line near Euzoa Bible Church to the top parking lot.

"I think this cold front is going to move out," Sehler said Tuesday morning. "Usually, we don't have days of full-on rain like this. That's what I'm hoping. ... Back in the old days, we used to have nice weather. It was amazing."

In recent years, overcoming the weather has become an added challenge in an already tough race. The field for the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb isn't as full as in other races, but anyone seeking a challenge needs to look no further than Routt County Road 38, or the road to Buffalo Pass, known for its 3,600-feet elevation gain and its amazing views of the Yampa Valley.

The race begins at 5 p.m. with the youth races, and adult races begin at 5:30 p.m. Both are earlier starts than usual. Consequently, registration ends at 5:15 p.m. sharp, Sehler said.

"Everybody climbs," she said. "We start at 6,900 feet and go up to 10,500. Last year, we went to the second gate because of weather. You get up above that, it's four miles from there to the top. You are out of protection from the trees. If the wind picks up, we don't have the ability to treat people for hypothermia."

Obviously, then, people are asked to prepare for the elements. Because of the elevation gain, temperatures will be chilly at the top, regardless of the weather at the start. Anyone planning to ride down should bring warm clothes.

"We have a covered vehicle to take clothes up in," Sehler said. "Definitely bring a backpack."

The youngest youth divisions start at the bottom of C.R. 38. They will climb less than a mile to their finish. The 11- to 12-year olds will start at the parking lot 1.5 miles from the bottom and climb to the Dry Lake Campground.

The 13- to 15-year-olds and Miller Light divisions will start from the bottom and climb to the Dry Lake Campground. All novice and 16- to 18-year olds will start at Dry Lake Campground and climb to the top, a climb of 8 miles.

The pro/open, expert and sport riders will climb from the bottom of Buffalo Pass to the top, an 11-mile course.

People driving the course are encouraged to leave before the race starts to keep the road as traffic-free as possible. Bikers riding down are reminded that it will be getting dark and to bring lights.

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