STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Alex Pond said he felt stiff during Wednesday’s Town Challenge. His “rough” ascent couldn’t have been too surprising, though, as five days earlier, he took second in the 50-mile Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race.
That didn’t diminish his effort on Wednesday, Aug. 14, as he earned second in the 16-mile Sunshine Loop at Mount Werner.
“It was kind of get out and ride a bit, keep the legs loose, keep them fresh,” Pond said of his transition strategy. “Then just get as rested as possible. Sleep (well) at night, eat some good food, get all the recovery stuff in.”
Pond, 35, rides for Steamboat Velo, donning the uniform along with a handful of others at the race. He said in past years he had back-to-back races somewhat frequently, but pedaling 66 competitive, hilly miles over five days this week was challenging.
“This year, I’ve toned it back a little bit and haven’t raced as much,” Pond said. “So, yeah, it was a little bit more difficult because I definitely am not as trained as other seasons.”
Competing in the Pro/Open category, Pond started the ride heading up Zig Zag. From there, riders cut across the mountain on Yoo Hoo and Valley View before heading up Spur Run to reach Christie’s Peak. The Sport category headed down the mountain, while the Pro and Expert riders continued up along the Sunshine Trail.
Both groups powered down Pioneer and Zig Zag to the line, an orange “finish” painted on the dirt.
Pond crossed the line behind fellow Steamboat Velo rider, Tanner Visnick, in both the Stinger and Town Challenge.
“Tanner, he’s just got that young, fresh drive,” Pond said. “I’m super stoked for him. He’s been crushing it.”
Upon crossing the finish line, Visnick claimed he saw bear scat and tracks on the trail. He wasn’t the only one with a wildlife story.
One rider said he had to halt on the trail for a small deer, and Caleb Haack nearly ran into a moose coming around a corner on the Lasso trail on his decent.
“It was just sitting there; didn’t move,” Haack said. “I just waited it out.”
Haack, who competed in the Youth 16 to 18 category, rode 12 miles, starting out side-by-side with his friends before breaking off on the downhill.
“We had a pretty good conversation on the way up,” Haack said.
Haack and his friends picked up that conversation again at the finish line, sharing their animal sightings and congratulating one another.
The first woman in the sport category to cross the line was Sarah Glassmeyer. Riding the same 12-mile route as Haack, the 28-year old said Wednesday’s race made her feel strong.
Glassmeyer has been riding in every installment of the Town Challenge, a first for her, as she only competed sporadically in previous years. The route took her 6 miles up and 6 miles down, giving her half the race to conquer downhills.
“I think I’m feeling stronger,” Glassmeyer said. “For me, the downhills are the scary part, so these races are awesome because you get more confident going downhill.
“Every time I do it, I feel a little bit more empowered.”