At Home: Steamboat Springs is becoming a cycling mecca
July 1, 2011
■ July 16: Seventh annual Eriksen Cycles Tour de Steamboat. Noncompetitive road cycling event and fundraiser, featuring a 110-mile Gore Gruel, 40-mile Stagecoach ride and 25-mile Sydney Peak ride. More info at http://www.tourdesteamboat.com.
■ July 24: Inaugural Steamboat Stinger. Fifty-mile singletrack race includes duo and solo categories. More info at http://www.honeystinger.com.
■ Aug. 7: Second annual Ride 4 Yellow. Benefitting global and local cancer initiatives and featuring a 25-mile mountain bike ride along the Continental Divide Trail. More info at http://www.ride4yellow.com.
■ Aug. 26 and 27: Inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Steamboat stop on a seven-day, 600-mile stage race, drawing 128 of the world’s best racers. More info at http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com.
■ Sept. 2 to 5: Third annual Steamboat Springs Stage Race. Four-day event including time trial, circuit race, road race and criterium. More info at http://www.bikesteamboat.com.
Steamboat Springs — Marketing pundits can tout the ski area's slopes all they want. But Ski Town USA might soon have to make room for a new moniker revolving around bicycling.
With more than 575 miles of trails and swaths of smooth, hilly roads, Steamboat is fast evolving into a world-class arena for bicycling. With even more new trails and events in store, this summer is shaping up to put it on the map for good. "I can't remember there ever being this much energy around cycling," says Harry Martin, owner of Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare. "It seems like everything is aligning for it to really take off."
Consider the facts: Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is investing in downhill mountain bike trails on Mount Werner, the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs and Routt County Riders are continuing to add trails on the backside of Emerald Mountain and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge comes to town Aug. 26 and 27, bringing with it 128 of the world's best riders. Add to that an assortment of Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series events, Tour de Steamboat, Ride 4 Yellow and stage races and the result is a cycling calendar as packed as gear cogs after a muddy ride.
And it might only get better. The city is applying for an $11 million grant through the Regional Tourism Act that would earmark a slice of Colorado sales tax revenue for even more local cycling initiatives.
There's a lot at stake with this emphasis on spokes. A survey from Whistler, British Columbia, estimates that cyclists spend $140 per day on vacation. And Steamboat is well-poised to capitalize on that.
"There's a lot of momentum right now around cycling in Steamboat," says Michael Loomis, president of Routt County Riders, which this year published the first Steamboat Springs Bike Guide. "As well there should be — it's a great place for it."
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge isn't the only new bicycling event in town. Local energy food company Honey Stinger announced it will host the first Steamboat Stinger on July 24, a 50-mile "singletrack-a-palooza" designed to rival such events as the Firecracker 50, Gunnison Growler and Laramie Enduro. The event will include three duo and seven solo categories, with competitors racing two 25-mile loops that are "90 percent singletrack."
"For years, we've been talking about a backcountry race that showcases our world-class riding and community," says Honey Stinger's Nate Bird, a favorite in the race. "This should do that, with a race vibe that's distinctly Steamboat."