Luke Graham: Downhill biking picks up in Steamboat
October 2, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Liana Gregory blazed down the Bucking Bronco course Sunday during the second annual Steamboat Springs Bike Summit downhillrace, proving she is every bit of a stud bike rider.
Gracious in how she won, crediting her recent summer in Whistler, British Columbia, Gregory said something that instantly jumped out.
She has been to the downhill mountain bike mecca of Whistler. But when she thinks of mountains and downhill mountain biking going together, one mountain sticks out.
"Steamboat is the perfect mountain," she said. "It's not too steep so you won't have erosion problems. There is a lot of flow to be had. I always thought this would be a fantastic mountain for it."
But is it?
Sunday's downhill mountain bike race brought out 28 participants for a pair of runs. The newly formed trails, designed by Gravity Logic, didn't all get rave reviews.
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The bottom sections, some said, needed more banked turns. They didn't flow enough and there were parts where you had to use your brakes too much.
But all agreed that Sunday's event and the new trails are steps in the right direction for a ski mountain looking for its summer soul.
The biggest question is what's next? More trails are being planned and hurdles are being crossed.
It still remains to be seen whether Steamboat can become the downhill mountain biking hub some think it can be.
What it will take is a collection of trails that are unmatched. Judging right now, Winter Park is a better destination.
It doesn't mean that Steamboat can't close the gap. And it should try. Whistler, per visitor and how much they spend each day, now is almost dead even in winter and summer.
Sunday's event organizer and downhill enthusiast Cory Prager gathered the 28 riders after the race and talked about growing the sport on all levels.
He talked about more trails and more support and even mentioned doing a series next summer in the same sense as the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series.
Prager seems to understand what it's going to take.
"The most important thing is getting people together," he said. "It's all about numbers. The different entities need to work together. It's a huge possibility for us to do that."
It will be big undertaking, and it won't happen overnight.
But judging from the smiles and stories of riders like Gregory on Sunday, downhill mountain biking in Steamboat is going in the right direction.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com
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