Steamboat Ski Area to celebrate end of bike park’s 1st season
September 27, 2012
Steamboat Springs — From rider to executive, there is a consensus: So far, so good.
A network of downhill mountain bike trails built by Steamboat Ski Area opened earlier this summer, and now, after one solid season of riding, there appears to be agreement that while there's still plenty of work to be done, the first full year of operations went pretty smoothly.
"We were quite pleased with the results," said Jim Schneider, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.’s vice president of skier services. Schneider has led Ski Corp.’s downhill cycling efforts.
To celebrate that first season, which ends Sunday, the ski area is playing host to a weekend of music, downhill biking and a new race. It's not quite a wheeled Cardboard Classic, but the SummerEndo will feature bands Friday, Saturday and Sunday to go along with the final weekend of lift-accessed downhill mountain biking. It all will conclude with the Quick & Chainless bike race Sunday.
"It was an event that was actually sparked by the trail crew," Schneider said. "We thought it sounded like a great idea, and hopefully, it can become a tradition."
The Quick & Chainless race begins at 1 p.m. Sunday on Rustler Ridge. The race is for intermediate and advanced riders, who will compete without bike chains on the 5.3-mile downhill course. Registration is limited to the first 200 riders. Entry costs $30, or $20 for bike park pass holders. There will be prizes for the first-, second- and third-place finishers in men's, women's and children's (15 and younger) race categories. The downhill trails will be closed to the public during the race.
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To register for the bike race, visit http://www.steamboat.com/chainless.
The free concert lineup features Jeremy Buck at 6 p.m. Friday, Wise100Doors and Friends at 6 p.m. Saturday and the Sean Patrick McGraw Band at 4 p.m. Sunday.
This marks the first time there's been a definitive enough summer season to warrant closing festivities, and for many local cyclists, that fact alone is something to celebrate.
Local enthusiasts long have encouraged the ski area to add downhill trails to its summer menu, but the process was drawn out. Unsanctioned trails popped up in the woods across Routt County, and the downhillers’ most frequent on-mountain go-to — the Creekside trail — became a flashpoint for controversy.
With one top-to-bottom trail available early this summer, the problems weren't entirely rectified, but the ski area's efforts did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
"I've been here for about 16 years, and this is the first time I've ever bought a summer season pass," said Dacques McCann, a regular downhiller who hits the trails when he's not selling and servicing bikes at Ski Haus.
"I thought, 'They were making an effort to build the trails, so I would make an effort to purchase the pass and support them,'" he said. "It's a good start."
The bike park still is a work in progress.
The intermediate Rustler's Ridge trail was new this season, combining with features built last year into lower-mountain trails such as Wrangler Gulch and Buckin’ Bronc to offer gondola-to-base banked turns, jumps and bumps.
Sections of beginner trail Tenderfoot and advanced Rawhide came late in the season, and Schneider said they'll be completed to the base area for next summer.
Along the way, the trails that were finished were tweaked and corners were smoothed out.
"We learned about the trail-building process," Schneider said. "We learned what works best for the environment and how to build a banked turn that holds riders in. We went back and rebuilt a few turns and those kind of things to make sure everything flowed correctly."
McCann said the bike park still isn't the whole answer for the downhill community. He said his friends continue to look to other mountains, such as Winter Park, to get their fix.
Still, he said, it was a great first step for Steamboat. He said the Two-Wheel Tuesday promotion, which let riders hit the trails in the evenings, was popular, producing large and fun packs of riders and an atmosphere he said rivaled that of much larger and better-established bike parks.
"I'm pretty sure I'll buy a pass again next year," he said. "It's really nice to be able to go up on the weekend and not have to drive."
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com
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