Tour de Steamboat cycling event continues as labor of love | SteamboatToday.com

Tour de Steamboat cycling event continues as labor of love

— Four local nonprofit organizations will reap the benefits from a record turnout during the 10th anniversary of the Kent Eriksen Cycles Tour de Steamboat road cycling event Saturday.

With more than 700 riders participating in the event this year, Tour de Steamboat co-founder Katie Lindquist expected the beneficiaries would receive $10,000 each.

"We'll probably exceed that," Lindquist said.

Those groups are Routt County Riders, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, Partners in Routt County and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

The cyclists rolled out at 7 a.m from 12th and Yampa streets and rode 26-, 40- and 110-mile courses.

"It's phenomenal," Matt Lieven said after returning from the long ride, also referred to as the Gore Gruel because it traverses three mountain passes, including Gore Pass. "The weather was beautiful. The climbs were awesome."

This was Lieven's first time riding in the event. He and his wife moved to Steamboat in the fall after their house burned down in the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer. They lost everything, including seven bikes.

People from 32 states participated in this event, which was staffed by about 75 volunteers who ran everything from the five aid stations to the food line at the post-ride barbecue at Little Toots Park.

Lindquist said the seasoned volunteers are what make the event possible.

She also credited the increase of 200 cyclists over last year to word-of-mouth.

"It's kind of been a best-kept secret for a while," Lindquist said.

Lindquist revived the Tour de Steamboat 10 years ago with Brad Cusenbary. Before that, her husband, Kent Eriksen, ran the event as a race.

Cusenbary and Lindquist had been the organizers of the 24-hour mountain biking race in Steamboat, and they started the Tour de Steamboat as a for-profit endeavor. During the first couple of years, between 150 and 200 locals participated in the relatively small-scale event.

Lindquist said that when Cusenbary was diagnosed with cancer, they decided to make it into a charity event with all the proceeds going to The Sunshine Kids, an organization that gives vacations to kids with cancer.

"Brad had cancer, we were passionate about what we were doing and it just felt good," Lindquist said.

Lindquist said that she and Cusenbary this past year tried to sell the Tour de Steamboat event, but they did not get a good offer.

Instead, Lindquist took over the event and made it into a fundraiser for local causes.

"It got us more riders," Lindquist said. "It got us more sponsors."

For Lindquist, board members and event volunteers, it continues to be a labor of love.

"I still love it, and I see it as the same intimate experience” as it was in the beginning, Lindquist said.

The four nonprofits have been identified as the beneficiaries for this year and the next two years.

This was the first year that Eriksen sat out the ride. His knee had swollen up for an unknown reason.

Instead, he watched as the riders and some of his handmade titanium bikes crossed the finish line.

"I'm out there trying to cheer on everyone and congratulating them," Eriksen said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com