Celebrating cycling

Riders gearing up for weekend bike festival

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— Steamboat Springs cyclist Ethan Johnson was looking Wednesday to trade his off-road tires for some that would provide a smoother ride.

The local biker, who has been tearing up his age division off road in the local Town Challenge Series, is setting his sights on the pavement and a road bike criterium this Sunday after returning from a state-level mountain bike race in Crested Butte.

"I'm going to be in town on Sunday, but that's not the problem," Johnson said. "I don't own a road bike, so I still need to find one."

Johnson decided the road bikes looked like fun when he saw the races in Steamboat three years ago at the first-ever Steamboat Bike Festival. This weekend he is hoping to borrow a bike from a friend and take part in the Steamboat races.

"It just looks like a blast," Johnson said.

Bike festival organizer Kathleen Crislip said the road criterium is just one of many activities that are part of the annual celebration of cycling in Steamboat Springs.

Other highlights of the bike festival will include BMX races at Howelsen Hill, a BMX Pro Stunt Show and a Fat Boy (mountain bike) Criterium on Saturday and Sunday.

There will also be group road and group tandem bike rides and a special women's clinic. A group mountain bike ride is also planned as part of the weekend. Crislip said it local riders can sign up at a registration party at 5 p.m. Friday, but they can also sign up at the events just prior to the start of competition. The best part of the weekend, Crislip added, is that all the events are free to participants.

"Attendance doubled in the second year and it looks like it will increase again this year," Crislip said.

"I just want a chance to race down Lincoln Avenue when the street is closed," local cyclist Mark Bennett said of the road criterium on Sunday.

Lincoln Avenue will be closed to traffic from 7:45 until 11 a.m. Sunday to accommodate the races.

"It's always popular," Bennett said of the races. "We don't get a chance to do that type of racing around here, so it's nice to get the chance."

Other must-see events will include the Toyota Air Show, which will be presented four times over the weekend.

Crislip said the show is one of the top exhibitions in the country and packed the streets at the last few Steamboat Bike Festivals.

"It's hard to say because it's free, but we had about 300 people a show last year," She said.

In addition to the great cycling, there will also be plenty of prize giveaways including a Dyno-Cruiser bike during the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

"This was never planned to be a huge event," Crislip said. "But it's been nice to have this gradual growth every year."

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