Steamboat Springs Steamboat's singular bicycle shop, and possibly the only bicycle shop in the Western world housed in a former sawdust and wood chip burner, has changed hands.
Chris Oppold, 34, formerly of Denver, has purchased Sore Saddle Cyclery from Ed and Kathleen Crislip.
The Crislips purchased the business in April 1998. Ed Crislip will continue working at the shop while he and his wife launch a new bicycle touring business.
Oppold is an avid cyclist who has competed in 24-hour endurance events. Before purchasing the business, he managed a sales team for a tech company in Denver with accounts in the Internet industry.
"I've been riding in Steamboat the last three years and last summer I had the epiphany that I wanted to own a business here. I had a great opportunity," Oppold said.
Oppold has completed 24-hour mountain bike events in Winter Park and Moab, Utah. The opportunity to hop on a bike outside his shop and be riding the trails on Emerald Mountain within five minutes is no small part of his attraction to Sore Saddle.
"That's a part of the goal," he said with a grin. "To be able to ride, make a living and be a part of the community."
The business acumen he acquired in his former career will serve him well, he believes.
"I know how to negotiate contracts and read profit and loss statements," he said. "I've got a good team -- an accountant and a lawyer -- and I've got Ed and Kathleen."
Sore Saddle Cyclery was founded in 1975 by Kent Eriksen, who built the first Moots bike on the second floor of the unique dome that is home to Sore Saddle. The dome is an old wood chip incinerator, converted to a bike shop after Kent purchased the incinerator from the city of Steamboat Springs for the sum of $1. Eriksen moved the dome to its current location at 12th and Yampa streets.
Today, Sore Saddle encompasses the dome, a former dairy receiving plant that once stood beside the
dome, and the old Moots factory behind the dome.
Many familiar employees at Sore Saddle are coming back for the summer season. They include Rich Takesuye, Marc Bennett, Andrew Gunn and Mitchell Buck. Ed Crislip has been in the bicycle business for 28 years and spent the last decade at Sore Saddle.
Oppold says his customers won't notice any changes in the products and services offered by the shop.
One area in which Kathleen Crislip and Oppold share an interest is in expanding the little shop's Web presence. Perhaps few of the shop's Steamboat customers realize how widely known Sore Saddle is.
Crislip said she and her husband were very diligent a few years ago about taking steps to ensure that Sore Saddle would come up near the top of the list when people typed "mountain bikes" into Internet search engines. As a consequence, she has sent special bike saddles to customers as far away as Florida and recently had a customer come to Steamboat for a ski vacation while picking up his made-in-Steamboat Moots bike. Sore Saddle is the biggest Moots dealer in the country, Crislip said.
"The Internet business is helped by the cachet of a small funky bike shop in a mountain town," Crislip said. "They look for something from our unique inventory, or something we have that's collectible."
Oppold believes he can modernize the Web site and looks forward to selling individualistic race jerseys to customers all over the country, if not the world.
"Kids in Kansas City, Mo., don't want a white jersey, they want a jersey from Steamboat Springs," Oppold said.
Oppold intends to increase Sore Saddle's race sponsorships and presence. He plans to continue to support the Steamboat Bike Festival and has plans for an annual road bike weekend, which will include the popular road criterium started by Sore Saddle in 1998.
There are plans for a summer-long riding program for young riders, and Oppold intends to become active in statewide cycling advocacy programs.
Kathleen Crislip will continue to volunteer for the Steamboat Bike Festival, which will include a NORBA race this summer.
--To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205 or