The way Katie Lindquist sees things, winter begins in six months, so she better get on her bicycle now.
"Opening Day 2007 is just around the corner," she joked.
Although most communities track seasons by calendar dates, Steamboat Springs -- and much of the Yampa Valley -- tracks its seasons by a change in recreational equipment.
Bicycles have started replacing skis atop vehicles. The sooner the better, as far as local cycling enthusiasts are concerned.
"Basically, the past two weeks it's been psycho in here," said Brock Webster, owner of Orange Peel Bicycle Shop in Steamboat. "Any time the sun is out."
Cyclists already have started logging miles on their road bikes, but there are many things to keep in mind while transitioning from winter to summer sports.
"In this town, everyone stays pretty fit," Webster said. "Skiing and riding muscles are similar but not the same. I tell people not to overdo it on the first ride. Keep your knees warm. An easy way to get tendonitis is to push yourself."
Getting the arms, legs and butt ready to ride takes some time.
"I sit on a spin bike three days a week, but it's not my bike saddle," Lindquist said.
Cyclists are encouraged to get out and enjoy the warm days ahead but are reminded to stay off mountain bike trails, which are weeks from being dry enough to ride on.
For the most part, the paved roads in Routt County are clear.
Scoria on the roads makes conditions less than ideal, but the rock particles will disappear within the next couple weeks.
In the meantime, prepare accordingly.
"Definitely carry a spare tube and patch kit, and know how to use them," Lindquist said. "Wear helmets and eye protection for the sun and for things that might come up and hit you on the road."
Cyclists have the right of way, but that isn't an excuse to ride irresponsibly.
"Wear bright clothes and ride defensively," Lindquist advised. "You need to ride predictably. Another big thing is letting people know where you are going."
It also is important to make sure your bicycle is ready to ride. Lubing the chain and putting air in tires is simple, but Webster has other maintenance recommendations for cyclists.
Wipe down the bike, but do not hose it down. Cleaning the bicycle makes it easier to spot problems. Inspect things such as the suspension, brake pads, cables and bolts.
People who are uncomfortable making repairs can take their bikes in for a tune to any of the bicycle shops in town.
For more information about cycling in Routt County, including upcoming races, visit www.routtcountyriders.org.