Our View: Pedal to assist cycling-related tourism

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Editorial Board, October 2009 through February 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Michelle Garner, community representative
  • Paula Cooper Black, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— We were greatly impressed during Labor Day weekend at the ability of a local man, Corey Piscopo, to spearhead a first-time, multistage bicycle-racing event that attracted more than 300 entrants to town.

And we were equally impressed recently to learn of an emerging cycling partnership among the Routt County Riders, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., the city and the U.S. Forest Service. The group is exploring development of freeride trails that have demonstrated the potential at other mountain resorts to boost tourism outside ski season.

Freeriding trails often include extreme features such as elevated wooden plank bridges, jumps, drops, rock features and even teeter-totters. They already have generated significant employment and visitation at nearby Winter Park and at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia.

The influence of Ski Corp. parent Intrawest is easy to see in the new initiative - Winter Park and Whistler Blackcomb are in the family. Intrawest spokesman Ian Galbraith credited cycling with transforming the Canadian resort into a four-season destination.

Visitors to Whistler Mountain Bike Park spent nearly $16.5 million in summer 2006.

The Routt County Riders have established themselves as one of the best-organized and most committed recreational organizations in the region. With their ability to provide volunteer labor and draw on the bicycle trail building expertise of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, they're ideally suited to tap into the successes at Whistler Blackcomb and Winter Park.

Steamboat has achieved great success with summer tourism built around special events. But we can quickly see that a well-developed mountain bike park has the potential to fill in the gaps between events with visitors who arrive throughout the late spring, summer and fall to share a passion for one of the healthiest sports we know of.

We're mindful that some environmental groups have questioned the appropriateness of mountain biking at ski resorts. They are concerned that cycling is inconsistent with the law that allows ski areas to operate on federal land.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has sponsored legislation to clarify the role of cycling and other forms of summer recreation at ski resorts. The bill was being considered in hearings Oct. 15.

Given the International Mountain Bicycling Association's successful track record of consulting with the Forest Service about the sensitive construction of single-track trails, we're confident that new trails in the Routt National Forest can be built in a way that doesn't unduly harm the environment.

With that in mind, we urge local governments and community organizations throughout the Yampa Valley to add their energies to efforts to broaden the opportunities for cycling-related tourism here.

Comments

sledneck 4 years, 5 months ago

Yep, thats what Steamboat needs... more freakin bicycles.

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ybul 4 years, 5 months ago

Gee, you know what free riding is. What they are looking at is directional trails on the mountain in order for people to ride down hill fast and safely, not running into hikers or bikers going up hill.

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