Chairlift auction benefits cyclists in Steamboat

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To bid on a Christie II lift chair, visit www.routtcountyriders.org.

— Grant Fenton, a member of the Steamboat Springs “Bike Town USA” initiative, hopes that retired Christie II lift chairs that supported skiers for more than 30 years will help support another sport in town this fall.

Routt County Riders is auctioning off nine of the historic chairs until Monday and will use the proceeds to support a new initiative that aims to provide more biking opportunities in Steamboat.

Fenton and Routt County Riders hope the chairlift fundraiser goes a long way toward providing the $25,000 the group needs to host a biking summit in September or October. The summit would give community members and local groups interested in making Steamboat more accessible to bikers a chance to begin planning new bike paths.

“We’re hoping to raise enough money to put together a master plan for new biking projects in the community,” Fenton said. “I hope the fundraiser puts a significant dent in that total.”

Fenton said the master plan would outline the specific objectives for the initiative and would include proposals for new bike paths that will make it easier for children to bike to school and commuters to bike to work.

“We think that if the community wants to, we can create a real biking destination here in Steamboat,” he said. “We can have some of the best road riding in the nation here.”

Fenton said the initiative has raised at least $10,000 toward the $25,000 goal.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. donated the chairs, which start at a bid of $600, for the auction. Jim Schneider, vice president of skier services for the ski area and a member of the Bike Town USA initiative, is helping to propose new mountain biking trails for Steamboat. He also said he hopes the initiative draws the necessary funding to host a summit.

“The bike summit would be a great place for everyone to get together and talk about where we can go as a community,” he said.

Robin Craigen, president of Routt County Riders, said the auction is the first step in turning written plans for new bike trails into actionable plans.

“We’re trying to get these biking proposals what we call shovel ready,” he said. “No more talking. Let’s fund it and put it into action.”

Craigen praised recent biking events in Steamboat, such as the Bike to Work Week in June, but said there are many ways to continue to attract bikers.

“We can improve the signage, the right-of-way acquisition and the connectivity between trails,” he said. “We’re very excited about the potential.”

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