SmartWool employee Marla Bailey leaves work on her bike Thursday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

SmartWool employee Marla Bailey leaves work on her bike Thursday.

Cycling season starting to pick up speed in Steamboat

June is Bike to Work Month; Routt County Riders growing

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■ Learn more about the growing Routt County Riders organization and local cycling events at www.routtcountyriders.org.

■ For more information about the Bike to Work Commuter Challenge, including sign-up details, go to www.steamboatchamber.com/sustainable or contact Meagan Coates, of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, at 970-875-7003 or meagan@steamboatc...

— Cycling season is rolling in Steamboat, and Routt County Riders has several new developments in the middle of a month dedicated to pedaling promotion.

June is Bike to Work Month in Steamboat Springs. The month-long encouragement of commuting, running errands and getting around on two wheels, rather than four, culminates in Bike to Work Week from June 21 to 26. That week includes a June 23 breakfast on the Routt County Courthouse lawn in downtown Steamboat to celebrate bicycle commuting. New this year is the Bike to Work Commuter Challenge, a joint effort of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Sustainable Business Program, Routt County Riders and Smart­Wool.

Meagan Coates, the Cham­ber’s community development manager, said 25 teams — many representing local businesses — and 26 individuals have signed up. She said the challenge ends with a July 2 party to congratulate winners for most commuting trips and most miles in three categories: teams, individuals and “newbies,” or those commuting to work by bicycle for the first time. Coates said prizes include plaques, a massage from Rhythmic Touch Sports Massage Therapy and gifts from SmartWool and Routt County Riders.

“Mainly, it’s just bragging rights, I think,” she said.

Coates said the event primarily is meant to celebrate the environmental and health benefits of bicycle commuting.

“We’re going to figure out the total miles and total trips for everybody and try to convert that to how much carbon we saved from the air and how many gallons of gas in the month of June.”

Coates said further details about the July 2 party are in the works. She noted that the downtown paving project could be making bicycle commuting an easy sell this year.

“I know, just from riding myself, that it’s a lot more pleasant just getting on the (Yampa River) Core Trail,” she said.

Routt County Riders Pres­ident Robin Craigen reminded cyclists to schedule a little extra time for the commute, check the weather, wear a helmet and, most importantly, “enjoy the ride and appreciate where you live.”

More people appear to be experiencing that enjoyment — or at least making it official — across the region. Craigen said Routt County Riders has close to 300 members, its largest tally, with a goal of reaching 500 by the end of the year.

The group that started more than a decade ago recently got approval for 501(c)3 nonprofit status, he said, and has appointed a board of directors.

“We’re operating on a much more formal structure,” Craig­­en said last week.

The organization’s efforts could help bring new mountain biking trails to the Steamboat area this summer and in years to come.

Craigen said collaborations are continuing with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to establish Mount Werner as a destination for “freeriding,” a style of mountain biking that involves obstacles, aerials, tight turns and tricks. Craigen said work could begin on a freeride trail in July.

“We expect to be a huge part of the volunteer force that helps make that happen,” he said about Routt County Riders.

Craigen said the organization just received a $35,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to build the new Beall Trail, named after former Routt County Commissioner and longtime open space advocate Ben Beall. The trail on the south side of Emerald Mountain will connect with the Ridge Trail.

“That trail will be built this year,” Craigen said.

Also planned for Emerald Mountain is the Rotary Trail, a collaborative effort with the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs, which gave Routt County Riders a $7,500 sponsorship for trail construction, Craigen said.

“That work is slated to start happening very soon,” he said.

Routt County Riders also is working on a map of area mountain bike trails to sell to locals and visitors as a way to raise funds for trail maintenance. The maps could be distributed for sale by the end of June.

Craigen said all of the efforts are part of a cumulative attempt to promote healthier, more sustainable lifestyles in the community.

“If we make Steamboat a more bike-friendly community, we make it a better place to live,” he said.

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