Spoke Talk: A sense of community, culture in Bike Town USA


— I’ll spend a lot of time this winter thinking about cycling. As the project coordinator for the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative, I’m paid to be the head cheerleader, but it’s not just a job to me. It’s personal.

My feelings about Bike Town USA actually have a lot to do with how I feel about living in Ski Town USA. I’ve lived in mountain resort towns most of my adult life. Just one year after I moved to Steamboat Springs in 2002, I felt more at home here — and more a part of the community — than I did after many years in other mountain towns.

I have a vivid memory of the evening of Feb. 5, 2010, when I was downtown for the Olympian Send-off. Afterwards, walking back to the car, my husband picked up our 4-year-old son, gave him an especially fervent hug and said, “Do you know how lucky we are to live here and call this town home?”

He was talking to our son, but he was looking directly at me with an intensity that magnified the sound of his words through the noise of the crowd. I knew exactly what he meant.

To me, Ski Town USA isn’t about a marketing brand or a rank on a list in a skiing magazine. It’s all about culture, community and a sense of belonging. It’s the delightful habit our town has of closing off a busy state highway and covering it with snow so we can celebrate our nearly century-old Winter Carnival. It’s seeing children learn to ski when they’ve barely mastered the basics of walking. It’s about spending as much time as possible reveling in the wonders of winter.

So, just as I love wrapping myself in the familiar layers of Ski Town USA culture, I embrace the vision of a great biking community that is at the heart of Bike Town USA. Bike Town USA isn’t a rank. Nobody claims that we already are the best biking community in the country. It’s a compelling vision, a culture, a sense of community, tradition and opportunity.

My personal vision of Bike Town USA is framed through the eyes of our young son. When he is my age, I hope that his list of fond memories of growing up in Bike Town USA might look something like this:

■ Going with Dad to the BMX track when he was 2 to ride his strider bike on the whoop-de-doos.

■ Singing in the Burley trailer while Mom towed him behind her bike heading to kindergarten.

■ Feeling safe riding to school on his own.

■ Watching and listening to adult riders who taught him the rules of the road (and the trail) and confronted him when his riding was careless or dangerous.

■ The steady waves of tourists and the vibrant energy of town.

■ His pride in being a true local.

■ The thrill of watching a peloton of pro cyclists lean into the curve on Rabbit Ears Pass.

■ The adrenaline rush of downhill biking at the ski area.

■ Warm summer evenings riding on Emerald Mountain in the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series, competing with friends and cheering on his “old” parents.

Who knows, he may grow up to have more interest in music than cycling. That’s OK. We’re grateful that he’ll have the opportunity for an active, healthy lifestyle, and a strong sense of community. The Ski Town USA and Bike Town USA culture will be woven into the fibers of his muscles and heart. Lucky boy indeed.


Richard Levy 6 years, 5 months ago

What I'll be spending alot of time thinking about this winter....

-How well my studded bike tires work -If the Core Trail will be plowed to Stockbridge before noon -How nice the new Hwy 40 underpass is to ride -When o' when will the bike bridge @ 13th Street be installed?


TWill 6 years, 5 months ago

Can you bicycle people put the two-wheeler away and let your leg hairs grow a little bit while we enjoy the SNOW please?

We're looking at a record opening in SKI Town USA. You know, SKIING- the thing that put this place on the map. Let's focus on that for now.

Biking has been adopted by SKI towns as something to do when the snow isn't flying, not a year-round way of life.

Steamboat is a great place to raise a family, but we don't need the constant bicycle-friendly message jammed down our throats every week. We get it! Riding a bike is fun and good for you, but so are a lot of other things that are not as high maintenance (by all definitions of the term).

So, get out your training stands, take your spin classes and pedal to nowhere (while its snowing outside). Give the bike talk a rest until next spring, please.

See you up on the SKI hill this winter.


Riley Polumbus 6 years, 5 months ago

Steamboatrich - Thank you for your comment, good inspiration for future columns.

TWill - I am sure there will be a lot of stories about skiing, however we do feel there is an audience for this column through the winter and we will try to keep it as compelling as possible. After all, in Ski Town, USA we talk about skiing year round, so why not talk about biking year round?

Oh, and by the way... Before skiing, back in the late 1910s and 20s it was the cattle industry that put us on the map - more cows were transported out of our little depot than anywhere else in the US. Before that, our claim to fame were the hot springs - summer tourism! I guess we are coming full circle!


mtroach 6 years, 5 months ago

Twill for some of us biking is why we live here, and the powder skiing is just a bonus.


1999 6 years, 5 months ago

lane...it sounds excatly like a marketing brand to you.

to some of us...biking is simply an enjoyable and necessary transportation mode.

you seem to be the one hell bent on " a marketing brand"


Carrie Requist 6 years, 5 months ago

For those of you bike communizing. This is a great thing, but please remember that it gets dark really early now and you are hard to see without lights and reflective gear. I passed two bicyclists on highway 40 (near Ace) the other night. Both were invisible until my car war right beside them, which was jarring for me but more made me worried that these guys were going to get hit by someone who never saw them. Please make your self seen with lights and reflective clothing.


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