The Bikes Belong motto, “When people ride bikes, great things happen,” lingers on a projection screen as the organization’s executive director, Tim Blumenthal, speaks Thursday night. Blumenthal helped kick off the three-day Steamboat Bike Summit, which continues today at the Steamboat Grand starting at 9 a.m.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

The Bikes Belong motto, “When people ride bikes, great things happen,” lingers on a projection screen as the organization’s executive director, Tim Blumenthal, speaks Thursday night. Blumenthal helped kick off the three-day Steamboat Bike Summit, which continues today at the Steamboat Grand starting at 9 a.m.

Steamboat Bike Summit kicks off with speakers

Kent Eriksen gets lifetime achievement award from Routt County Riders

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Steamboat Bike Summit schedule

■ Friday at The Steamboat Grand

8 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bicycle Summit Expo, featuring dozens of cycling-related businesses, organizations, products, events, projects and ideas

8:30 a.m. Grant Fenton, with the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative, and Blumenthal, with a welcome and an event overview

9 a.m. Ryan Schutz, Rocky Mountain regional director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, speaking about his organization’s efforts to promote cycling opportunities that are environmentally and socially responsible

9:30 a.m. Tim Young, executive director of Friends of Pathways in Jackson, Wyo., speaking about the city’s pathways system

10 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. Dan Grunig, executive director for Bicycle Colorado, speaking about the organization’s dedication to a bike-friendly state

11 a.m. Chris Hagelin, senior transportation planner with GO Boulder and the city of Boulder

11:30 a.m. Sarah Uhl, of New Belgium Brewery, a platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business

Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch, free for those who rode bikes or the bus to the summit and $10 for those who didn’t

1 p.m. Grant Lamont, of Whistler City, British Columbia, councilor and bike race promoter

1:45 p.m. Tom Prochazka, of bike trail design firm Gravity Logic Inc.

2:30 p.m. Jim Schneider, of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., speaking about the trail master plan at the ski area

3 p.m. Closing, including video presentation

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Reception, with drawing for cruiser bike for registered attendees present

■ Saturday

Activities all day, including guided local trail rides and tours of Eriksen and Moots factories.

Specific events include:

9 to 11 a.m. Family-friendly events such as bike rodeo games, bike inspections and helmet fit checks and bike safety instructions at the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs.

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. IMBA Trail Building Workshop at Rex’s American Grill & Bar, from 9 a.m. to noon, and work on the Rotary Trail from 1 to 5 p.m.

— What amounted to a Steam­boat Springs cycling pep rally kicked off the inaugural Steam­boat Bike Summit on Thursday evening at The Steam­boat Grand.

Event organizers, speaking in front of the town’s assembled cycling community — about 120 members of it, anyway — stressed that one of the three-day event’s key questions was “why not here?”

Other speakers, meanwhile, insisted that Steamboat Springs was blessed enough in resources, enthusiasm and dedication to make its wildest cycling dreams — making the label Bike Town USA fit as well as Ski Town USA does — a reality.

“You are going to succeed at this,” speaker Tim Blumenthal announced. “There’s no question in my mind.”

Blumenthal, president of the Bikes Belong Coalition, a national advocate for pedal power, said his eyes were wide as he saw Steamboat’s ambition and commitment.

Blumenthal frequently referenced cycling as a growing trend in the United States, awareness and advocacy movements filling its sails not just at the local level as in Steamboat, but on higher planes as government leaders have come to support the efforts.

He said the federal government is kicking in at least $1.3 billion to cycling initiatives.

“I’m so encouraged,” Blum­enthal said. “More Americans are recognizing that bicycling matters, that it’s not just something that’s fun to do, but that it can help. Our motto is ‘When you ride bikes, great things can happen.’

“That’s catching on all across the United States.”

In the ballroom of the Grand, with nearly 20 large tables full of many of the city’s most active riders, he said he saw the start of something great.

“Usually, I speak in front of the New England Bike Summit or the Oregon Bike Summit or the National Bike Summit, not summits for cities of 10,000 people,” Blumenthal said. “It’s clear there’s the ambition here to do great things. I feel that.”

Today, the summit launches into a more detailed analysis of what exactly the dream is. Speakers from across the country and Canada will talk about cycling developments in their own cities, and organizers hope locals will be able to take tips, tricks and most important, inspiration from the experiences shared.

Today’s summit starts with registration at 8 a.m., the first speakers starting at 9 a.m. Presentations at the free event, also at the Grand, will run until about 4 p.m.

Before launching full speed into the biking Steamboat of tomorrow, however, the summit paused to salute the past and the present in acclaimed local mountain bike pioneer Kent Eriksen.

Eriksen started two elite mountain bike companies that call Steamboat home and still builds bikes for his own operation, Kent Eriksen Cycles.

On Thursday, on the brink of what many hope is a new era for Steamboat Springs, Eriksen was given a lifetime achievement award by Routt County Riders.

“I guess I’m a legend. I am in AARP,” Eriksen said with a laugh. “Mostly, it means I’m old.”

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