Greg Jansen rides down Creekside Trail during the Sept. 18 downhill race. Steamboat Ski Area and the U.S. Forest Service are working on new trail plans to be implemented starting this summer.

File Photo

Greg Jansen rides down Creekside Trail during the Sept. 18 downhill race. Steamboat Ski Area and the U.S. Forest Service are working on new trail plans to be implemented starting this summer.

Summer of cycling looms for Steamboat

Steamboat Springs gears up for season of big events, around-town projects

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Jack Vanderbeck cruises down a section of the course in June at a Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series event at Marabou. This summer’s race series starts June 8.

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Aspire’s Dr. Jon Freckleton and Sheryl Ballowe perform a lactate threshold test on 17-year-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cyclist Linnea Dixson at last year’s inaugural Spring Bike Fest put on by Routt County Riders. The Routt County Riders’ Bike Swap and Festival is set for May 14 and is one of the first events of this year’s cycling season in Steamboat.

— Now is not the time, not in a town where the wet, sloppy snow just won’t stop or in a valley turned into a gigantic irrigation ditch. The sites of planned summer construction still are buried deep in snow; the sites of old summer fun still are messy, rutted-out relics.

Soon, though. Soon the biking summer will be upon Steamboat Springs, and local leaders predict that for cyclists enthusiastic and apathetic, for residents involved and unplugged, this will be a biking summer the likes of which they’ve never seen.

Steamboat in the spotlight

Steamboat will spend the next four months looking forward to one weekend: The USA Pro Cycling Challenge rides into Steamboat on Aug. 26 and out the next day.

Just what that weekend will look like remains unclear. Riders will come to Steamboat Springs after a stop in Avon and return a day later to Breckenridge. A spokesperson for the race, which was renamed from the Quiznos Pro Challenge, said the actual routes won’t be announced until the middle of next month.

While planning has long been under way to make that weekend a great one with music and parties, those details, too, are being firmed up.

Still, in that murkiness is the hinge on which Steamboat’s summer will swing.

“The organizers of that event spent a lot of time in Steamboat and understand how passionate Steamboat is as a community about cycling,” said Grant Fenton, of the Bike Town USA task force. “It’s a tribute to the people who have been working hard to schedule those events. They’re really working hard to put on a great experience for everyone involved.”

As important as that high-profile race might be, it’s only one of a wide variety of bike-related events headed to town in summer, and together, local organizers are hoping they all will help bring about a new biking reality in Steamboat.

The Routt County Riders’ Bike Swap and Festival is set for May 14. The large Ride the Rockies tour and Bike to Work Week loom in June, when local races kick into gear. The Tour de Steamboat waits July 16, tucked between more local races. Ride 4 Yellow returns Aug. 7, in the same month as the Pro Challenge, and the Steamboat Stage Race is scheduled for September.

“People will see a lot of events and a lot of riders, the events running the gamut from recreational rides to serious international competition,” Bike Town USA project coordinator Lane Malone said. “We will see even more enthusiasm for this vision of a great cycling community and events that demonstrate the variety of opportunities we have.”

New places to ride

This summer’s cycling activities will include more than big events, and many are hoping those big events draw attention to work being done across town to ensure that cycling in Steamboat is as good on a quiet day in July as it is on a celebratory one in August.

New trails should be among the first things people notice when the snow finally melts away.

Aryeh Copa led efforts in fall to build the Rotary Trail on the back side of Emerald Mountain. Volunteers got the four-mile trail more than halfway finished last year, though plenty of work remains.

“Basically, we’ve got most of the handwork done,” Copa said. “All that’s left is the downhill, so about a mile and a half to work on and some berms to build. It should be the fun stuff.

“We’re hoping to get a big push to get this done this spring when the other trails aren’t dried up yet for local riders.”

All eyes also will be on Mount Werner, where Steamboat Ski Area officials said their plans to break ground on a new network of downhill-only mountain bike trails is pending final U.S. Forest Service approval and the melting of the snow.

Ski area spokesman Mike Lane said the mountain’s regular trails should open in the middle of June and work can begin on the downhill trails “as soon as we get dry ground and approval.”

The deadline to submit comment on the new mountain trail plan is Monday.

Projects aplenty

Much of summer’s development related to biking will be in the city’s cycling infrastructure.

An effort to add signage that would make it easy for Steamboat newbies to navigate their bikes from their condos to downtown and any other hot spots is under way and could be among the first things ready in summer.

A Business of Biking seminar from 1:30 to 4 p.m. May 13 at Rex’s American Grill & Bar will cost $15 and is aimed at helping local businesses market themselves to the influx of cyclists expected in summer.

The event will be led by Randy Rudasics, of Colorado Mountain College, a small-business guru.

“That’s not a bike event in the traditional get out and ride sense, but it should really help local businesses,” Malone said.

Summer also should bring about more bike lanes on local roads and increased emphasis on a bike-to-school campaign, Fenton said. Other projects include new bike racks across the city, potentially extending the Yampa River Core Trail and helping plan the use of the city’s recently purchased ground on Emerald Mountain.

“Steamboat is full of amenities, and all of this is adding to that,” Fenton said. “We have believed all along bringing large events to Steamboat will be a catalyst to complete projects in Steamboat. People will be really excited this summer, and this will all continue to bring the community together.”

Event schedule

■ April

Monday: U.S. Forest Service project comment deadline for Steamboat Ski Area

■ May

13: Business of Biking workshop at Rex’s American Grill & Bar

14: Routt County Riders Bike Swap and Festival

25: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Road Race Training Series

■ June (Colorado Bike to Work Month)

1: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Road Race Training Series

8: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series  

10: Tour Divide race starts in Banff, Alberta. The field, nearly 100 riders this year, will pass through Steamboat in the ensuing two weeks.

14 to 16: Ride the Rockies road bicycling tour

15: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Road Race Training Series, and Steamboat Ski Area opens for summer operations. Trail openings will be weather dependent but should happen at about the same time.

22: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series

22: Routt County Riders Bike to Work Day

21 and 22: Bicycle Tour of Colorado road bicycling tour

25: Steamboat Optimist Club and city of Steamboat Springs Youth Bicycle Safety Rodeo   

26: Steamboat Springs Running Series Craig Duathlon

■ July

6: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series

16: Kent Eriksen Tour de Steamboat — 25-, 40- and 100-mile supported road rides, fundraiser for the Sunshine Kids Foundation

20: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series

24: Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race, Presented by Honey Stinger

24: Steamboat Triathlon — sprint distance

20 and 22: Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports Behind the Boat Waterski and Cycling Camp

27: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Road Race Training Series

■ August

3: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series

7: Ride 4 Yellow — Continental Divide mountain bike challenge benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation Livestrong and Steamboat Springs in the fight against cancer

10: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Road Race Training Series

17: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series

24: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Road Race Training Series

25: SmartWool Bike-In Movie

26: Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports U.S. Handcycling Challenge

26 and 27: USA Pro Cycling Challenge international stage race

27: Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports Biking the Boat Charity Ride

28: Steamboat Triathlon — Olympic distance

31: Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series

■ September

2 to 5: Steamboat Stage Race, presented by Moots

16: Steamboat OktoberWest Pedaling Posse Parade

■ October

8: 5th annual Steamboat Springs Mustache Ride — cruiser bike rally and fundraiser for Routt County Humane Society

Source: Bike Town USA Initiative

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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