Steamboat Springs For Chula Beauregard, cycling represents more than physical and environmental health. It also represents the health of a community.
Bicyclists can stop and chat with one another on the Yampa River Core Trail, she said. And they can worry a little less about finding the perfect parking spot downtown and more about waving to a friend across Lincoln Avenue.
It’s that sense of social connection she hopes will resonate throughout the community when she paints a large cycling-themed mural high on the east-facing brick wall of Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue.
“It’s a strong message right away that you get from looking at a mural,” she said.
The project, which began as Beauregard’s way of contributing what she can to the cycling community, has snowballed into an effort backed by the Bike Town USA initiative and Routt County Riders.
Bike Town USA project coordinator Lane Malone called the project “momentous.”
“It was Chula Beauregard’s idea to use public art in the form of a mural to really illustrate the vision of a great biking community here in Steamboat Springs,” Malone said. “The critical thing is, it’s not an advertisement for the bike shop. It’s not a billboard. It’s about biking in Steamboat, and it’s very cool.”
Beauregard is an accomplished mural artist with Routt County work that includes the rams on Soroco High School and the winter scene at the entrance to Howelsen Ice Arena.
She already has finished a conceptual sketch of the potential mural, which will be subject to approval from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and the Steamboat Springs Planning Department.
“It tells a story,” Beauregard said about the mural. “It’s our culture of cycling but also our landscapes, which is what makes this such a great place to bike.”
The 12-foot-by-20-foot mural depicts a mountain biker, a road biker and a cruiser bike. It also gives a nod to the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series and the picturesque Routt County backdrops such as rural barns and aspen trees.
In the middle of the mural is a scroll of paper onto which Beauregard plans to transfer drawings done by local students.
She hopes that the youth outreach aspect of the work will incorporate the Bike Town USA vision of the next generation of cyclists in the community.
An uphill climb
Beauregard said the plan is to start the project in summer and have it completed by the time the Quizno’s Pro Challenge bike race comes through Steamboat in late August.
However, there is a lot of work left to do before she cracks open buckets of vibrantly colored exterior house paint.
Beauregard said the project will cost just more than $12,000, and she is actively writing grants to secure some of that funding from government sources and foundations.
However, about half the funds are likely to come from the community, and a few entities, like Ski & Bike Kare, already have started pitching in.
Store co-owners Harry Martin and Mike Parra are understandably on board with the Bike Town USA vision of Steamboat as a cycling destination.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Martin said. “It’s good for the entire town to be another destination in the summertime.”
Ski & Bike Kare contributed $500 to the project and will match as much as $1,500 in community donations.
“It just shows the tourists and the locals how involved in biking the community is,” Martin said about the project.
Deborah Colgan, a local resident and supporter of the arts, pledged to match as much as $3,000 in new donations for the project because for her, the value is in the project’s artistic nature.
“An easy way to have more art in the community is to have some outdoor art,” said Colgan, who sits on the Quizno’s Pro Challenge Sponsorship Committee with Malone. “The mural is perfect. People are going to drive into town and say, ‘Wow.’”
To reach Nicole Inglis call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com