Bikes filled racks and littered the fence Friday evening in front of Sweetwater Grill in downtown Steamboat Springs. Realizing a business benefit from the cycling initiative will take a communitywide effort, leaders said, from the rebranding of Steamboat Springs as a biking hub to efforts from local businesses to more closely identify with cyclists.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Bikes filled racks and littered the fence Friday evening in front of Sweetwater Grill in downtown Steamboat Springs. Realizing a business benefit from the cycling initiative will take a communitywide effort, leaders said, from the rebranding of Steamboat Springs as a biking hub to efforts from local businesses to more closely identify with cyclists.

Steamboat's plans for biking could offer business opportunities


— Bike Town USA president Grant Fenton wrapped up Friday’s section of the second annual Steamboat Springs Bike Summit by insisting the term Bike Town USA isn’t a marketing ploy, pointing out that while the group’s stated 2012 goals include a bike skills park, way-finding signs and beginner mountain bike terrain, they do not include anything about marketing.

Still, much of Friday was dedicated to the financial implications of a continued focus by Steamboat Springs on cycling.

The short-term news may not be good for local business owners, but organizers insist the long-term outlook is remarkably positive.

The key, they said, is in rebranding summer in Steamboat Springs.

“Steamboat is branded as a ski destination in the winter. It’s really simple, and the public understands that. I don’t think we truly have a brand in the summer,” said Robin Craigen, a local business owner and the leader of the Bicycle Friendly Business committee through Routt County Riders. “Our brand is somewhat generic, a lot of the characteristics we share with other mountain towns. We have a lot of events, which are good opportunities to bring people here for the weekend, but we need to decide if we as a community can brand ourselves as a biking destination.”

Craigen said it will be neither quick nor easy for local businesses to cash in on Bike Town but that it’s definitely possible.

He’s hoping as much as anyone. He and his wife run Moving Mountains Chalets, which rents vacation homes in Steamboat. Craigen said 90 percent of his business comes during the winter. When asked if he’d realized a biking bump yet, he was honest.

“The sad reality is no,” he said. “We see a different pattern of business from summer to winter. Summer is a small part of our business because it’s not economical to rent a house for just two or three nights. … We do very good on weekends, but we don’t have a compelling message to get four-, five- or six-night stays.”

In his position with Routt County Riders, Craigen has helped identify 11 Steamboat businesses as bike friendly. He said everything from a bike rack out front to a focus on sustainability help land a business on the list that he expects to double before long.

The trick for a company isn’t in selling out to bikers but in aligning a business strategy in a way bikers appreciate and catering to what can sometimes be unique needs.

The message emanating from the summit was that the endgame can be worth it. Speakers from Fort Collins and Boulder pounded that point home. City of Fort Collins cycling guru Dave Kemp pointed to bike shop/bars that have opened in that city and to the resounding success New Belgium Brewery has found while embracing cycling as much as any company in the country.

Matt Kolb, meanwhile, found his own success by biking in Boulder. He started Pedal to Properties, a real estate agency that can sum up several of the day’s points. He said when he first started, the biking proved a novelty, and it wore off. He doubled down on his business idea, however, sticking with the bikes but improving his company with better, more enthusiastic Realtors.

It wasn’t just the bikes, he said, but the bikes played a part.

“Now we’re one of the top five agencies in Boulder in volume,” he said. “We’re definitely not one of the top five agencies in size.

“People laughed at me. They still do. Sometimes at a closing the other Realtor will ask, ‘Did you ride your bike here,’ and chuckle. Then his client will say, ‘Oh! You’re the Pedal to Prosperities guy!’

“We have the best Realtors in Boulder, and they’re doing this because they believe in it. There’s a real team concept.”

Kolb even came with a Steamboat-specific tip for a rebranding effort.

The University of Colorado football isn’t off to the hottest start this season, but he said he’s still expecting the Buffalos to usher in a different kind of autumn in Boulder. The school’s jump from the Great Plains-focused Big 12 to the West Coast-centric Pacific-12 could bring an entirely different kind of customer to Colorado.

While Texas A&M Aggies and Iowa State Cyclones may have been quick to jump in and out of the state on airplanes, often casting a leery eye at Boulder’s uniqueness, Ducks from Oregon or Bears from California will be more likely to soak up the Rocky Mountain lifestyle.

There’s no reason that can’t include a trip to Bike Town USA.

“What I’d do, find out when those home games are and advertise there and say, ‘Hey, drive up from Boulder to Bike Town USA,’” he said. “They are people from affluent communities in the Pac-12, and they’re bringing a whole different element to Colorado than we’ve ever seen before. Steamboat has an opportunity to capture that.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email


insbsdeep 5 years, 6 months ago

Bike Town USA is all about the marketing.

As much as I am for most of the projects and initiatives, I do no think our summer branding should be centered around a single slogan, for a single sport. What about the running events, kayaking, fishing, hiking, rodeo, art festivals, concerts, car events, and hundreds of other things to do in Steamboat in the summertime.

We need to get over the hurdles with the forest service to build bike trails on the mountain, and get the core trail extended west of town. Even then I think we will fall short of being the top bike community in the US in regard to bike infrastructure, number of bike commuters, or as a bike destination.

I think we need to promote our biking, but Bike Town USA is a stretch.


cindy constantine 5 years, 6 months ago

Amen, insbsdeep!!! Further, it may actually erode our growing summer tourism business that we have been building for years as many of our summer guests are not bikers. Plenty of other mountain communities to visit that equately promote ALL their summer activities.


sedgemo 5 years, 6 months ago

Just have to say this... in the western tradition, REBRANDING was considered a hanging offense.


mtroach 5 years, 6 months ago

Indeep is right on, We already went "all in" for one summer savior,Triple Crown, and that backfired. Steamboat need to produce marketing that shows ALL the great things we offer in the summer, and use the current marketing group for this town to do it, the Chamber. Doubleing our marketing efforts by introducing another group to market a singular aspect of our summer offerings is wasteful and in this time of budget cuts and city layoffs, waste needs to be curtailed, and even marketing efforts need to be streamlined. Or the BTUSA needs outside of government funding to achieve it's goals.


Zed 5 years, 6 months ago

Agree with above comments - We do need an initiative to improve Steamboat cycling and many gains have been seen this year, but let's do it in a way that keeps it one part of the many great aspects of summer in Steamboat and let's not give ourselves such a silly name until we have earned it.

I suspect the cyclist that are attracted are not coming just for the "world class" cycling, they are coming because there are many great non-cycling activities for them and their families/friends. While some great cycling events in town may draw people in, we are far from being a destination for the general cycling public.


cindy constantine 5 years, 6 months ago

All we need is for one elite cyclist to have too many close encounters with motorhomes pulling boats, semis delivering hay, moving vans pulling onto the road for this whole initiative to fall on its face. Whose idea was it any way to paint sharrows on Elk River Road? Probably one of this single dumbest things this city has done this year. Scares me every time I drive to the feed store and think about it.


John St Pierre 5 years, 6 months ago

We spent the day in Summit County yesterday... to call Steamboat Bike Town USA is such a strech.. anyone who thinks we are cycling oriented should spend afew hours on the bike trails in Summit county. the ENTIRE county is connected via dedicated,paved bike paths.... miles and miles and miles of it.... if there is an example to follow its right up the road..... but why duplicate what already exists???? Lets focus on what we have..... no crowds, easy access to natural wonders.... Summit is a suburb of Denver now..... why not push that we are not.... we're what Colorado high country use to be..."get away from the crowds" "come see the real Colorado"!!!!!!!!


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

So assuming this all comes through then it would appear to be much less than the local MMJ businesses. So why are we willing to work so hard to get much less than what we are willing to ban?


mtntrekker 5 years, 6 months ago

We are Ski Town USA, why not Bike Town USA? Maybe change the name? There are tons of bike riders here, but they are mostly locals. Yes we need to market/advertise biking more to attract more summer tourism. Tourism = $$$. How else will people around the county know to bike here? Summit bikepaths work because you can bike to other towns. All the towns are within a 10 mile radius of Frisco There is only one town here. Yes extend the core trail to Steamboat II and Milner. Extend it out to Haymaker/Staxx. I ride Elk River road to work (just to copper ridge circle) 3-4 times a week. Since there is no shoulder, hopefully the sharrows will let drivers know I will be on it.


ybul 5 years, 6 months ago

I think the above comment about bikers not just wanting biking is what it is all about. The issue is about the whole the community has to offer. Unfortunately we tend to latch on to a sliver of the whole which is going to make everything better and it does not. Focusing on the whole is what is needed.

What is the point of becoming bike town USA? To bring in more dollars, but why - that is the underlying question that still needs to be answered - otherwise we are just chasing more for the sake of more and that simply tends to create a less rewarding life/community. Might at some point detract from location neutrals - which are bringing in year round well being - not seasonal.


BeCoolHoneyBunny 5 years, 6 months ago

Totally agree with ybul. Why are we always seeking more of this or that? Growth of whatever it may be is not always a good thing.


cindy constantine 5 years, 6 months ago


Always appreciate your thoughtful comments. A tourist based economy is what we have and the summer marketing will take us into the future. I love the fact that we have biking events and a variety of venues to enjoy the sport, BUT we are so much more. Hence your comment of "focusing on the whole". The WHY to me is obvious (imho). I LIKE our beautiful parks, river trail, summer concerts, etc that the tourist dollars allow the locals to enjoy. Our great quality of life, I believe comes at a price that includes making the guests happy so they will "talk us up" and continue to re-visit our valley. The locals get to enjoy the amenities year around based on the sales tax dollars that guests spend.


Zed 5 years, 6 months ago

"It would appear to be much less than the local MMJ businesses."

I am not sure about that, let's compare the sales dollars for the five bike shops in town to that of the MMJ pharmacies. And while we might be a world class MMJ destination, I don't see what the MMJ folks add to our summer tourism offerings?


ybul 5 years, 6 months ago

Don't get me wrong I love the parks, entertainment that comes with it. HOwever, focusing on one facet... bike town, skate town, tube town or whatever does not focus on the whole.

In addition, spending $1 to bring in outside revenue should be working towards a goal of some sort.

The WHY is not obvious to me. More tourism is not the end all be all here. It is the core industry in the valley and needs cared after as we need to maintain the components of what draws people here otherwise they may not return, if say the valley were covered with power lines as is the area near rifle.

Shoot a salaried teacher at CMC teaching Mandarin - probably would be a good idea in the long run - if you are after tourist dollars. Just because this is where the market is today does not mean it will be there tomorrow.

The Why is that we live in a beautiful place, enjoy sharing it with others and enjoy a vibrant entertainment environment (parks, concerts, whatever).

To do so we want to promote/have business' which enhance our quality of life and environment.

The future vision (ie the goal) In the valley we are working towards a community where people are less dependent upon social services (lift up, Boys and Girls club, Habitat, etc. - as people are able to afford those things working on their own - key word is working), in a welcoming community, that embraces the natural world or whatever.

That in essence is what we are working towards and sometimes we do things that move us towards more of this - but take us further away from more of that. It is all a give and take - the question is where do we want it to lead us. All I ever see is more tourism, revenue, etc..

Where is it that all this more is taking us? There needs to be a point to it. Like health care, in its current form is simply taking care of our sick and not trying to educate people on good nutrition which could prevent many illness'. But I am rambling now and really feel that the vision 2030 glosses over what I think is needed. A statement that this is what we value, what we will do and what we want the community to look like in 5-10,000 years (probably always need to work on something as the world is always changing and most of what we strive for will be the same wether it is 10 minutes from now or 10,000 years).


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