Steamboat Springs Grant Fenton describes himself as a very average cyclist who is probably happiest when riding a cruiser bike.
“I don’t even own a road bike,” said Fenton, the recipient of this year’s Navigator Award for Businessperson of the Year.
It didn’t take a career in bike racing for Fenton, 45, to rise to become one of the leaders in the Steamboat Springs cycling community. All it took was a vision for how Steamboat could become a true year-round vacation destination known as more than Ski Town USA.
“He knew that a lot of people were working on biking in this community, but those people weren’t necessarily talking to each other, so he saw an opportunity to make something happen,” said Steamboat Restaurant Group owner Rex Brice, a close friend and business associate of Fenton’s.
The idea for a Bike Town USA Initiative was formed in 2008 while Fenton was competing in a seven-day mountain bike race in British Columbia. He was impressed with what the province had to offer.
“It was just eye-opening as to what could happen and what potential our community has and where this could go,” Fenton said.
The idea grew and really got cranking in 2009, when a group of community leaders sat down together to discuss the possibilities.
“The idea was to bring together everyone that had something to do with cycling so they could all communicate with each other,” Fenton said.
Under Fenton’s leadership, the group led the effort to create a first-ever Steamboat Springs bike guide, has hosted two bike summit conferences and is credited with helping to attract the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to Steamboat for two days this summer.
The group continues to work on projects that would help make the Bike Town USA moniker less of a vision and more of a reality. Ten years from now, Fenton envisions safe cycling routes to schools, cycling as an economic development tool and cycling as a viable form of transportation in Steamboat.
“The reality is the vision of the (Yampa River) Core Trail is supposed to go from Steamboat Springs to Dinosaur,” Fenton said. “That would be the vision that something happens like that in 10 years.”
Friends and colleagues say Fenton’s Businessperson of the Year recognition is worthy beyond his involvement in the cycling community.
Rich Lowe has worked closely with Fenton on the Bike Town USA Initiative. He praised Fenton’s honesty, integrity, leadership skills and “vision about what’s coming down the road.”
“We need more people like that,” Lowe said.
Fenton runs Steamboat Investment Advisors and has served as a mentor for many local business owners.
“We looked at opportunities in this community for five years before I finally found something that made sense, and I credit him for a lot of my success,” said Brice, who owns Mazzola’s Majestic Italian Diner, Rex’s American Grill & Bar, Big House Burger & Bottle Cap Bar and Lil’ House Country Biscuits & Coffee.
Since 2008, Fenton has served as a board member for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and is active with the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs, where he led the effort to build the new 4.5-mile, multipurpose Rotary Trail on the back side of Emerald Mountain.
Nine years ago, Fenton started the Christmas Wishes program out of his living room, where family and friends brought gifts to give to a needy local family. The program has grown substantially, with 45 families receiving gifts in 2010.
“It’s amazing the power in seeing 500 or 600 gifts in a room and what that means to our community,” Fenton said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com