Joel Reichenberger: Defining Bike Town


Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or

Find more columns by Joel here.

— I couldn’t help but sympathize with Corey Piscopo’s sentiment last week when, after a disappointing community response to the third annual Steamboat Springs Stage Race, he wondered about “Bike Town burnout.”

It’s been a long summer for biking, and things seemed to pick up at the end. I feel bad for the organizers of the stage race, but I can’t blame Steamboat’s apathy, either. It’s been all biking all the time, and that had hit its climax during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The action in the stage race was fast and exciting and, with two of the four days taking place entirely within Steamboat Springs city limits, easy to access. But the energy bled away, drip by drip through June and July and in one great wave in late August with the Pro Cycling Challenge.

Can Steamboat be Bike Town USA if we sometimes get tired of biking? I don’t know why not, though I’m not among the Bike Town bemoaners.

The basis of the claim on that title is the vast and varied options available to cyclists in Steamboat, but most of the evidence that supports the claim has been events: last summer’s Lance Armstrong Ride 4 Yellow buzz, the Tour de Steamboat, the popular and competitive Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series events and this summer’s Pro Cycling Challenge stages.

That won’t always be the case, though. Steamboat isn’t known for its winter sports because of events, and when more trails are ready and signage issues are sorted out, it won’t be known for biking because of its events, either.

To me, that’s what the Bike Town task force is about. The Bike Town USA task force is composed largely of volunteers, people from various local entities who came together to help push through plans. Its accomplishments haven’t come stamped “BTUSA,” but from the trails at the ski area to the Pro Cycling Challenge’s stop in Steamboat, you can be sure task force members were involved.

The second annual Steamboat Springs Bike Summit is on the horizon, scheduled for Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, and would be a great place for all of Steamboat to take part in the process of hashing out what all of this will mean.

There aren’t any major cycling events between now and then, so there’s time for all of us to take a breath and put biking momentarily on the back burner before we revisit it with fresh eyes.

“Bike Town USA” is just a marketing phrase, but in the end, it will mean whatever Steamboat decides it means. Help make that decision, or don’t complain.


steamboatsprings 5 years, 8 months ago

Nice article Joel. Events may be one of the better way to publicize bike town usa right now but they are not what makes us BTUSA. That is the incredible biking opportunities we have and the passionate community of bikers here that makes them possible.


1999 5 years, 8 months ago

we've been an outstanding bike town for decades.

we don't need to change our name to attract bike enthusiasts.

let BTUSA remane a "task force". we don't need the name change.

do those people working together really need a moniker to continue their work?


sounds a little egocentric to me.


cindy constantine 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Joel for your thoughtful article. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned "bike town burnout". I hope when the Bike Summit meets they will look beyond their own biking agenda to a whole summer of different opportunities. I can't help but wonder if the $175,000+or- that was spent on this one initiative would not have been better spent on an advertising campaign in all those HOT cities within a days drive (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque-just a few that come to mind) showing a roaring Fish Creek Falls, fields of wild flowers, families biking the core trail, tubers in the river, etc. to show what a great summer location we are. I truly believe we would have gotten more "bang for the buck" with tangible results than hoping some bike race viewers in Europe are going to rush right over for a visit. After all, European country's economies are worse than ours. With skiing being a down industry the hope for our tourism economy totally lies in our ability to appeal to the driving public for the fabulous summers we all agree we have. After all, the favorite saying of the locals-say it with me-"we come to ski, we stay for the summers" . . . . .


A.J. Steiner 5 years, 8 months ago

"Help make that decision, or don’t complain."

I think that statement needs to be practiced each and every day. This is especially true today. 9/11/2011.

Complacency is the cancer of society.


Zed 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually the pro challenge stage was stamped the bike town usa stage and the jury is still out on what the real gain was for Steamboat, marketing or otherwise. There was an opportunity to share ski town usa with worldwide audience at the pro challenge and we used a generic and meaningless marketing term. Steamboat tourism is driven by many activities of which biking is only one, why pigeonhole ourselves? Bikers may come for a cycling event, but they are enjoying and may come back for many non biking activities. Leave the marketing to the chamber and ski area, and let's have initiatives for cycling be.commuty driven.

Also, when has bike town usa solicited feedback from the community for the plans they are pushing through? I may have missed public meetings this summer?


1999 5 years, 8 months ago

there have been no public forums for BTUSA.......just a select few driving it through.

certainly the money the taxpayers gave to BTUSA has not been accounted for.


mtntrekker 5 years, 8 months ago

I personally start to get burned out about this time of year from riding so much. So I take a week to 10 days off to recharge. It seems every bike event is crammed into our 10 weeks of summer. Joel says there are no major cycling events between now and the bike summit. Why not? Spread the events out into September. The weather is cooler this time of year. Beats riding in 88 degree weather.


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