Steamboat Springs By the time Steamboat Springs resident David Epperson began studying photography at San Francisco State University in the 1970s, he knew he’d live a life with a camera always in hand.
Another mainstay in much of Epperson’s life has been mountain biking, and a life dedicated to a bond of both just landed Epperson an induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. He will be honored at a ceremony Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.
It all started on the Southern California coast, where Epperson invested in a camera to snap shots of a friend surfing. A surfer himself at the time, Epperson decided to pursue a degree in photography and was hired by Surfer Magazine shortly after graduating from college.
It didn’t take long for others to notice his work.
Surfer Magazine “had a sister magazine that called me and asked me to shoot a new company called MountainBikes that was in Fairfax in Marin County,” Epperson said. “That’s when I met Gary Fisher and Tom Ritchey and first started shooting mountain biking.”
Epperson, 58, now works primarily for Getty Images, a Seattle-based stock photo agency. But long before Getty came calling, Epperson’s 35-plus years of work was found in numerous publications, including Time magazine, Velo News and Mountain Bike Action.
He also has done extensive commercial work for cycling businesses, including Specialized, Diamondback and Mongoose as well as local companies Moots Cycles and Kent Eriksen Cycles. One of his proudest accomplishments, he said, is being a founding editor of the magazine Bicycle Sport, which launched in 1983.
Kent Eriksen, a 1996 Hall of Fame inductee, said Epperson is an inspiration for the sport and photojournalism. Epperson’s years of dedicated work were enough to earn Eriksen’s Hall of Fame vote.
“He put the time in to get the good photos and got people to buy them, so he must be pretty darn good,” Eriksen said. “He just takes a lot of good shots. It’s like, 'Wow, who shot that one? Oh, it’s Dave Epperson.'”
A Southern California native and former resident of Marin County, Calif., Epperson made the move to Steamboat Springs in 1990 not for cycling but for a girlfriend. But with the girlfriend now “ancient history,” living and working in two of the United States’ premier mountain biking scenes proved to be a great fit for him.
“Marin County is mostly fire roads and a lot of the terrain is rolling hills and pine trees,” Epperson said, comparing the two areas. “We have really beautiful views of the ocean, whereas Steamboat has some of the best singletrack in the country. We also have the mountain peaks and aspen groves not found in Marin. The terrain here is more varied than Marin.”
Photojournalism came first, but cycling quickly stole Epperson’s heart. More than three decades later, neighbor Jenette Settle and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Charles Kelly nominated him for the honor.
Being named a Hall of Famer won’t keep Epperson from continuing his active lifestyle and career for many years to come.
“I don’t think I’ll ever retire,” Epperson said. “I love photography. I may not be able to ride to the top of Mount Werner in 25 years and photograph, but I will always be behind a camera and working.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204 or email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com
Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club