900 participate in Tour de Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

900 participate in Tour de Steamboat

— The ride might be longer, and there are a lot more riders, but Scott Fleming says the Tour de Steamboat is shockingly similar to the way it was 41 years ago.

“Essentially, the ambiance of the ride is very similar to how it was,” said Fleming, who helped organize the inaugural race in 1975.

The idea for the race was sparked when Fleming and Kent Eriksen were riding a 50-mile road bike loop passing through Oak Creek.

About 30 people showed up for that first September race. On their way back from Oak Creek, Eriksen and Fleming teamed up against a hot shot from Frisco and broke away on Kill Hill.

They sprinted on Lincoln Avenue to the finish at the Cameo Bar at Seventh Street.

“He managed to beat me by a wheel,” Fleming said.

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It was a reunion Saturday as Fleming participated in the Tour de Steamboat for the first time since leaving in the mid 1980s.

It is now a ride — not a race — and the longest ride summits three mountain passes through the course of 116 miles.

Participation has grown 2,900 percent since 1975, and proceeds now benefit four local charities. Last year, $60,000 was raised for Partners in Routt County, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, Routt County Riders and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

There were four options during this year’s ride, including a new 66-mile out-and-back to Yampa.

“We’re up about 200 riders (over last year), said Katie Lindquist, Eriksen’s wife.

The couple runs Kent Eriksen Cycles, which makes custom titanium cycles out of a shop at Yampa and 13th Streets. The company is the lead sponsor for the event.

For the second year, Eriksen rode the course on his custom tandem bike with Steamboat resident Joan Donham. The bike has advantages, as well as disadvantages.

“It’s really fast on the descents,” Eriksen said after finishing the ride. “It’s a little humbling going up the hills.”

Lindquist, who puts on the race with a small army of volunteers, anticipates the ride will soon reach its cap of 1,000 participants.

“If we got 900 this year, we will,” she said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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