Our View: Keep Steamboat’s wheels turning
Bike movement has gained impressive momentum — let’s keep it going through winter
October 31, 2010
With the first snowfall behind us and the calendar soon flipping to November, all but the most diehard cyclists in Routt County have put away their bikes until next spring. The enthusiasm for a coming ski season aside, this community can't afford to let winter slow the tremendous momentum achieved this year for cycling initiatives.
We'd say the recent inaugural Steamboat Springs Bike Summit was the icing on the cake for a productive 2010, but we're optimistic that dessert will come in the form of a winning bid for hosting a stage in next summer's Quizno's Pro Challenge stage race, which could attract some of the biggest names in professional cycling, as well as international media attention. An update on Steamboat's bid for hosting a stage is expected in November.
But even bad news from the Quizno's Pro Challenge couldn't detract from all the progress made this year.
Routt County Riders grew to nearly 500 members, and it hopes to double membership next year. The four-day Steamboat Springs Stage Race cemented itself as a top-notch amateur cycling competition. Tour de Steamboat and the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series continued to grow. A Safe Routes to Schools program included participation from 500 local children. Bike to Work Week participation in June swelled to record numbers. The inaugural Ride 4 Yellow attracted more than 200 riders, Lance Armstrong included, and raised more than $300,000 for cancer-fighting efforts.
Elite bike manufacturers Moots Cycles and Eriksen Cycles continue to prosper and call Steamboat Springs home. Armstrong became a partner of Steamboat Springs-based Honey Stinger, and his likeness and endorsement now are part of the company's product packaging and marketing. The city of Steamboat Springs is in the process of buying a 580-acre parcel of Emerald Mountain that is home to some of the best singletrack anywhere. The purchase, if completed, will ensure those trails remain accessible to future generations of riders.
The list goes on. A bicycle pump track was built in Ski Time Square during summer. The first downhill race was held on Creekside Trail at Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area completed a summer trails master plan that calls for significant expansion and organization of biking trails on Mount Werner. Just this past week, concrete crews were pouring a new connector trail that will safely lead walkers and cyclists from the Yampa River Core Trail to the mountain area via the U.S. Highway 40 underpass at Mount Werner Road.
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Despite all this, there's still much to be done. Enter the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative, which this year has brought together a number of the most important entities capable of achieving the initiative's broad goals.
The initiative seeks to establish Steamboat Springs and Routt County as the ultimate destination for cycling, regardless of whether it's the road, mountain or street cruising variety. Carrying out that vision will, in turn, create a significant economic driver for our community throughout summer and fall. Economic studies demonstrate the impact cycling has had in communities such as Whistler, British Columbia, where summer tourism outperforms winter tourism.
And the cycling initiative is in line with values we already hold dear, such as healthy, active lifestyles tied to our beautiful natural environment. It will enhance our community and our quality of life while providing new job opportunities and increasing sales tax revenues.
These goals aren't nearly as far-fetched as some might have you think. Routt County is thought to have more miles of singletrack mountain bike trails than any other community in the country. Our reputation as a premier cycling destination already is growing, and we remain an elite skiing destination. And for perhaps the first time, we have tremendous collaboration among entities including Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Routt County Riders, the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
Let's not let the momentum slow while the snow piles up around us this winter. We need the city, county, Routt County Riders, Ski Corp., the Chamber and others to continue their efforts even while negotiating the busy winter tourist season. We see great opportunity for us to market our cycling assets to winter visitors this season. But the effort also needs funding and buy-in from the larger community. With as much upside as the Bike Town USA Initiative offers, we see no reason for resistance. For more about the initiative, visit http://www.steamboatbiketown.com.