Skiing’s demise leads to surge in bike business in Steamboat |

Skiing’s demise leads to surge in bike business in Steamboat

Mike Braal, left, watches as Eric Hockman, of Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, tries out a new piece on the bike Braal brought in Wednesday for a tune-up. Local bike shops have reported a surge in business thanks to the unseasonably warm March and April that Steamboat Springs has enjoyed.

— The key, Todd Fellows said, is going fast and leaning back. That's how you skim a pond.

There may not be many seasons better for pond skimming, the art of gliding across water on snow skis. As for actual snow skiing and snowboarding, though, the going is rough, and that's made for unique and at times awkward situations for local ski and bike shops.

"The unusual part is we have guests in town wanting to go skiing and having to rent bicycles," said Fellows, who works at Ski Haus in Steamboat Springs. "These aren't summer tourists getting a jump on the crowds. Those are winter tourists being denied by the conditions."

Fellows and many others reported a surge in biking business in March, a month that left local shops scrambling to please spring break families still hoping for a few turns at Steamboat Ski Area and those who have packed away the skis and are eagerly eyeing the dirt trails that have popped up across town.

"Typically, we have about six weeks for us to kick the skis out of Ski Haus and get switched over for bikes," Fellows said. "The month after the mountain closes is usually just bad weather, and no one wants to go outside."

Now, bikers are revving their engines.

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The unprecedented warm weather — which this week forced the ski area to reduce its available terrain by about two-thirds — has made for plenty of busy days at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare in downtown Steamboat.

Bicycle technician Bill Martorano said the shop's been wrenching as hard as possible to keep up with the influx of riders looking for a tune.

He said the wait for work is running three to five days. The shop typically likes to be able to turn things around in 48 hours.

"That will happen at the end of ski season," he said.

Until then, half of the Ski & Bike Kare staff members still are working on checking skis in and out.

The shop's main sales floor represents the conflicted season.

Shinny ski boots lined one massive wall, and customers looked through skis lined up in a corner Wednesday. Elsewhere hung the newest models of bikes.

The demand is there. Owner Harry Martin said the store did more business in bikes in March than it did in skis.

"We got to February, and we were worried about having 2011 bikes still around, but in the span of about two weeks, they were all gone," Martorano said. "Then we got started building 2012 bikes because there was a demand to get them out there. People wanted them. Usually, we don't start doing that until right about now.

"It's been challenging."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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