Emerald Mountain Epic hopes for big returns in 2nd year | SteamboatToday.com

Emerald Mountain Epic hopes for big returns in 2nd year

— It’s with an eye toward winter that riders will take to Emerald Mountain on Saturday, bringing Steamboat Springs’ inaugural Bike Week to a close with a long tour on some of the region’s most popular trails.

The Emerald Mountain Epic returns Saturday for its second year, and director Chuck O’Connell said the hope is the event’s inclusion in Bike Week can give it some Bike Town synergy as it attempts to prepare Colorado athletes for Olympic success.

The Emerald Mountain Epic is a supported trail ride set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. It will stretch across 26 miles of singletrack on Emerald Mountain, a ride that organizers hope can live up to its name.

There’s also a half-Emerald Epic ride available for those worried about an Epic overdose.

The course will go over the top of the downtown Steamboat Springs mountain, down the Beall Trail, around Rotary Trail and back.

“It’s an opportunity to put in a long day of aid-station supported riding without having to worry about, ‘Am I on the right trail?’” O’Connell said.

The ride will cost $45 for the full 26 miles or $35 for the half-distance version. Teenagers will be able to ride for $25 for either course, or $15 if they’re riding with an adult. Children 12 and younger can participate free.

A post-race barbecue will cost non-riding guests $10.

The money will go to support the United States Ski and Snowboard Association’s Rocky Mountain Division, in particular that division’s Gold Medal Initiative.

The Initiative was founded with the goal of helping Colorado athletes reach the top of the Olympic podium. For all its success, the state actually has had a bizarre amount of trouble accomplishing that feat.

Only Eddie Eagan, a bobsledder in the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., has ever been born in Colorado and won winter gold.

“It was created about 10 years ago to help fund upper-level or elite-level programming that is in line with the goal of putting a Colorado-born athlete on the top step of the podium,” O’Connell said. “It doesn’t directly fund an athlete, but it funds programs that are geared toward upper-level athlete programs.”

That can include training camps, for instance.

O’Connell said in his role with Christy Sports, he sees a nearly endless parade of fundraisers looking to local businesses, and he added that he and the company are happy to help. But with the Emerald Mountain Epic, he hopes the Rocky Mountain Division has found a different way to raise the funds it needs in a way a town in love with skiing and cycling can appreciate.

“We wanted to come up with something that would actually bring business to Steamboat,” he said. “In the long run, the Emerald Mountain Epic has the infrastructure and singletrack draw and that it could produce a similar draw to something like the Tour de Steamboat.”

Registration and other information is available here.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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