Birthplace of modern mountain biking listed for $2.4M
The iconic cone-shaped building on the corner of Yampa and 11th streets in downtown Steamboat Springs was once a wood-waste burner before being moved to become the home for Sore Saddle Cyclery and Moots Bicycles.
The 6,771-square-foot property is now for sale for $2.4 million, and it includes the three-story building where Moots, one of the first purpose-built mountain bike manufacturers in the country, got its start. There are also two additions that were built more recently.
The building is owned by Kent Eriksen and Bruce Alston, who teamed up in the late 1980s to provide a space where Eriksen’s Sore Saddle Cyclery business could expand into a year-round operation
“The cone-shaped building was basically an incinerator for the saw mill, and I thought it was really kind of an irony that it used to pollute the whole town of Steamboat, and I was kind of an anti-pollution nut back then,” Eriksen said. “I ended up buying it from the city for $1, but it cost a lot more than that to put up.”
He credited Tom Watry, who recently died, for inspiring him to purchase an incinerator while on a bike ride and architect Joe Robbins for helping Eriksen get the project approved by Steamboat Springs City Council.
To do that, Eriksen and mechanic Steve Keselik used cutting torches to cut around the perimeter of the incinerator, which was located near the Lithium Springs, and separate it into eight different pieces plus the top. The pieces were then loaded onto a trailer and moved to the Yampa Street location. A tower with wagon wheel-type spokes was built at the top to support the pieces of the incinerator, and then it was reassembled.
“It was 1980, and we had just bought the building, and we had the bike shop running and started wondering what else we could do in the wintertime,” Alston said. “Our mechanic Steve Keselik ended up going to Seattle to learn how to build bikes from Bruce Gordon, and then he came back and taught Kent and I. That’s how Moots kind of started.”
The Steamboat-based bicycle manufacturer became well known for its innovation and progressive ideas. Moots introduced the full-suspension YBB frame in the mid-1980s, and in 1991, Moots began manufacturing mountain bikes and road bicycles from titanium.
Moots continued to gain recognition in the bicycle industry when it began building custom bikes for professional cyclists, such as Steve Tilford, Mike Kluge, Albert Eiten and Andy Hampsten in the 1990s.
Alston and Eriksen sold Moots and Sore Saddle in the early 1990s to Tripp Harrelson and Mike Sanders. Those owners split the two businesses in 1995. They retained ownership of Sore Saddle Cyclery and sold Moots to Chris Miller, who moved the factory to a new manufacturing facility in Copper Ridge.
Eriksen remained involved with Moots until 2005 when he left the company to start Kent Eriksen Cycles in the same building where he started Moots. In December 2016, Brad Bingham, Eriksen’s longtime friend and colleague, purchased Kent Eriksen Cycles to continue his titanium bike building legacy with Bingham Built Bikes.
Sore Saddle Cyclery closed its doors in 2005. Orange Peel Bicycle Service, which was located in the back of BAP for many years, then moved into the space and still operates out of the location. Orange Peel agreed to a one-year lease, Eriksen said. The building also houses Powder Hounds, Tour de Steamboat and two additional businesses.
“We would love to find someone who would preserve this unique building in Steamboat Springs and the birth place of modern mountain biking,” said Marc Bennett, a real estate agent with Team Yazbeck, of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, which has the property listed.
“At this point, it is just a part of our bike history in Steamboat, and I’m blessed to be part of it,” Alston said. “It would be great if someone had a vision to keep it, but who knows? It’s going to take someone with their own vision to create what they want to have happen in that corner.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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