Covering new terrain and expecting more riders, Tour de Steamboat returns Saturday
More stories from Kent Eriksen
Eriksen was a mountain biking pioneer not just in Steamboat Springs but in the entire industry.
He sat down for the "21 Pairs of Shoes: Steamboat Sports and Adventures" podcast and told some of the stories, talking about those early days of the sport, putting down roots in Steamboat Springs and building not one, but two, successful bike manufacturing companies in the city.
Eriksen toured the Western United States on his bike, once spent a week as a cowboy working a cattle drive and thinks he knows how we'll all transport ourselves in 100 years.
Check out the podcast at http://www.SteamboatToday.com or by searching "Steamboat" in iTunes or any podcast app.
If you go
What: Tour de Steamboat
When: Saturday, July 23
How to sign up: Registration is available at http://www.tourdesteamboat.com/register/ until 4 p.m. Thursday for between $65 and $115, depending on the ride selected. Riders can still register during packet pickup, scheduled to run from 3 p.m. to 8 Friday at Ski Haus. Registering Friday will cost $25 extra.
Steamboat Springs — There was a time getting to the end first was what Tour de Steamboat was all about.
It was a cycling race back in 1975 when Kent Eriksen helped found the event — one he was thrilled to win frequently in those early days, at least until 1984 Olympic cycling gold medalist Alexi Grewal showed up one year.
“He made my life pretty rough,” said Eriksen, who started Sore Saddle Cyclery before founding Moots Cycles. “I guess I was the guy to beat in Steamboat for awhile, but Alexi came up and whooped me.”
He paused from telling the story for a moment, remembering those days.
“I wasn’t that far back.”
Things are different now, in plenty of ways. Sore Saddle is no more, its location now home to Orange Peel Bicycle Service, and Eriksen has moved on from Moots, starting a new titanium bike company, Kent Eriksen Cycles.
The Tour de Steamboat, too, is entirely different since the event was reborn in 2003.
It still involves bikes, of course, but is now a non-competitive ride — a huge fundraising driver for several local organizations — and the goal is now not to be the first to finish but to get as many as possible to finish.
The ride has been continually more successful in that pursuit and expects to again pedal into new territory when it returns Saturday, setting participation records as organizers usher in several significant changes.
Eriksen’s Kent Eriksen Cycles serves as the lead sponsor for the event, and his wife, Katie Lindquist, is one of its lead organizers.
The course for the main ride of the day will see a substantial change.
The 116-mile ride will be a long haul up Rabbit Ears Pass, southeast toward Kremmling, back west to go up and over Gore Pass, then north toward Steamboat Springs. Those basics remain the same, but where previous versions have swung riders off of Colorado Highway 131 and toward Stagecoach Reservoir, the course will now route them through the town of Yampa, along Routt County Road 17 to Oak Creek, then to Steamboat on Colo. 131.
“Both Yampa and Oak Creek are really excited to have us this year,” said Abi Slingsby, one of the event’s organizers. “They’ve been asking us to bring the Tour through.”
She said Oak Creek has pledged to have an officer on duty to look after the riders coming through town while Yampa dived in head first and has provided a healthy supply of volunteers.
“The whole town of Yampa has basically volunteered for that aid station,” Slingsby said.
The second major change adds a whole new element to the day.
This year’s ride will of course feature the 116-mile course, as well as a 26-mile loop through Sydney Peak Ranch south of Steamboat and a 46-mile ride to Stagecoach Reservoir, through Oak Creek and back to Steamboat.
For the first time, the event also will feature a fourth course, stretching 66 miles from Steamboat, by Stagecoach, to Yampa then back.
“People wanted something between a 116-mile ride and a 46-mile ride,” Slingsby said. “Forty-six wasn’t quite enough and 116, with all those passes, was too much, so we decided to add this halfway ride. It’s not as strenuous with all the climbs. It has a nice climb, but it’s not as crazy elevation as the other ride.”
Slingsby said that new distance has not cannibalized the other rides, but instead, helped attract new riders. Registration is up at least 100 riders from last year, she said, and the ride could come as close as it ever has to its 1,000-rider limit.
Registration remains open http://www.tourdesteamboat.com/register/ until 4 p.m. Thursday for between $65 and $115, depending on the ride selected. Riders will then still be able to register at packet pickup, scheduled to run from 3 p.m. to 8 Friday at Ski Haus. Registering Friday will cost $25 extra.
The ride benefits Partners in Routt County, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide (REPS), Routt County Riders and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. It raised more than $60,000 last year.
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