Inaugural Steamboat Bike Fest to roll into town Thursday
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Every iconic Steamboat Springs tradition — each now a familiar staple on the local calendar — began as a first event. And this weekend, Bike Town USA gets to bear witness to its newest first event, the inaugural Steamboat Bike Fest.
Bike Fest is a celebration of two-wheeled activity and culture that kicks off Thursday, Sept. 6 and rolls on through Sunday, Sept. 9. It’s all inclusive of bike type and skill level, with events highlighting Steamboat’s most popular trails and most striking mountain and ranch landscapes.
The festival is hosted by Bike Town USA, a nonprofit organization with the mission to stimulate economic growth through cycling, engage the community in cycling culture and promote safe cycling. Bike Fest, which is supported by more than a dozen local sponsors, is set to become the group’s most significant fundraiser of the year.
Thursday, Sept. 6
• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ibis bike demos at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare
• Noon to 5 p.m. Colorado Bicycle Summit at Olympian Hall
• 4 to 6 p.m. Bike Fest registration (location TBA)
• 6 to 9 p.m. Festival kick off at Mountain Tap Brewery
Friday, Sept. 7
• Various times: Organized rides
• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ibis bike demos at Ski & Bike Kare
• 6 to 8 p.m. TrailGate BBQ at Howelsen Hill
Saturday, Sept. 8
• Various times: Organized rides
• 8 a.m. All levels charity ride at West Lincoln Park
• 3 to 8 p.m. Bike Fest celebration at Gondola Square
• 4 to 5 p.m. Whip-off competition on Bucking Bronc at Steamboat Resort
• 7:30 to 9 p.m. Bike-in movie at Gondola Square
Sunday, Sept. 9
• Various times Organized rides
“We’re really aiming for this event to bring together everyone from any category of the sport in celebration of bikes,” said Steamboat Bike Town Executive Director Amy Charity in a news release.
“We’re offering rides for all abilities and interests,” said David Wittlinger, a member of the Bike Town USA board. “There’s something for everyone.”
The first major event is a DRAFT meet-up Thursday at Mountain Tap Brewery, 910 Yampa St. Hosted by People For Bikes, DRAFT is a nationwide event series to create and enhance community among bike enthusiasts, to spark discussions about industry innovation and business and to get both big-picture ideas and beer flowing.
Friday’s schedule offers several organized bike rides throughout the day with one each hosted by Routt County Riders, MOOTS and The Steamboat Group.
“These are opportunities for people to do some pretty iconic rides at a casual, exploratory pace; it’s not a race,” Wittlinger said. “Relax, explore, enjoy the scenery. Get to know the folks who make and maintain the trails.”
That evening, a TrailGate BBQ takes place at Howelsen Beach featuring food, beer and giveaways, with 100 percent of door sales going to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, which supports trail and trailhead maintenance projects on public lands in Routt and Moffat counties.
Saturday morning offers a slew of rides. The STARS’ Biking the Boat charity ride includes 5-, 26- and 55-mile road ride options, and the MOOTS Ranch Rally gravel ride in North Routt is a 50-miler. The Stinger Lap with the Honey Stinger crew is a 25-mile ride along the Stinger Course XC mountain bike course and Steamboat Resort’s Bike Park Ride with the Steamboat Bike Park team is a downhill guided tour. Later that afternoon, Routt County Riders will host a cross-country mountain bike ride.
Festivarians can refuel at the Taco Beast and beer garden at Steamboat Resort’s Celebration BBQ in Gondola Square before heading over to the Whip-Off Competition at the jump mid-trail on Bucking Bronc. Spectators are encouraged to bring noisemakers and cheer on the riders. Rounding out the eventful day is a bike-in showing at Gondola Square of Red Bull’s “North of Nightfall,” in which free-ride mountain bikers head to the uninhabited Axel Heiberg Island in the Arctic.
On Sunday morning, several bike tours will be offered. They include: a 50-plus mile gravel adventure with Veloscapes; a cross-country mountain bike 40-mile loop with Bike Town Ambassadors; a 45.6-mile road ride on the Coal Mine Loop with The Steamboat Group and Smartwool; and a downhill electric bike tour at Steamboat Bike Park.
“E-biking is a new thing that not all of these other bike festivals (such as Crested Butte and Grand Junction) have started doing yet,” Wittlinger said. “We’re pretty excited that we’re including e-biking in our festival.”
Bookending the Bike Fest weekend are unaffiliated but complementary local bike events with Bicycle Colorado’s annual Bicycle Summit on Thursday — held outside Denver for the first time — and the NICA high school race series at Howelsen Hill on Sunday.
“They make this whole weekend even more of a festival atmosphere,” Wittlinger said.
Bike Fest organizers are hoping their new event becomes a tradition.
“We’re proud of the tremendous amount of new trails built in Steamboat,” Wittlinger said, “and we’re thrilled that this (festival) is taking place. The main goal for this is to become a premier event for Steamboat moving forward.”
A Bike Fest wristband allows the wearer open access to all organized rides, the DRAFT meet-up and TrailGate parties, the bike-in movie and free food and beer throughout the weekend. Wristbands are on sale for $100 at SteamboatBikeTown.com. The website also includes a full schedule of events.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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