John F. Russell: Shifting gears into spring | SteamboatToday.com

John F. Russell: Shifting gears into spring

Later today, a few hours after Tony Furtado plays a final tune in Gondola Square, it will hit home that another ski season in Steamboat Springs is in the books.

The snow has been melting for weeks, and it won’t be long before the last bit of white disappears from nearby mountain peaks. Even sooner, the valley floor will dry and give way to summer vegetation.

The sooner the soccer and baseball fields are playable, the better.

When I first moved to Steamboat, the weeks that followed the end of ski season were fondly referred to as “mud season,” but through the years, it’s become politically correct to call it the shoulder season. However, all it takes is a short walk off the beaten path to discover that although you can change the season’s name, mud always will be part of spring in the Yampa Valley.

Whatever you call it, the next few weeks will be a time of change for many people in Steamboat, who will trade in their skis for bikes and their snowshoes for tennis shoes.

I’ve always enjoyed spring in Steamboat, but by the time I find my bike, it’s usually time to pull the lawn mower out of the garage and fix those sprinkler heads that broke during winter.

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But apparently a lot of people in Steamboat don’t have yards or simply have more time to take care of them than I do. If you don’t believe me, just take a look around town. You will discover that people already are tooling around on road bikes and that the Yampa River Core Trail is packed with runners eager for the first running series event of the summer. It’s a comforting sight because it proves that the end of the ski season isn’t the end of Steamboat’s active lifestyle — it’s simply shifting gears.

Today will be a sad day for many residents who have spent most of the past four months on the slopes.

When the lifts shut down, some of them will not be ready to let go of the ski season. Those folks can escape their sorrows by driving to one of the few Colorado ski resorts that still are open. Or, like the rest of us, they can store their skis until next season and turn their attention to one of the many other activities that soon will be possible.

The Steamboat Springs Running Series will begin in May, and the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series is closer than you might expect. But those who love the valley know how important it is to wait until the trails dry out before they start riding.

Until then, the paved roads and dry country roads provide a great place to get the legs ready for this summer’s single track.

So this week, when the realization that the ski season has ended hits home, I’m sure many people in Steamboat will be sad. But it’s not going to take long to realize that another season already has begun.

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