New gravel ride headlines Tour de Steamboat registration |

New gravel ride headlines Tour de Steamboat registration

Tour de Steamboat cyclists enjoy the top of Rabbit Ears Pass during the 2018 event in Steamboat Springs. This year’s Tour de Steamboat will feature a gravel ride. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Registration for the 2019 Tour de Steamboat is now open, and riders will have even more to be excited about this year.

The ride, slated for Saturday, July 20, has added a 72- to 100-mile gravel race to the mix. The exact distance will be known after organizers receive the permit from the U.S. Forest Service, which is furloughed due the government shutdown.

“Gravel racing has become a really popular event for people to do,” Tour de Steamboat director Katie Eriksen said. “This is for people to enjoy the aid stations and the scenery. For a lot of people, it will be their first big gravel ride. It will be 70 percent gravel — a nice introduction to long-distance gravel riding.

“We did it as a move for industry demand,” Ericksen added. “Being in the bike industry, we’re seeing gravel riders are the biggest market in biking.”

How to Register

What: Tour de Steamboat bike ride
When: Saturday, July 20
Where: Routt County
Cost: $75 to $130

Eriksen said adding a gravel ride also diversifies participation. Within the first day of registration, Eriksen said there were 100 people signed up.

“I’ve had so many people contact us excited about it,” Eriksen said. “We’ve never had so many registered on the first day.”

Steamboat Springs is a prime destination for gravel cycling, where the roads are hardened almost as smooth as pavement and riders won’t deal with shale or heavy gravel. The tire on a gravel bike is wider and has a more relaxed geometry, making for a smoother ride.

In August, Steamboat will host its first-ever national gravel cycling race, and Eriksen believes the Tour de Steamboat is a good, noncompetitive warmup for that ride.

Gravel cycling also has a longer season, whereas mountain bikers have to wait until the end of June to ride.

“We’re trying to stay cutting edge,” Eriksen said, “and be proactive in meeting the demands of our customer and the interests of our rider. It keeps our demographic growing.”

Tour de Steamboat will no longer hold a raffle drawing for the custom Eriksen and Shimano bike. Instead, all registered riders are now automatically entered to win.

Last year, all four beneficiaries of the ride received $25,000 and an additional $5,000 to donate to another charity of their choice. Eriksen hopes the tradition will continue.

“We give them the gift of giving,” Eriksen said. “Here’s an extra $5,000 — you tell us where it’s going to go.”

Last year, the $5,000 donation went to Soroco Preschool for playground equipment, the town of Oak Creek for school-aged children programming and the Steamboat Springs Community Assistance Fund critical incident support service.

The ride’s four current beneficiaries are Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, Partners in Routt County, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide and Routt County Riders.

The Tour de Steamboat has also revamped its website, adding new pictures and more information about the ride.

“We want as much information about the ride and what to expect — like training tips, foods available at the aid station,” Eriksen said.

Organizers hope the ride will attract 1,200 cyclists this year, including 400 on the gravel roads.

From now until May 31, the early registration prices are as follows: $130 for the 116-mile Eriksen Gore Gruel; $115 for the 66-mile Glas Deffryn Ranch Yampa Loop; $105 for the 46-mile Oak Creek Loop; $75 for the 26-mile Sidney Peak Loop; and $130 for the Bingham Built Gravel Gruel.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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