Spoke Talk: A short volunteer history of Tour de Steamboat
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday, July 20 marks the 16th…. 17th…. or maybe 18th year of the nonprofit Tour de Steamboat. We would like to say it more precisely, but truth be told, we are not really sure.
The event started in 1985, when Kent Eriksen organized a group of locals to go out and race the Oak Creek Loop, no swag, no aid stations, no finish line barbecue. Just a group of people out enjoying a day on their bikes. The current event sees over 1,200 riders, 250 volunteers and five different routes, including the new Gravel Gruel course.
We have riders on E-bikes, tandems, recumbents, hand bikes and boring, old, titanium road bikes built by our very own Brad and Kent at Eriksen Cycles and Bingham Built. The highlight of the day is watching our diverse riders on their assorted equipment come in with that sense of accomplishment, no matter which course they rode. Shut up, legs.
As Co-Event Directors Katie Eriksen and I happily look forward to aid station loading day. We load 100 watermelons, 15 boxes of bananas, 207 Fritos, 5,000 Oreos and countless other goodies into boxes heading out to the seven on-course aid stations. The muscles built balance out the calories consumed when needing to try one of everything.
Our amazing volunteers are kitted out with specially designed shirts, lunch, rider swag and all the M&Ms they can devour in one day. Our youngest volunteer this year will be Maura’s 1-year old and the oldest volunteer —well, who can say?
We have had Caroline and Timmy grow up as volunteers at Sidney Peak —they’re now running the station whilst mum rides the event. Lee at Kremmling Aid has decided this is her year to ride, so she has handed over the reins to long-time volunteers Clint, Nina and Beverley. The Alders drive in from Yampa on Friday to pick up their aid station, then organize their crew for the over 800 tired riders they see.
And let’s not forget about the party crew making peanut butter, banana and jelly sandwiches at Gore Pass for the 116 and Gravel Gruel riders. Some people even volunteer for more than one shift, and there are others who ride and volunteer. Kind hearted or crazy?
Along with our volunteer board of directors, we have people from Denver, Grand Junction and countless Routt County locals helping us throughout the week. From the patient water jug filler, to the returning registration crew, to the cheering course marshals, to the beautiful souls that come in at 5:30 a.m. to lift heavy things — we say “thank you.” We couldn’t do it without your help because this is a community-run Routt County event.
So, if you find yourself with a few hours on Saturday, July 20, come join the volunteer fun at the Tour de Steamboat. For additional information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or listen to my Australian accent at 970-819-0781.
Abi Slingsby is co-director of Tour de Steamboat.
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