Spoke Talk: Season of change | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: Season of change

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This morning, the alarm went off early. I brewed coffee and took the steaming mug with me for a few tentative steps outside the front door. The dawn air has a bite this time of year — change is coming.

I mostly love fall and enjoy the seasonal shift. I’m a child of winter, so the dropping mercury is something I tend to welcome. This year, however, I have the overwhelming sensation of things grinding to a halt — the screech of dusty disc brakes punctuated by the stuttering rub of tires on rock.

It’s only been a few months since I took over as executive director of Routt County Riders. When I stepped into the role, the summer season was already in full swing, dirt flying on new trail projects, maps and jerseys going out to bike shops, plans in place for road races and bike safety classes.

Routt County Riders has undergone quite the evolution over the past decades. In speaking with folks who were around for its conceiving years, it started as low-key meetups over Chinese food where people got together to talk bikes. The main objective was to have fun and to promote cycling between community members who loved it in all its forms.

Colorado, and certainly Steamboat Springs, has since experienced a massive period of growth where the infrastructure in place feels less than adequate to cope with the influx of humans. The number of spandex-clad riders pouring out onto county highway corridors in the name of a workout has put a strained pressure on the relationship between the road bikers and the ranchers and commuters who struggle to pass them en route to work.

This dynamic is similarly tough when considering the rise in popularity of mountain biking. Unless you’ve been living under a rock up Fish Creek Canyon, you can’t possibly have missed the impassioned debate this year between those in favor of expanded mountain bike trails and those who would rather keep our forests wheel-free.

There is no shortage of passion in this community, that much we can say without qualification. People love this valley and have vastly different opinions about how we should pave its future path. There are families who have been here for decades whose voice matters. There are also transplants to town who are familiar with managed recreation and the responsible promotion of tourism in booming western locales such as this.

This upcoming season of change will be an important one for Routt County Riders as we look to our future and decide how we can improve our local engagement, increase impact and invest more time and energy creating a united cycling community. 

Please reach out to me at laraine@routtcountyriders.org if you’d ever like to grab a coffee, or a quick midday ride here in town, and talk about what cycling advocacy means to you — or what it should mean to us.

Routt County Riders also has upcoming events to finish out our fall season, visit routtcountyriders.org/events to join in. We have highway roadside cleanup days, bicycle-friendly driver courses, our final volunteer trail work day of the season and a cycling mini film fest at Chief Theater. We’d love to have you alongside us.

And I’ll finish by quoting our illustrious Board President Kyle Pietras, “Can we go ride bikes now?!” 

Laraine Martin is the executive director of Routt County Riders.

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