Spoke Talk: The Routt less traveled | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: The Routt less traveled

Rich Tucciareone/For Steamboat Today

I'm guilty. Start at stables, Bluffs, Ricky's, Lupine, Larry's, MGM, Blair Witch, Quarry Mountain and down. I bet many others are guilty too — after all, I see many of you doing the same thing.

Whatever the route, as summer progresses, we tend to get into our respective riding grooves, often weaving our beloved MTB needle between our other (gasp) obligations — work, families, parenting, volunteering, travel, etc. We know exactly how long each respective route will take us to go up and come down in time to make that meeting, pick up a child or join non-riding friends for a beer.

This summer is different. I've challenged myself to mix it up — ride a different route, ride a different direction on the same route, ride at different times of the day or night, whatever. Just mix it up. So far this has proven exceptionally reinvigorating. I'm seeing trails from different perspectives, depending upon the direction I'm riding them, the time of day or the order in which I string them together. And I'm seeing fewer people, which makes the downhill all the more fluid and fun (except that one time I made the mistake of riding Morning Gloria down on an early weekend morning).

Perhaps more important than just mixing things up, I hope I do my part to reduce the wear and tear on our beloved, heavily used trails — Emerald in particular. This became apparent to me late last summer and earlier this summer when I noticed how certain sections of single track have widened to nearly double track over the past few years; how other sections have become worn, rutted or "vee'd" from excessive use, skidding and/ or riding when muddy; and how other super fun, but somewhat neglected, less-travelled routes have become weedy and overgrown.

We are so fortunate to have the abundance of great trail riding in and around Steamboat, however, as natural creatures of habit, many of us tend to gravitate toward our "regular routes" that we thread between our daily obligations. With that in mind, and plenty of riding days ahead, I plan to continue my challenge and am encouraging friends to mix it up this summer too … especially on our nearly loved-to-death Emerald. I've also pledged to trek more often to North Routt and explore some of those great trails — with practically no riders — less than an hour's drive from downtown. In fact, we just rode there last weekend.

I also urge those who ride regularly and haven't yet participated to enlist in a trail work day. It is fun and a great way to give back to the mountains that give us so much enjoyment to see the trails from a different perspective and maybe meet a few new mountain bikers. And after the work, trail crews are rewarded with a delicious lunch and refreshing beverages. For information on upcoming trail workdays or to sign up, visit routtcountyriders.org/volunteer.

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Rich Tucciarone is a Routt County Riders member and volunteer.