Iconic Steamboat business embarks on Iconic ride
July 30, 2015
Steamboat Springs — For nearly a decade, a group of cyclists have gathered at Smartwool headquarters in Steamboat Springs to begin a journey they call the "Ride to O.R." This year's trek starts Friday, and I will have the honor of traveling alongside these riders who are banded together by their love for adventure.
It all started in 2006, when Mark Satkiewicz, president of Smartwool, brought together some of his outdoor industry chums with a simple plan to ride their bikes to the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah. The ride's original support was a lone Subaru with the driver following along, handing out water, energy bars and peanut butter sandwiches.
Satkiewicz and his posse chased the sun each day, covering more than 360 miles on a journey that eventually evolved into an annual tradition.
Before I started packing my bags for this year's ride, I had the chance to sit down with Joe Solomon, owner of Iconic Adventures, the Steamboat-based travel company that now helps orchestrate Smartwool's "Ride to O.R." I wanted to better understand what I should expect from the ride and the local company that specializes in custom-crafted group travel services.
Sometime in early 2010, Solomon left his coveted job with another well-known travel company to start something of his own. With no existing clients, Solomon reached out to Satkiewicz and his team at Smartwool and offered to help Smartwool turn its ride into something very special.
"The biggest challenge of this new venture turned out to be the parts of the job I didn't even know existed when I first launched Iconic," Solomon said. "I tend to run things on what I now call the swan theory."
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Solomon explained that his swan theory correlates to how beautiful and serene a swan appears above the surface of the water while its feet are churning underneath. Making sure things look easy and operate smoothly is what Iconic Adventures strives for when hosting events like the Smartwool ride.
"The first year we got involved, it started with a few support staff and a trailer to haul supplies," Solomon said. "Now, we have a fleet of 24-foot box trucks, a traveling chef, a yoga instructor, a bike mechanic and eight support staff."
As we talked in detail about this year's ride, it was clear Solomon values his relationship with Smartwool.
"This ride launched my company," Solomon said. "Mark has been an incredible partner to work with, and I owe him a large amount of gratitude for trusting me to care for him and his staff."
The 2015 junket will feature a wide range of riders, including Smartwool employees, athletes from the USSA Center of Excellence, sales reps from across the country, shop owners who carry Smartwool products and other industry kin.
"The idea is to bring together a group of people who are unified in the spirit of their profession," Solomon added. "This group will endure over 80 miles of pedaling a day, battling chip and seal, glass, heat and whatever else might happen along the way. But there's a contagious vibe of positivity that happens on this trip, and it's hard to explain."
Solomon said the ride has evolved over the years as an extension of Satkiewicz's vision. There's no denying that great leadership spawns great brands, and Smartwool sits as one of the leaders in the outdoor apparel world.
So as I continue to pare down my gear in anticipation of the ride, I can't help but get excited as I realize the next week of my life has the potential to alter the way I see the road ahead.
I invite you to join me on this journey by following the Steamboat Pilot & Today's Twitter (#SteamboatPilot), Facebook and Instagram (SteamboatPilot) accounts, where I'll be posting pictures and updates over the next five days.