Roubaix, Ranch Rally start Steamboat’s gravel race season, focus on minimizing impact on town |

Roubaix, Ranch Rally start Steamboat’s gravel race season, focus on minimizing impact on town

Former NBA player Reggie Miller to ride in two races this summer

The Steamboat Roubaix debuted in 2021 and will kick off the 2022 race season on Sunday, May 15.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

If gravel riding was a religion, Steamboat Springs could be the mecca.

There are hundreds of miles of dirt roads in Routt County, and about a half dozen rides and races this summer will introduce those roads to casual and elite riders.

Steamboat Roubaix kicks off the summer race schedule with the Hell of the High Rockies on May 15. The pro-am race put on by Steamboat Velo is in its second year. It has three distances and features a combination of paved and gravel roads, challenging riders in both the preparation and execution phases.

“The weather is the variable that makes it fun,” said Steamboat Velo organizer and race director Corey Piscopo. “It could be really nice. It could be a bit wet and windy. That’s what defines this race. It’s spring in the mountains.”

The race is 40% gravel and begins at the Howelsen Rodeo Grounds, taking riders south of town before dipping behind Emerald Mountain and finishing near Lithia Spring outside of downtown. The event intentionally starts and finishes at locations that avoid downtown, having minimal impact on high traffic areas. Piscopo said Steamboat Velo keeps the race small to limit impact and make the event less intimidating.

“A big theme for Steamboat right now is event mitigation,” he said. “I think just as a local and an event promoter, we need to be realistic about what’s feasible and what’s a reasonable impact.”

Piscopo said he has entertained thoughts of what bike races could look like if more event directors prioritized minimizing the impact or if Steamboat had a designated start and finish area.

“It’d be cool if the city and bike event promoters could find some sort of uniform set up area where all bike races start and finish,” he said. “Every race is totally different in how they configure it. That’s just long-term thoughts on how we can make these things go smoother and be more consistent for locals.”

Steamboat’s gravel schedule

May 15 – Steamboat Roubaix

May 16-22 – Steamboat Gravel Festival

May 21 – Glas Deffyn Ranch Junior MTB XC

June 11 – Moots Ranch Rally

July 16 – Tour de Steamboat – Bingham Built Gravel Gruel

Aug. 14 – SBT GRVL

Check out the Explore Steamboat 2022 Trail Guide for more information on local races and routes for hiking and biking.

Less than a month after the Roubaix, Moots is on June 11 bringing back the Ranch Rally for the first time since 2019. The all-gravel race has always kept in mind the size of the field and impact on the town, which is essentially zero. The routes — yes, there are two this year — are 54 and 76 miles long and take riders north and west of town.

Since its inception in 2014, the Ranch Rally has served as a bridge between the cycling and agriculture communities.

“We understand that they use all these dirt and gravel roads for moving livestock and equipment, and we wanted to raise awareness to our bike riders that come from all around about how to interact with the ranch community,” said Jon Cariveau, marketing, social media and brand spokesperson for Moots. “Something that’s really near and dear to our hearts is the local production of everything, from meats to vegetables that happen right here in the valley.”

Furthering that cause, the Ranch Rally raises money for the Community Agriculture Alliance and has generated upwards of $25,000 over six races.

This year, the goal is to raise $5,000 for the alliance and $5,000 for cycling clubs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a cause championed by former NBA player Reggie Miller.

Miller is making the trip to Steamboat for the Ranch Rally. He’s also announced on Instagram he’s returning for SBT GRVL on Aug. 14.

Miller, being a tall individual, requires custom bikes, a few of which he’s gotten from Moots, which celebrated 40 years of building bikes last year.

“Our relationship has really kind of blossomed,” Cariveau said of Miller and Moots. “He’s an amazing human and his cause is bringing awareness to diversity in cycling. … There’s starting to be more women, and that is awesome, and that is going well. However, Reggie’s movement in particular is with the HBCUs and those colleges that have clubs that are very underfunded.”

The Moots Ranch Rally has grown slightly to 300 open spots, but the pace is still casual and riders of all competitive natures are welcome.

“Ours is definitely not nearly as big as the scale as SBT GRVL,” Cariveau said. “But it fits in nicely with the community. Our goal is to have very little impact on traffic.”

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