Spring on Wheels
● By Christina Freeman
Racers in the USA Pro Challenge swarm a bend in County Road 14.
While Steamboat Springs
may be most commonly known as Ski Town USA, it's another sport stealing the
headlines of late. Biking; and we're talking everything from BMX to road
biking. Jaw dropping mountain passes, gentle rolling hills, countless miles of
single track and mixed terrain with little traffic and mega views have earned
Steamboat the title Bike Town USA.
Fat Bikes Picture a super-sized mountain bike with seriously treaded large wheels and big handlebars and you have the idea behind the latest craze to hit the Yampa Valley. Bikes essentially float over snow, allowing avid cyclists the ability to keep pedaling all year long. Howelsen Hill and Catamount Touring Center offer excellent terrain, with a daily use fee. Bikers are asked to remain cognizant of snow conditions, to avoid damaging trails.
Cruising Around Town The 7.5 mile, fully paved Yampa River Core Trail connects the mountain area to Steamboat's west end. An easy ride for all abilities, the trail follows the river past landmarks including Rotary Park, Fetcher Pond, Yampa River Botanic Park, Howelsen Hill Sports Complex, Downtown, Bud Werner Memorial Library, The Depot and the Community Center. Fully signed, the trail offers spots to stop for a picnic and seating to watch fisherman and kayakers play in the river.
Road Biking Mile after mile of undulating paved roads surrounded by spectacular vistas make the perfect setting for exploring on wheels. Local favorite rides can be anything from a quick lunch-hour spin or a daylong venture with friends. Starting in town, riders have a plethora of roads to travel. Routt County Road 14, or River Road, follows the Yampa River from town south through picturesque ranching country. A tougher ride awaits on Twenty Mile Road, where hills prevail but views keep you pedaling. Elk River Road (Routt County Road 129) initially meanders alongside the Elk River before opening to vast, scenic, ranching countryside. A narrow ride in places with an elevation gain of over 3,500 ft, this local favorite is made even more worthwhile by stopping at North Routt's historic Clark Store for its famous ice cream.
Mountain Biking The best in-town rides can be found on Emerald Mountain, with an extensive network of Forest Service trails dotting the surrounding Routt National Forest. The first single tracks to open after the snow melts are Hot Springs Trail and Mad Creek Trail, both trailheads are accessed from Elk River Road (Routt County Road 129).
Pump It Find air, practice jumps, test your balance or skid your way around the 950-foot BMX track at the bottom of Howelsen Hill, Ski Time Square's pump track or Bear River Bike Park at the west end of the Yampa River Core Trail.
Bike Week Steamboat's official kickoff to bike season. Clinics, races and rides are offered for all abilities. Fun events run throughout the week with live music and entertainment. Monday-Saturday, June 8-14.
USA Pro Challenge The fifth annual nine-city-stop race brings top cyclists from all over the world to the starting line in Steamboat. Festivities begin Saturday, Aug. 14, with a circuit race Monday, Aug. 17, and the start of Steamboat to Arapahoe Basin stage on Tuesday, Aug. 18.