Spring on Snow & Wheels
By Christina Freeman
A mellow ride fits nicely into Mike Walker's three-sport day. Photo courtesy Steve Dressen
Kayak, road bike, alpine ski; run, skate ski, snow bike... There are lots of ways to do a three-sport day, but two things stay the same: finishing the day is exhilarating, and spring in Steamboat is a great time to try it.
Mike Walker supervises the night janitor crew at the Steamboat Ski Area. Here’s his take on a spring day of skate skiing, road biking and alpine touring.
6 A.M. Wake up, drink some coffee or water and check temperatures. If conditions look good for skate skiing, call friends and head up to Rabbit Ears Pass.
7-8:30 A.M. Skate ski the crust on Rabbit Ears. Any of the meadows on the right side (mostly southern) are good. With the right conditions, you can skate the crust for miles, creating your own trail through forests and meadows. I aim for eight to 10 miles of skating, covering up to 1,000 vertical feet.
9 A.M. Back to town for a light breakfast, maybe a bagel or English muffin, then a short rest while temperatures warm up enough for the next leg: road biking. Don’t forget to stretch.
11 A.M. Once the temperatures climb to the 30s or 40s, you’re ready to hit the road. Dress warm and spin around the valley floor. Since it’s early season for biking, and I’m only on the second leg, I aim for 25 to 30 miles at a mellow pace. I like to head out to the Mesa Schoolhouse, aka the little red schoolhouse. Bring plenty of snacks. I enjoy croissants with Nutella, or sandwiches with brie and summer sausage – anything that packs in the calories and tastes good.
1 P.M. Return to town for a substantial lunch, like a big, healthy sandwich at the Drunken Onion or Colorado Bagel Company and Deli. Rest for a couple of hours and prepare for the last leg.
4:45 P.M. The mountain is closed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t turns to be had. Park at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, then skin up to the top of Thunderhead. Hang out until the sun is just starting to set, then ski down into the orange alpenglow. Enjoy the quiet and solitude of the mountain.
7 P.M. Return home for a hot shower and homemade dinner of pasta, chicken and salad. Post pics on Facebook, then hit the bed early.
► In Steamboat, all of the activities are right out your door, so three-sport days are possible.
► The aim of the triple-sport day is not to push any of the sports – you’re just going out to have fun, and you end up with a good workout at the end.
► Stay hydrated.
► Being in good shape is critical to having fun, especially on the third leg.
► Take lots of pictures.