Steamboat plans to earn its title of “Bike Town USA” by investing millions into developing new trails.
While Steamboat has long been known as “Ski Town USA,” it was only a few years ago that a massive collaborative effort was made to also stake its claim as “Bike Town USA.”
This initiative to establish Steamboat as a premier cycling destination was achieved in 2013 with a vote that dedicated $5.1 million raised through lodging tax legislation to develop Steamboat’s bike trails over the next 10 years. Since then, many public and private groups have joined forces to help expand and further develop a large trail system accessible from the center of town with almost 50 miles of interconnected trails.
While Steamboat has everything from road biking and paved trails for cruising, it’s best known for mountain biking. There’s a reason people are so passionate about mountain biking in Steamboat: the Yampa Valley provides the perfect terrain with gentle rolling hills, vast Aspen groves and lush forests not to mention gondola-accessed downhill terrain, including a hair-raising terrain park on Steamboat Mountain Resort. With everything from miles of smooth singletrack on Emerald and the white-knuckle technical descents on Fish Creek to the gentle rolling terrain through the Aspen groves on Buffalo Pass, there’s something for everyone.
We caught up with The Porches in-house concierge and Bike Town USA ambassador Sara Gorevan to get the lowdown on new trails, the latest trends in bike equipment, and what it means to don the yellow jersey.
What’s the latest with Steamboat’s “Bike Town USA” initiative?
The biggest thing happening right now is the increased terrain on Buffalo Pass. There was a ribbon cutting just a couple of weekends ago for a brand-new trail called “Panorama.” It’s a 1-mile scenic loop at Dry Lake Campground. It’s very beginner friendly and a perfect introduction to mountain biking for someone who is going out riding for the first time.
That’s not the only new trail on Buffalo Pass, right?
Until recently, biking up on Buffalo Pass has been a bootleg playground; people built their own bike trails in places where it wasn’t necessarily allowed. After the trail building fund was passed in 2013, the Forest Service took the approach of, ‘if you can’t beat em, join em’. There’s been a trail building boom in Steamboat and this year Buffalo Pass is the most recent beneficiary. They’re working on developing over 40 miles of trails up there to incorporate and improve where the pirate trails used to be. The main new attraction on Buffalo Pass is “Flash of gold,” it’s about 5 miles long, multi direction, intermediate rating.
Tell us about your role as an ambassador?
I am an official ambassador for Bike Town USA. I volunteer a handful of days to get out and ride and wear a yellow jersey that says, “Ask me, I’m local” on the front. The intention is to be a moving signboard, to help answer questions anyone might have, and to help people on the trail. I carry trail maps to give out and do whatever I can to help people make sure their rides go smoothly. It’s the same concept as being a ski ambassador.
What’s the latest development in mountain biking equipment?
The biggest change over the last several years has been about wheel size. For a long time, mountain bikes were built with 26-inch wheels. Then a few years ago, everyone started riding 29-inch wheels which made it easier to rollover difficult terrain and to climb. But it wasn’t ideal for everyone, especially shorter women like me! Then they came up with a happy medium, 27.5” wheels and that’s kind of the standard now. Trails are built more for that smaller wheel geometry in terms of being able to navigate switchbacks and tight turns. A bigger wheel requires a longer frame, so while it was good for some things it made other aspects of riding harder.
Where do you send guests and owners that want to rent a bike?
It really depends on what brand of bike you want to try. Ski Haus carries Specialized, Santa Cruz and Rocky Mountain. Ski and Bike Kare has Scott. If you have no idea which you prefer, stop by the concierge desk and I’ll help you out. I also have coupons for a discount on rentals.
What about gondola accessed mountain biking at the ski area?
On the mountain, they’re offering downhill lessons and rentals for children and adults who are interested in trying downhill biking out and they don’t want to have to bike up the mountain. There are a lot of options for mountain biking at the ski area for both uphill and downhill riders. I have a plethora of maps and guides and can recommend routes for any level of rider. We like to offer one stop shopping here at The Porches Concierge!
Check out this clip of Biking in Steamboat: