Posts tagged ‘Steamboat Springs’
The month of March feels kind of like a vinyl record with a scratch in it; there is still a lot of music, but there are skips, repeats, and the tracks don’t always play as they should. For now, I am starting at the present, and moving backwards – in pieces.
Our son Mason came home from school for a brief weekend visit, as we had missed him over his Spring Break. We got to catch up, get back on our bikes after too many days absence, and do a little leisurely riding in the incredibly balmy temps that have been setting records across the country. Mason had spent his break with a team of students from his university; they travelled to the islands of Trinidad & Tobago to work on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village project – mixing concrete, shoveling sand and helping lay the foundation for a family’s new home. There was a cement workers’ strike on the islands, so they really had their work cut out for themselves – mixing everything by hand with shovels and a lot of muscle.
He had some wonderful stories (best listened to while we were out on our bikes), made some new friends, got some running in (lol), and I loved that he took some time from his busy schedule to do some giving back. (Photos from my son’s camera).
foot race challenge
Habitat for Humanity Global Village, Trinidad & Tobago … the cement mixing
While Mason was off getting dirty and building houses, the rest of us headed to the mountains for our annual week of skiing in Colorado. It was a well-needed break for all of us. The snow was wonderful, the skiing fantastic, and like in years past, it was hard to come back home – I always tend to leave a part of myself in the snow and mountains, and someday may be staying for good. My plan is to post a gallery of snow-mountain-ski pics of this place I love, my second home, later this week. But for now I’m just including a few of the bike-y ones (and a snowy one … because it’s been so warm everywhere else).
I love the active mountain culture in Steamboat, and especially that they are so bicycle friendly – they are an LAB Gold Level community. Skiers on bikes, bikes loaded with everything from groceries to snowboards to dogs and kids. Weather, altitude, snow-covered roads are never a deterrent. One of these days my dream is to have a little house along the Yampa River, riding on the Core Trail into town for breakfast or lunch, and loading my skis on my Xtracycle for a trip to the slopes. Oh, perfect life.
And then there was all of the tornado and Red Cross stuff that I had left off with. Sigh. I am relieved to report that the damage was not as massive in scope as last April – which is still little consolation to the people who have lost their homes – and we are all grateful that no lives were lost. Our local Red Cross chapter joined with folks from Chattanooga and Knoxville, and the relief efforts went very well, as you can read in detail here. (Photo credit for these two shots from my volunteer friend, Sandy; my camera stayed at home).
But very sadly, in the midst of all of the disaster response, our chapter suffered another major blow; due to continuing reorganization and personell changes, we now no longer have a Disaster Services Director in our chapter. My friend, mentor, and “boss”, Michele – a 10 year Red Cross veteran – is no longer with the organization. This change in addition to the other personell cuts made earlier in the month, I can’t help but think that the writing is on the wall, so to speak. It appears our small local chapter has effectively been dismantled at this point, and I am greatly saddened … I honestly don’t know what my own volunteer future will be.
Most frustrating, no one from the upper echelons seems to be providing any communication/direction to the volunteer base. It reminds me of sitting in an airplane on a runway with no pilot … are they going to cancel our flight? Are they going to send another pilot? Or do they just expect one of the passengers to take the controls? Like I said, it’s just incredibly frustrating – which made my decision to leave for some skiing during Spring Break a little easier.
I am back to my bike, my silly routine. I am sorry to have not been able to finish the Utilitaire games, but I take my hat off to The Old Guy and my other friends who finished successfully – I applaud you all. And I thank MG for the dreaming up the whole idea, for I had great fun participating for the weeks that I was able to – which, for me, is what it was all about anyway. It made me re-think variety in destination riding, and I look forward to incorporating the goals into my riding routine.
Hopefully the remainder of March will be a little more normal, a little less interrupted, no big scratches. We’ll see.
To the people who have known me best over the course of my life, they know with little doubt where my first love lies – on the snow, on skis, in the mountains. As much as I am passionate about cycling, and as much as it has become such a big part of my life, there is nothing I love more than being on skis on a cold sunny day on top of a big mountain. Nothing. Period. (Apologies to my beloved bicycles.)
A little background … my father decided put me on skis when I was a pre-schooler, and I still have fond memories of first lessons in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico before I was even able to read. My dad became a National Ski Patrolman in the midwest where I grew up, which enabled us to ski virtually every day during winter. I grew up racing and eventually became a ski instructor. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to ski in the summer for several years, when I shipped off to summer race-training camps on the high mountain glaciers each June.
Skiing was a huge part of my life, of my family’s life … and despite ending up living in the snowless Southeast and raising my own family, the passion continues with my own boys, who have become incredible skiers in their own right – learning to ski in North Carolina, and skiing each year in the Rockies. They have become skilled enough to ski everything on the mountain – from the trees to the double-black diamond chutes.
So what does any of this have to do with biking? Well for me, it appears that this crazy obsession/diversion of the trip to the mountains has managed to derail #330daysofbiking. Since I managed not to get in a single day of cycling while out West, it appears I will be two days short of meeting my goal by April 1. Rats. But I just couldn’t help myself – the lure of the snow and the mountains was just too irresistible to do anything other than ski. It’s my only excuse.
Despite this “failure” – and it is disappointing, because I was so close – I think it was good to have the interruption for sake of perspective. Maybe it was good to get off the bike for a few days and revisit another passion with the people I love.
Someday I hope that we will be living in a place where I can set another (silly) goal – one that would look something like #100daysofskiing-and-#300daysofbiking. Load the ski equipment onto the Xtracycle and pedal to the mountain for a day on the slopes. (Although I might have to add in a #30daysofcupcakes and #100daysofknitting just to round things out 😉 ).
For now, I have a renewed enthusiasm to be on my bike again, and the quest continues to finish #330daysofbiking one way or another. Since I can only blame my weakness for snow for the lack of cycling in recent days, I’m leaving a few last pictures from the mountains. Sigh.
Had annual wonderful week’s vacation in Steamboat Springs, CO, last week. It tends to be the week that “gets me through” the rest of the year. I love the snow, the mountains, the skiing … the whole atmosphere and “vibe” of town.
I guess my love affair with Steamboat stems from my history with the place. Back when I was probably 9 or 10 years old, our family would head to Steamboat in the summer to visit friends who owned a fantastic cabin in Route National Forrest. I remember sleeping in the cabin loft with my sister and my friends, Karen and Kirsten – shrieking at the bats that would fly about the eaves on summer evenings. Also memories of my “Aunt Pat” waking us up every morning to the sound of the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun. Hiking up to mountain lakes for some trout fishing, horseback riding, the July 4th rodeo, visiting F.M. Light’s in town … all part of those wonderful memories of the “cowboy” mountain town of Steamboat Springs.
My parents began taking us on winter ski vacations in Steamboat back in the 1970’s – after skiing at various places throughout the west, from CO to NM. I loved staying on the mountain at the Scandinavian Lodge, skiing right out our door onto the slopes. Although we had skied at many Colorado resorts – Aspen, Vail, Winter Park… – Steamboat somehow became our favorite place, and the place we kept returning to. Famous for their high altitude “Champagne Powder” along with maintaining their small-town atmosphere, it always seemed to be more laid-back and genuine than the developing glitz of places like Aspen.
Mark and I began taking our own boys to the mountain about 6 years ago. Despite the fact that the boys don’t have the opportunity to ski as often as I did when I was younger, they’ve become very skilled and competent skiers – able to tackle every black diamond run on the mountain, along with a few of the double-black diamond chutes. We’ve made a lot of wonderful memories skiing together, playing in the powder, finding our favorite outfitters and eateries in town. As Mark recently commented, I think we both wish that we’d started the tradition years earlier. And although we’ve seen the town changing, and some aspects have become rather uber-wealthy resort-ish, the town still manages to maintain a sense of charm that other resort areas are missing … at least in my opinion.
Although skiing remains at the top of my list of reasons to visit Steamboat, I have always been impressed by the great bike culture around town – whether summer or winter. We’ve seen a great Xtracycle conversion with a PVC tube used for hauling skis, lots of committed cyclists riding through the worst of weather and road conditions, lots of people going about their daily routine in town – by bicycle. One of my favorite sights in town one day this year, was this dad with his mini-pedalers and the family dog, riding down the main street. Sweet! 😀
Upon getting back home, the current issue of LAB’s (League of American Bicyclists) 2010 Bicycle Friendly America was in the mailbox. I was happy to read that Steamboat had achieved Silver status as a Bicycle Friendly City (I believe they moved up from Bronze within this past year?). According to the article:
The community boasts a 4 percent bicycling mode share; an ever growing network of on-road and off-road bicycling facilities – including 266 miles of natural-surface trails … The Open Space and Trails Master Plan includes over 25 miles of new bicycle routes and lanes to the city. More cyclists than ever are commuting and using their bicycles for errands around town. The local political bodies responded by ramping-up their support for bicycling in the form of budget allocations and Community Development Code provisions for bicycle facilities and transportation systems, instead of thinking of it as a marginal or luxury issue for a special sub-group.
Last year we rented some bicycles and rode along the Yampa River bike path … a beautiful multi-use path that links several communities and provides a great way to get to and from the heart of downtown. We’ve seen more and more people hauling skis by bike up to the base area of the mountain, as well bikes parked outside the grocery stores and restaurants around town. It’s inspiring – and often amazing, given the weather and road conditions we’ve seen some of them out riding in. Hat’s off!
So … vacation is over, and spring is well on its way. Although the sight of blooming daffodils is lovely, I somehow still would rather see sparkling snow on a sunny mountain. Just me. 😉