Check out the latest RCR newsletter HERE. Thanks for reading!
Calling ALL recreationists! The Steamboat Springs Trail Alliance is requesting your participation in an open, respectful discussion of the future of trails in our community.
Throughout the ongoing Mad Rabbit NEPA process, there are a number of differing opinions on which trails should or should not be approved. We would like to have as many different user groups as possible join our conversation– hikers, runners, cyclists, bird-watchers, wildlife specialists, hunters, equestrians, moto/ATV/OHV users, backpackers, snowmobilers, conservationists… you name it!
The best way to help make community decisions is to have the entire community involved. We will not all agree on everything–it might only be a few things–but let’s cultivate our common ground. Nearly all of us represent multiple user groups and should understand that we have to share our backyards.
Hosted by Routt County Riders, refreshments provided. Invite other users you know.
These meetings will be held the third Monday of every month, unless otherwise noted. Please subscribe to our calendar for meeting times and updates.
Thank you for caring about our trails!
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs cycling advocacy group that started to form in the early 1990s has ripped off the training wheels and graduated to a nonprofit organization with a full-time employee.
Kelly Northcutt was raised in Steamboat Springs, and it is her goal as the first Routt County Riders executive director to continue strengthening the important relationships the organization has built over the years.
“I’m hoping to just have a bigger presence in the community,” Northcutt said.
Northcutt returned to Steamboat a year and half ago after spending a decade in the Pacific Northwest, where she commuted 100 miles each week for six years.
“That opened up my eyes to the commuter world,” Northcutt said.
She has a master’s degree in environmental management from Portland State University, where her thesis project focused on the development of off-road cycling facilities.
Routt County Riders is overseen by nine board members who can only volunteer so much of their time, board member Matt Roberts said.
He said it was time the organization had someone whose sole purpose was representing members and “getting things done.”
“It’s definitely helpful to have that one point person who can run the organization,” Roberts said.
He said Northcutt was a perfect fit for the organization.
“She’s super sharp,” Roberts said. “Really smart.”
Eric Meyer, a former longtime board member and past Routt County Riders president, said the organization has previously had part-time staff members, and hiring someone full time was the right move.
“There is endless amounts of work for any organization like that, and board members can only do so much,” Meyer said.
He thinks having someone full-time will help the organization grow and focus on its long-term goals.
Before hiring an executive director, Roberts said the board spent a lot of time going over the organization’s financials, and they met with other successful nonprofit groups to help set expectations for the new position.
Having someone at the helm of Routt County Riders will be even more important as Steamboat continues work to become a more cycling-friendly community.
Steamboat is in the midst of a trail building boom funded by proceeds from a voter-approved 1 percent lodging tax that will generate more than $5 million for trails.
“That speaks to what the community wants,” Northcutt said.
The trail projects are ongoing, and Northcutt finds herself in the midst of the next phase called the Mad Rabbit Trails encompassing Mad Creek, Rocky Peak and Rabbit Ears Pass.
Many of the trail projects are on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and Northcutt will be navigating the bureaucracy to ensure Routt County Riders has a voice when decisions are being made.
An environmental impact study is currently being conducted for the Mad Rabbit Trails project
In her new role, Northcutt has studied the impacts the project will have on a variety of things like erosion, water quality and even seemingly mundane wildlife such as boreal toads.
“I do consider that part of my job right now,” Northcutt said.
Among her other goals at Routt County Riders is reinvigorating volunteer efforts, building relationships with the agriculture community and ensuring Steamboat’s evolving trail system has something for everybody.
“I just think we need it all,” Northcutt said. “Beginner and extreme trails.”
Original Link: https://www.steamboattoday.com/news/routt-county-riders-hires-first-executive-director/
I love my mountain bike. It gets me into the woods in the most dynamic way, with silence, speed and fun. It carries me over rocks, roots, jumps and gets me pitted in banked turns with thrilling G-forces.
Yet it’s the trails that show me how awesome my bike really is. Trails that are designed and built for bikes, or at least with bikes in mind, provide a rollercoaster like thrill while flowing through the forest in a quiet and sustainable manner.
There was a time when all we could ride were fire roads, animal trails and old hiking trails designed to go from A to B. There was a lot of bushwhacking, hike-a-biking, and blood. Our bikes had no suspension, our handlebars were narrow and our stems were long making “Over The Bars” a regular experience. We wore tennis or hiking shoes with toe clips, no pads, and our helmets more resembled Styrofoam cups than bike helmets of today. We thought our 1.75 tires were fat and we had these dangerous brush hooks on our handlebars we called “bar ends”. That was before we realized that, like a motocross rider, our bars should be wider than our shoulders.
Welcome now to this fresh brave world where mountain bikers are pioneering new styles of trail designed for fun and sustainability. The huge majority of public trail maintenance and new trail construction in the US is being done by mountain bikers. It can be argued that mountain bikers are creating the most sustainable trails ever seen in the forest and are the least intrusive of the human forest users. Nonetheless, we are the newcomers to forest recreation and are held to a higher standard than others. And that’s OK, we can (and do) set the bar to higher standards of sustainability.
Here in Routt County the riders have been working closely with the USFS for years to develop new legal trails for all users. The local forest service department has been cooperating with RCR to keep existing trails open and develop new ones. Recognizing that there was a clear need for more progressive trails for advanced riders, the unauthorized trails on Buff Pass were left open for over ten years after USFS discovered them. We should be thankful that our local USFS took a route similar to the approach taken on Teton Pass, as opposed to other areas like Sedona where there is more disagreement than cohesion between local riders, builders and the USFS.
Those unauthorized trails were originally created by animals, hikers and equestrians, then many years later when our bikes got super rad, the trails needed to match, so riders enhanced trails making them more fun and sustainable at the same time. Although riding these unauthorized trails is legal, building them is not. We have been benefitting from the USFS’ wait and see stance for many years.
In cooperation with the USFS, RCR is now constructing miles of new, legal trails for users of all abilities, and the building of unauthorized trails on public land is threatening the future of legal trail construction in the valley.
Less than two months ago the first advanced trails of the Trails Alliance proposal were opened. These are not entirely new trails but adoption of old unauthorized trails with major reroutes, avoiding unsustainable sections of trail and adding fun, flow and features that make the trails even more bike friendly. The USFS is now allowing progressive trails and features for advanced riders, and this is just the beginning. With local support we will get bigger, better and more of the advanced trails most riders are seeking and are so sparse in our local trail system.
There are many people to thank for the trail system we have now, including the illegal builders and the USFS. However it is now time for the illegal building to stop. The USFS needs cooperation from the riding community to halt the illegal building of unauthorized trails in order for them to continue to endorse the construction of new, legal, progressive trails. RCR is a local non-profit organization that will accept (almost) anyone’s input and help in any part of the process. Want to help design the next trail? We welcome your input. Want to build and learn the craft of sustainable trail construction? Come join us, we welcome your assistance. With RCR you have unlimited access, your voice and passion will be heard and embraced.
Aryeh Copa is President of Routt County Riders Trail Builders
Routt County Riders is hosting a Steamboat Springs Trail Alliance Meeting on Monday, August 14, 2017.
We will provide trail updates, address any trail concerns or comments, and provide information on ways to get involved with your local trail projects and volunteering opportunities. These meetings are a great way to know the status of projects and future plans. We encourage all trail users to attend! Beer will be provided.
The meeting will be held at the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps headquarters building (991 Captain Jack Drive) from 5:30-7pm. The board room is through the front double doors, see you there!
Trail Etiquette 101
As we roll our way into the height of summer, now is a good time to remember our trail manners. It can be frustrating when you expect your ride to be a certain way, and then an interaction with another trail user turns your day sour. Somebody once said, “You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.” When others lack trail etiquette, use the interaction to respectfully educate them through words or by example.
To refresh you, here are the International Mountain Bike Association’s (IMBA) rules of the trail:
- Ride Open Trails
Respect trail closures due to conditions, wildlife, special events and more. This may require you to use your best judgment. There may not be a “closed” sign immediately after a rainstorm, so if your eyeballs indicate to you that there is mud on the trails, please stay off of them.
- Leave No Trace
Do not cut switchbacks, do not use closed trails, do not ride around standing water on the trail. When yielding, please keep your tire tread on the trail and let the other user pass. When you pull off the trail, you are damaging plants and habitat. Always pick up litter.
- Control Your Bicycle
Ride within your limits. Know the conditions. Saturday afternoon on Emerald might not be the best time to work on a Strava record. Many social conflicts often occur when riders are going too fast. Save the “sending” for directional, bike-specific trails.
- Yield Appropriately
Give people a head’s up–this can be a friendly greeting or a bell. But remember that these notifications are not a hall pass to fly by them. If the person does not hear you, please be courteous. [Quick fact: headphones keep you from hearing other people]. Mountain bikers yield to all other trail users, and downhill riders always yield to uphill users.
- Never Scare Animals
Give horses room and time to see you. It is best to stop and dismount from your bike. Always ask the rider what is best for their horse. If you encounter wildlife, please give them space. It can be a serious offense to disturb wildlife. Please contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife for information on how to co-recreate with elk, bear, mountain lions, moose and Sasquatch.
- Plan Ahead
Have a map, a plan and be a self-sufficient rider. Be prepared for bee stings, going over the bars, snakebites (both real and in regards to your tube), an afternoon downpour, your bonking buddy, losing track of daylight and any other potential ride chaos.
Whether you are a local or a visitor, please do your best to remember that everyone on the trail is trying to have a good time, just like you. If someone is not following these rules, your respect and patience is appreciated far more than an outburst. It can be hard to share, but most of us made it past the age of three, so we can figure it out. Be kind, safe, and most importantly—have fun.
Kelly Northcutt is a Steamboat native, mountain bike guide and Administrator for Routt County Riders