“She’s got a ticket to ride, She’s got a ticket to riiiide, She’s got a ticket to ride, but she don’t care!” Well, I certainly did have a ticket to ride, and what a ride it was!
=Joey and I flew out of Boston, Wednesday, February 26th to Denver and into Durango. Our very friendly shuttle driver picked us up and toured us through the little town of Durango. We made a grocery/wine stop – the effects of the air pressure on the chip bags mesmerized us – then it was off to Durango Mountain Resort. Coming from sea level, we were warned of the altitude change, so we drank gallons of water and relaxed for the rest of the day. Apparently Mother Nature got involved with the Festival as most of the mountains snow came just days prior – and continued through Saturday, with 2 feet more! Staying slope side was ideal; the accommodations were excellent, the view spectacular, the food was great, and the convenience was immeasurable. Rod (our illustrious founder and President of the ASA) was staying at the resort as well, so we met that night at “Purgys” to go over the game plan.
=The Resort was being quite accommodating for the weekend Festival. Riding lessons were free, lift tickets ½ price, rentals $20, licenses for $5 and all experienced riders would be issued licenses without proving experience, a fleet of 30 Brenter bikes would be available, and an information tent bearing the First Ski Bike Festival banner would be set up for event info and race schedules.
=Having arrived a few days early, Joey and I were able to enjoy some ride time and what a ride it was – Powder, Powder and more Powder (at one point over my handlebars)! Icy, groomed slopes are all we’ve experienced in the East and definitely nothing as large or rolling as Durango. Mike Muir and Roy Meirworm were our fantastic and gracious hosts and guided us through many tree adventures. They give new meaning to wearing a helmet!
=Coast to coast representation started arriving; Fred Peterson with his 1971 Porsche (for display), Ron Mickelberry (Lord of the Bikes) with his Hari, Mike Sparkman (Sparky) with his evangelical enthusiasm, Ed Snyder with an original race bike from the ‘60’s, Dave Gonzalez (Gonzo) with his own invention. All ages, all levels of experience, different styles of riding, and so many different machines – all there for one reason, to enjoy the ride!
=Saturday morning the official Festival began. Bike reps arrived to set up camp around the info tent. Don Koski and his talented race team (Ryan, Loren & Matt) shared demos, riding tips, colorful stories and some Marin Brewery Beer. Matt Hanson from Winter X Bikes showed a conversion bike and BMX style riding. Luke Van Maldeghem and Gus Ward from K2 brought so many-but not nearly enough-bikes as kids and adults alike clamored to ride a K2.
`The slalom races were held that afternoon (see "The Race Page"), we then moved on to a conference room to view some tapes; K2, Koski, and Winter X Bike all showed some great demo tapes, K2 shared the Olympic segments with the Today Show, The National Geographic segment filmed at Durango was viewed, and an old Ian Watson ride through the trees was enjoyed. The camaraderie at this point was intense. It was incredible to see so many varied personalities, ages and bike choices bonding together.
=Sunday dawned bright, blue skies and for the first time in days – no snow. The info booth and bike reps continued to be the gathering spot to swap stories, reel in some “newbies”, and share a beer and some style tips. Joey and I were glad to have the opportunity to demo a K2 and a Brenter S8. Where else can you go and have this much fun! 1:30 all gathered at the bottom and then again at the top for a group photo. What a site to see “Hell’s Angels” on skis – no make that “Purgatory’s Angels”. Afterwards, we all participated in the downhill competition.
=Our Ski Bike Festival experience had come to a close. Rod, Craig (the official photographer), Joey and I met for dinner and recapped the weekend’s events – It was a success!!! Tree-runs were the popular choice, there were no injuries, Justin and Jeff brought the adaptive aspect, so maybe the NSA will get involved, maybe we should solicit sponsors to defray costs, same mountain next year?, possibly end of February?, a guest appearance by Paul McCartney?, bells for everyone?…………..
=A great big thank you to Rod for everything – his creativity, endless hours of work on the website and with coordination of the Festival, his perseverance, out of pocket expenses, and his foresight without which there would be no Festival!
=The large contingent of veteran riders present, free lessons and manufacturer displays acted as a catalyst to entice many first-time rides, and a lot of big smiles.. It's irresistible, after all! Manufacturer participation included reps from K2, Koski, and WinterXbike, with many taking advantage of the demo bikes being offered. Brenter made their presence felt through the rental fleet, which was sold out most of the time.
=Two race events were held, a slalom on Saturday, and a short downhill on Sunday (see "The Race Page"). The $1,000,000 cash purse was a great motivator, everyone put the petal to the metal, I think the sound barrier was broken..
=To foot-ski or not to foot-ski, that was the question. The Koski and WinterXbike boys rode without with most of the rest going with. The chairlift "no foot traffic" rule was suspended on lift 1 to quell the riots. Different strokes for different folks.. No big deal, really!
=All in all, it was a grand success, the largest group of skibiker's in one place (in the U.S.) in decades, with no incidents or accidents. Most of all, this was a social gathering, a chance to share our common passion. The camaraderie among such a large, diverse group of riders and manufacturers was very heartening. A special thank you goes out to Durango Mountain and all the staff for their hospitality. This is just the beginning of the journey, wait till next year!
=On that subject, the 2004 SkiBike America Festival will be held on February 28 & 29, at Durango Mountain Resort, Colorado USA.
Subject: RE: Skibike Festival
=Rod, congratulations on pulling off the 2003 Ski-bike America Festival at Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado! It was a tremendous success!
=For most of us, it was the first time to be able to share the mountain with other ski-bike enthusiasts. And share we did, with gusto, whether it was racing, tree runs, ski-bike movies, or stories over beers.
=With many different manufacturers present, I got a chance to ride four different models in one weekend, in an environment of friendly competition that emphasized the love of the sport over winning and losing.
=One added bonus that I enjoyed was introducing the ski-bike to the Durango Adaptive Sports Association as adaptive equipment. They were very receptive, and in addition to appreciating how the ski-bike was being used that weekend for people with a variety of disabilities (amputees and a person with multiple sclerosis), they invited me to race in their adaptive event the same weekend!
=The level of excitement and enthusiasm was contagious, and both the Durango Mountain Resort and all the ski-bikers are looking forward to next years event. Luke better practice up if he expects to keep his slalom medal!
See you next year,