|A moment with
Roy Meiworm is the lift operations manager at Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado. Three years ago, with the support of the resort and volunteers, he started the Annual Skibike Festival. Most of the festival was organized while he was off duty, so we appreciate that he made time to speak to Skibike Magazine.
SBM: What prompted you to start the skibike festival?
RM: A few years ago, I ran into Fred Petersen, who used to compete back in the 60s. Since we both enjoyed snow biking, we got to talking at the bottom of Lift1. He had returned from a gathering up in Montana. Some 8, or10 riders showed up. I looked at him and said 'My gosh, what can we do here in Durango Mountain Resort?' And that's how the seed was planted to start something here.
SBM:What does the resort have to say?
RM: I've been fortunate that they've believed in what I've been doing [with skibiking], and I've been getting good support from them. They offered discounted tickets and lodging for the festival, and allowed me to open up two of our lifts for the foot passengers. Also, people from around the resort volunteered to help, and without them, I couldn't have half of the stuff done.
SBM:What did it take to get the first festival going?
RM: Well, I started pretty much blind. A lot of it was getting to know the right people. Fred Petersen introduced me to Rod Ratzlaff, who is the president of the American Ski Bike Association. I approached Rod, asked him what it would take. He helped me advertise thru his web site, and helped organize some of the events. He was real helpful in getting me a lot of information at the beginning.SBM:How successful was the first festival?
RM: You know, it blew me away. We ended up with over 100 riders on our first season. After talking with Fred about the Montana gathering, I was [only] expecting 20 to 50 riders. Our first [festival] was three days long. The following year we did it for four days. And now this year we're doing it for five days. I've underestimated the last couple of years, but from the amount of emails I've been getting, pretty much from around the world, I'm expecting 150 to 200.
SBM: What have you learned from the last two festivals?
RM: The last two years, I would start putting things together about a month, or two before the event, and it was almost out of control. What's really made things easer for me this year is that I started preparing my calendar of events months ago. I started clear back in the summer.
SBM: What could you work on back then?
RM: A lot of it was reserving and managing for the several races. I got to get with the race department to make sure they don't have any other races at that time. I also need labor for set up and tear down of each course. The majority is being done by volunteers. A lot of the riders that are showing up are also volunteering. Thatís what's making thing easy for me.
SBM: What does one do when you arrive for the festival?
RM: The riders have to show up at the registration table at the resort. That's where they do their check-in and get discount tickets.
SBM: What's scheduled?
RM: The first day (Feb23), is pretty much having a free day of skiing and riding on the mountain, getting registered, and checked in. Feb24 is the day we have the big Sno-Cat trip planned (discounted to $120/person). We're going to leave at 7:45AM, ride over to the Sno-Cats and go on to the back country. This is the fist time in the US -that I'm aware of- where there is a gathering in the back country. On Friday, we've got two bands lined up: One Kind Favour (they sound like the Grateful Dead, so any GD fan will love this band), and Moodshow Budha. That day we're letting people take some practice runs on the Paradise Race Arena, getting ready for the races. Then we're going to have a lunch meet at The Powder House. Starting on Saturday is the Dual Slalom, multi-cross and trick riding. Every day at 4PM we'll have a meet-and-Greet
SBM: Will there be opportunities for new riders?
RM: Yes , we will have a good number of people that will be first-time ski bikers.
This is the only time where all the manufacturers will be in one place. So visitors can come here, touch the ski bikes, and look at them. The only way you can do see them right now is by internet. I have a lot of people asking me about the manufacturers coming, and I've got quite a few showing up. So it will give them a good chance to have a hands-on experience with the ski bikes.
SBM: Where are you taking your festival?
RM: My sole purpose is to help sell the sport. I'm not trying to sell a certain bike, not trying to sell a certain ski area. [Skibiking] has opened up my eyes to a different way riding on the mountain. I still enjoy skiing, don't get me wrong - every chance I get I'll slap my skis on and get my runs in. But on the days I normally wouldn't be skiing [because of back injury], I have the option of getting on the ski bike.
One thing about the skibike festival is that I had the opportunity to ride a lot of the bikes in the market. On every bike that I have ridden, I feel like I have control, and have little-to-no problem getting on and off the lift. I'm not trying to sell a certain bike, I'm not trying to sell a certain resort. I'm just trying to sell something that I'm having a good time with.