DEL NORTE — Kristi Mountain Sports Business Development Manager Raleigh Burt defied fog and snow early Tuesday morning to present an update on outdoor recreation in Colorado and the San Luis Valley to the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development group.
The bicycle shop operator of stores in both Alamosa and Del Norte endorsed a theme mentioned in Outdoor Retailer magazine’s winter issue, “If we build it, they will come,” applauding the efforts of both private and public entities to construct increasing numbers of mountain bike trails, for example the new ones in the Del Norte area in recent years. Also, in 2016 Kristi Mountain Sports began coordinating the 12 Hours of Penitence mountain bike race founded by Sydney Shalot of Salida in 2015.
Burt noted the initial race had 118 riders, then 78 in 2016, and up to 98 last year. One aspect serving as a big economic plus for the October 13, 2017 event was drawing 130 additional family and friends of the racers, “80 percent not from the SLV,” spending additional money regionally. The visitors and bikers provided $5,000 funding assistance for the all-Valley Rio Grande Rattlers high school mountain bike racing team, which had never been funded to this extent.
Another important piece of Burt’s talk at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte was an update on the national Outdoor Retailers convention held in the Denver area two weeks ago, shifting to Colorado after a 20-year presence in Salt Lake City, Utah. The younger Burt attended the Denver gathering with his father Eric, owner of Kristi Mountain Sports since 1983.
Without delving into every detail of why the show changed locations, Raleigh Burt explained that the lack of compelling interests in preserving public lands in Utah from the potentially destructive aspects of oil and gas development caused the most powerful companies to divorce the state whose interests did not favor them in the end.
Burt also emphasized the advantages south-central Colorado offers to potential tourists, including a far less crowded vacation environment than other parts of the state, or Moab, Utah, which has been the dominant mountain biking destination in the United States for many years.
He said the convention’s change in location’s impact on the SLV will be “some, but not immediately huge,” and in light of this, “Local initiatives are the only solution...Need to get the word out about the SLV, otherwise there is not a great deal of outside awareness (of the area).”
The 2018 race goals include inviting bike/outdoor industry insiders, for example, to experience Del Norte’s trails, and to present a “local festival atmosphere for the event.”
In addition to mountain bicycling as an economic benefit to the SLV is sand boarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The boards are available at Kristi Mountain Sports.