~~~The 4th Annual Purgatory SkiBike Festival was held on the last week of February at Durango Mountain Resort, in southwest Colorado. Over 100 riders from the United States, Canada, England, Austria and South America made the trek to the San Juan's for some fine slidin'. The snow gods did not bless us with the bountiful harvest of previous years, but a good time was had by all.
~~~Skibike manufacturer presence included reps from: Brenter, Koski, Hanson Bikes and Stalmach.
~~~Visitors from other lands: Former World Champion and skibike manufacturer Jacek Stalmach again made the journey from Austria. Kevin Rochfort was also a repeat visitor from jolly ole England. He is an FISB representative and British Skibike Team member. One of their interests is to promote American participation in World Championship competition. Colorado rider, Chris Marriott, raced in Europe in January and it is a goal to gradually build a team for future competition. Canadian Brenter distributor, Brian Stolle, also made the trip down from the frozen north. The Festival is truly becoming an International affair, hence the new name.~
~~~Competition events were staged over the weekend (see pictorial below). Slalom, Multicross and Freestyle contests were organized for those wishing to test their skills. Additional rider classifications were added this year to distinguish and reward different biker groups.
~~~On the media side of things, The Durango Herald ran a large, top of the fold, front page Festival skibiking photo!
~~~Steamworks Brewery of Durango was the beer sponsor for the event providing free after- hours refreshment to all skibikers at Purgy's. A much appreciated, and well exploited perk!
~~~The traditional closing ceremony was held late Sunday afternoon, with race awards being distributed to competitors. Kudos to Mike Sparkman (Sparky) for contributing the chow. It was a good opportunity for everyone to bid farewell for another year.
~~~Another superb Fest! It's hard to believe it's over... It has now become tradition, our yearly pilgrimage to the southwest to share our common passion. Again, many thanks to Durango Mountain and staff! Our appointment for next season: February 21-25, 2007. See ya then... ~ ~R.R.
By: Dave Gonzalez
~~~So, you missed the Durango Skibike Festival 2006? Let me tell you all about it, my own adventures, anyways....
I arrived in Durango Wednesday night, after a grueling 13 hour drive. (I drove so I could bring 3 bikes, next
year, I'm going to fly). The air was cold, but there wasn't much snow on the ground. I wasn't concerned, as
long as there was snow on the hill.
~~~Driving to the resort the next morning, I was getting a little apprehensive- lots of dirt, rocks and grass visible, not much snow. So far, we've been lucky every year, with plenty of powder.
~~~Pulling into the parking lot, my heart sank. Yes, there was snow on the runs, but most of the woods and hillsides were bare. Not looking good....(keep reading, it gets better)
~~~I almost immediately ran into Roy Meiworm, our friend, lift manager, benefactor, festival honcho, and damned
cool guy. He was sick, overworked, but happy to see us (as always). Roy, get some rest man.
~~~By Thursday morning, we had about 40 registered riders, and more coming all the time, despite the rumors that many of us weren't going to show up due to poor snow quality.
~~~So, I grabbed my K2 and jumped on the lift. Didn't look promising, definitely not the glorious powder of previous years. It was heavily packed powder, that squeaky stuff that reminds me of styrofoam. I'm not very used to this kind of snow.
~~~The bike loved it. A little bumpy, but fast and slick, not that good for snowboards, but, I'm not a boarder anymore. I did several runs, and then I realized the genius of Durango's snow handling capabilities. There wasn't a lot of snow anywhere, but there was a decent amount of snow EVERYWHERE. No, it wasn't powder, but it was fun.
~~~By mid day, it seemed like everyone was showing up-riders and reps- Don Koski and the boys, Jacek Stalmach (with bikes for sale), Matt Hansen (with his new bike design), Mike and the guys from Creighton, Geary, Lenzsport, that guy with the skateboard kit (Railz?), the Triglider from Triage- it looked like bike week on the snow.
~~~And we had some new international visitors, Kevin Rochfort from England, representing the FISB, and that Creighton rider from Argentina, I heard about a couple of Mexicans, and of course a bunch of Canadians.
~~~I rode a lot, and I tried a bunch of different machines- A Koski with that monstrous suspension (never feel the bumps), the excellent carving on a Stalmach, that crazy fast green rocket of a bike by Flachsman, the new bike by Hansen (great ride), the Triglider and the Skike (the oddest machine on the snow).
~~~Note to the wise: Don't expect different kinds of machines to ride anything like your bike. I had a fairly dramatic wipeout on a Triglider because I tried to ride it like a ski-bike (I didn't get the concept of scrubbing speed with the FRONT ski!)
~~~Durango also has an excellent half-pipe, and I'm not the only biker that spent a lot of time in there, though I do admit I chickened out from actually jumping out of the pipe- I'll blame my herniated disc for my cowardice.
~~~The evenings were a lot of fun. I think there was a party at Purgy's every night. Thursday night was fairly epic- something about free beer? (lot of hangovers Friday)
~~~The events were awesome. The big air competition was absolutely mindblowing. Huge jumps, some dramatic
wipeouts. The crowd by the lifts was all watching and oohing and ahhing. (and wincing sometimes)
~~~The slalom race was a lot of fun. I competed in that one, really nice course. The only complaint we had was that the poles of the gate were too close together. I had my long footskis on, and, as I left the gate, I caught my toe, which ricocheted my ski into my bike, and back into the gate, which caught my binding, which snapped open, which half pulled my foot out of the binding... I was disqualified for veering out of the course (I'm not the only one who did that). I'm sure it'll be fixed next year.
~~~By this time, there were tons of bikers on the slopes. I've heard that over 130 people had registered, and lots of other people were renting bikes and taking lessons. You couldn't do a run without running into a couple of groups of bikers. (we need a cool word for a group of ski-bikers. School of fish, flock of birds, bevy of beauties,...how about a pack?)
~~~Sunday was a great day: awesome weather and the slopes were nearly empty- except for us. The big spectacle was the snowcross race, a big boardercross style course, 4 riders at a time, and the action was intense. The riders were often rubbing shoulders as the jockeyed for the lead.
~~~They had men's, womens, and childrens classes, so everyone got to play. The most amazing thing I saw all weekend- the famous jump. Matt Hansen had zipped by Jacek Stalmach, and took a hairpin turn at the flag. He didn't quite make it, and went down. But Jacek was right on his tail, barreling towards him- no place to go. A bunch of us watched from a nearby hill- this was going to get ugly- a sharp intake of breath... ...then Jacek slammed his feet down, and the bike went airborne- right over Matt! Jacek landed near the next gate, expertly maneuvered though the hairpin turn, and won the race. Jaws dropped all around. Amazing...
~~~After that, a few last runs, then the awards ceremony, a last chance to hang out with new and old friends, eat a little food and cheer for the victors.
~~~So, that's Durango '06 in a couple of paragraphs. Good riding, good people, a great time. If you couldn't make it this year, try harder next year. If you didn't come because of the snow, let me tell you- bad call. Everyone there had a great time.
~~~P.S. I'd like to thank Roy and Mandy, and the rest of the Durango crew for busting their buts to make this happen, and I'd like to thank Rod for doing a lot of work keeping the ASA running.