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==========February 20-24, 2008


Photo: Jeff  Butcher

    The 6th Annual Purgatory SkiBike Festival was held on the last full week of February at Durango Mountain Resort, in southwest Colorado.  Riders from the United States and Europe made the trek to the San Juan's for some communal slidin'. The snow gods again saw fit to offer up plenty of the white stuff, to further elevate the experience. Brenter Snowbikes was the official event sponsor.

        Construction was still the order of the day in the courtyard, scheduled to be completed this summer. Condo's anyone?

       Skibike exhibitors included reps from: Brenter, Koski, Lenzsport and Stalmach.  SkibikeFun, a New Mexico based multi-line retailer, was also present representing Sledgehammer, Snowscoot, Swiss Bikeboard, Venom and others.          

         Repeat visitors from other lands included: Former World Champion and skibike manufacturer Jacek Stalmach from Austria and FISB representative Kevin Rochfort from Great Britain. Kevin has been assisting with the race program for the last several years, many thanks...

        Competition events were staged over the weekend for those wishing to test their skills (see pictorial below). Two events were offered, a Slalom on a nice sunny Saturday on the Paradise course, with a longer, faster Giant Slalom race on Sunday on the Upper Hates run. Lot's of fun...

         To those of us addicted to playing in the trees, Poet's Glade offers a very satisfying fix. This run is accessed on the far side of the mountain off of lift 8. Lot's of smiles...

         There was a major fire in downtown Durango on Friday afternoon, with several  historic buildings receiving heavy damage. Sometimes mother nature bites back...

         Steamworks Brewery of Durango was again the beer (and poster) sponsor for the event providing free after- hours refreshment to all skibikers at Purgy's. Kudos! They say that this was the last season for Purgy's bar and restaurant, which was the original lodge at the base of the ski area, originating from the 60's. Another great historical building bites the dust in the name of progress ($)!

I'll miss it...  

        Fred Petersen and Mike Sparkman again hosted a dinner/movie party at the Elk Point Community Center adjacent to the ski area Saturday night. It is well known that skibikers can't resist free food, and the movie offerings were quite entertaining, with some fine vintage racing footage from America and Europe.  

        Again this year, many of us bunked at the excellent Silverpick Lodge, about a mile down the road from  Purgatory.  We had skibikers-exclusive possession of the facility Fri-Sun (scary). There were 10' walls of snow on the access roads surrounding the lodge, they've received some serious snowfall down there this season!

       The closing ceremony was held in the courtyard late Sunday afternoon, with race metals [again] being distributed in the falling snow. A fitting conclusion...

      Another Fest and another season have passed by, in the blink of an eye. Time seems quite accelerated these days. Good runs, good people, good fun. Again, many thanks to our hosts and staff.   ~Rod Ratzlaff






  [Men]: 1. Jacek Stalmach 00:31.50 (Stalmach) 2. Kevin Rochfort (Brenter) 00.38.57


[Men]: 1. Chris Marriott 00:33.41 (Flachsmann) 2. Mike Sparkman 00:35.34 (Brenter) 3. Roy Meiworm 00.36.80 (Stalmach) 4. Kevin Lanke 00:38.54 (K2) 5. Dave Gonzalez 00:39.90 (K2) 6. Brian Bowers 00:40.07 (Brenter)  

[Senior Men] 1. Patrick Neelan 00:33.40 (Stalmach) 2. (tie) Maynard Schweigert 00:36.66 (Stalmach) 2. (tie) Jeff  Butcher 00:36.66 (Koski) 3. Rod Ratzlaff 00:37.29 (Stalmach) 4. Bill Walston 00:41.74 (Brenter) 5. Marvin Wanner- DQ (Brenter)  

[Women]: 1. Mattie Wyckoff 00:42.50 (Stalmach) 2. Debbie Wyckoff 00:43.21 (Stalmach) 3. Lauren Ward 00:47.12 (Stalmach)


Giant Slalom:


  [Men]: 1. Jacek Stalmach 01:55.75 (Stalmach)   


  [Men]: 1. Chris Marriott 02:04.88 (Flachsmann) 2. Mike Sparkman 02:21.17 (Brenter)

[Senior Men] 1. Patrick Neelan 02:06.91 (Stalmach) 2. Maynard Schweigert 02:13.85 (Stalmach) 3. Jeff Butcher  02:17.49 (Koski) 4. Rod Ratzlaff  02:23.67 (Stalmach)

  [Women]: 1. Mandy Miller 02:29.75 (Flachsmann) 2. Mattie Wyckoff 02:39.18 (Stalmach) 3. Donna Sparkman 02:57.98




  [Men]: 1. Jacek Stalmach (Stalmach)


  [Men]: 1. Chris Marriott (Flachsmann) 2. Mike Sparkman (Brenter)   

   [Senior Men] 1. Patrick Neelan (Stalmach) 2. Maynard Schweigert (Stalmach) 3. Jeff Butcher (Koski) 4. Rod Ratzlaff (Stalmach)

  [Women]: 1. Mattie Wyckoff (Stalmach) 2. Lauren Ward  (Stalmach)



CONTESTS: Slalom: 2 runs-combined (timed) Giant Slalom: 2 runs-combined (timed)

Combination: Sum-total scoring for the Slalom and Giant Slalom



Photo: Roy Meiworm


Photo: Jeff Butcher

Sales displays...


Photo: Roy Meiworm

Sales display: Stalmach

All photo names read left to right


Photo: Roy Meiworm

Kenny Gensel and Don Koski


Photo: Roy Meiworm

Rear: Fred Petersen, Kevin Rochfort

Front: Debbie Wyckoff, Maynard Schweigert, Rod Ratzlaff, Jeff Butcher


Photo: Roy Meiworm

Ridin' the lift, Lenzsport style


The new Stalmach tandem, a bike built for two... (photo from the Sipapu Rally)


Lauren Ward and Donna Sparkman

Photo: Jeff  Butcher


Photo: Roy Meiworm

Skibike models, Owner: Fred Petersen


Photo: Roy Meiworm


Photo: Jeff  Butcher

The sheriff's posse...


Photo: Jeff  Butcher

Trikes & Bikes, Bob Kolesar and Ellyn Murphy

Competition Events


Class Winners

Photo: Kevin Rochfort

Photo: Kevin Rochfort

Photo: Kevin Rochfort

Jacek Stalmach

Chris Marriott

Patrick Neelan


Photo: Kevin Rochfort

Photo: Kevin Rochfort

Mattie Wyckoff

Mandy Miller

Photo: Kevin Rochfort

Photo: Jeff  Butcher

Photo: Jeff  Butcher

Photo: Kevin Rochfort

The Slalom Course

            <  >

Event coordinator Roy Meiworm

Waitin' for the race to begin...

* The various class podium finishers, some of whom appeared multiple times, are all pictured except for Mike and Donna Sparkman and Lauren Ward who were not present for the ceremony. Photo names relate left to right. See the results listed below for full details.  


The Awards Ceremony


Photo: Roy Meiworm

Photo: Roy Meiworm

Photo: Roy Meiworm

Photo: Roy Meiworm

Photo: Roy Meiworm

Photo: Patrick Neelan

Presenter: Kevin Rochfort

Chris Marriott, Jacek Stalmach

Jeff Butcher, Patrick Neelan, Maynard Schweigert

Debbie Wyckoff

Roy Meiworm

Mattie Wyckoff, Mandy Miller

   Durango, 2008. Once again, I had the opportunity to attend the largest gathering of ski-bikers on the western hemisphere. As always, it was  a blast.

   First- the weather was amazing. Snow. Tons of it. Actually, so much snow, that we experienced some white-out on friday, and most of the skiers and boarders went back to the lodge for beer and/or hot chocolate. It was heaven, and I've got to say, if you've never been to Durango Mountain resort in late february, it's not unusual to wipe eight inches of snow off your car before driving home.

   I had the pleasure of bringing a friend who hadn't attended the festival before, though he had been ski-biking for three seasons already. I enjoyed the chance to have him meet my ski-bike friends, to see the latest model bikes for sale, to race, and to ride with packs of bikers through the woods.

   Our first day (thursday) was short- it's quite a drive from Los Angeles, and we felt lucky to get six or seven runs in- but the snow was great, and I think, like a lot of us, I really appreciate being in a large group sometimes, with bikers all over the front of the mountain, I felt right at home.

   We brought four bikes with us- two K2 1.0's, a K2 SMX, and and old 1990's Vertex. I was expecting to ride the Vertex most of the weekend, because the squishy suspension is really nice on my back (recovering from a car accident). But, there was too much snow, and I had to go with the SMX, which would float better on the fresh powder.

   The first few days at the festival are very mellow, just meeting old friends, making new friends, and exploring the mountain. We met Roy Meiworm, who runs the festival. He's an avid skibiker, a skibike instructor and a tireless friend of our sport. Everybody who reads this needs to buy him a beer, and help him out when he needs it, because it can't be easy running an event of this size.

   When the day was done, we drove downhill to Durango. I would have preferred to stay at the Silverpick lodge with a large group of bikers, but that's at a very high altitude, and I've got to say, if you live near sea-level, never assume you're OK to sleep above 7000 feet. Play at any altitude you'd like, but if you sleep in town, drink lots of water and pay attention to your condition, you should be OK. (last year I had altitude sickness, so I knew better this time)

   We stayed in a historic 1880s hotel, the Strater, and I think the guests were amused to see the porters carrying several ski-bikes into the bellman's closet.

   Durango is a pretty cool town- but I was still surprised to find a Tibetan restaurant serving traditional food. This is a city that caters to a lot of tourists, and I was pleased to find a wide assortment of eats, mostly at reasonable prices.

   On friday, it was time to hit the slopes for real, and we rode all over the hill, as we slowly worked our way towards the back side of the mountain. The skiers and boarders were generally very friendly and curious, and we answered a lot of questions and got a lot of compliments. I got used to hearing "that's sick!" in the lift lines. (if you don't speak snowboard, that is a compliment)

   As we worked our way back, I read the map, and I saw entire parts of the mountain I hadn't ridden before. Durango's a big place, and the far edge of the resort has some very steep blacks, and a whole lot of trees. In years past, I hadn't been as confident, but nowadays, a black doesn't worry me, and I've been known to hit double blacks. (note to the new guys: it's really easy to lean how to ski-bike, but don't just rent a bike and run off to the steeps. Two of the most important skills any biker needs to know are how to stop, and how to slow down, on any slope, at any speed- yeah, you can point a bike downhill and let it go, but that's not the mark of a safe, skilled ski-biker)

   We were riding with Maynard Schweigert (forgive my spelling) and Fred Peterson- the guy who taught me how to ride, and a long term veteran- he's been riding bikes since the 60's!

   The trees were amazing- the whole mountain was amazing, but we were exploring an entire forest, very often on virgin powder. Occasionally we'd see a skier or a snowboarder, but mostly, it was just us.

   We had lunch on the slopes. Durango actually has two restaurants on the hill, and that sure makes life easier when you don't have to go back to the base to get some food or use the bathroom.

   Friday afternoon, we returned to the base, were we got to see all the bikes at the vendor's tents. Stalmach, Sledgehammers, Lenzsport, Board bikes- it was quite a selection.

    We spoke to a number of bikers, including Rod Ratzlaff, who runs the American Skibike Association (buy him a beer!) and Mandy Miller, a tireless event planner (who arranges for the accommodations for many of the bikers).

   That's when we heard the bad news- Downtown Durango was on fire! This didn't directly affect many of us, who were staying on the mountain, or at any number of motels scattered around town...but, the Strater was downtown, and I wasn't sure if I had someplace to sleep, or anything to wear.

   When we got to town, we saw all the emergency equipment, and some serious destruction- half a city block had been heavily damaged in an explosion- just 100 feet from our hotel. Several firefighters had been hurt, but luckily, nobody was killed.

   Saturday promised to be the big day. The one day when everybody has shown up, and nobody has left yet. And the slalom race.

   We rode for a while, waiting for the race at noon, and that's when a bit of confusion started. The race officials were concerned that the increasing snowfall would disable their timing equipment, and they moved the race later, but we were already scattered all over the mountain, and we had to play a game of telephone, telling all the other bikers what was happening. It was a bit chaotic, but I think that most of the people who wanted to race did get to race.

   I enjoyed racing very much, but I was riding an SMX, which can do a lot of things, but has never been called fast. I enjoyed my runs, but I missed a few of the more visual mishaps- including Mandy taking a tumble when one of her skis de-laminated. (she wasn't hurt)

    After a full day of riding, it was time for the party at a nearby community recreation center. It was in walking distance, and it was great to enjoy the company of the other bikers, as well as watch videos and eat food. We got to see skibike races, promotional material, and the ever popular "Better off dead" ski race sequence.

   Roy got up and gave a nice speech about some of the things we need to do to keep this sport going. A good reminder that we are ambassadors of our sport, and that if we want to make it, like snowboarding did, (and snow-skates and snow decks didn't), we have to put forth the effort, recruit new riders, and work with the resorts to make this happen.

   I also got a chance to talk with Ellyn Murphy and Bob Kolesar, a very inspirational couple. Ellyn is disabled, with significant mobility/stability issues, and Bob built her a special ski-bike, designed for adaptive use. The ShroomBob has a seat that rides on the lift seat, making it very easy for the physically challenged to use the lifts. I really admired the effort they put in to playing together as a couple.

   Sunday- I was tired, but I had already called work and taken Monday off. We were going to ride this mountain till the lifts closed. We stayed on the front side of the hill till we managed to get enough bikers rounded up for the annual picture. Then, we started getting a group together for a trip back to the woods (if you're ever in Durango, I recommend Poet's Glade- the best tree runs ever).

   We had decided to skip the giant slalom this year, though when I saw the course later, I regretted it a bit. Next year I'm going to ride a much faster bike, and I'll be in all the races. (I'm not sure who won any of the races, but I'm sure it'll be posted on this site)

   We rode in the trees all day, and it was another great day in Durango. My only complaint- the woods were so big that we never did hook up with our buddies who were riding the same woods. I had been hoping to see Rod's custom Velocity bike in action, but we never saw him and Maynard.

   The 2008 Purgatory International Skibike Festival- it was well worth the 13 hour drive, and if you are a ski-biker, you should try very hard to get their next year.  ~Gonzo







Participant Review...

By: Dave Gonzalez