A new generation of outdoor junkies is skiing, boarding, biking — and boosting the Colorado economy
It’s a problem as old as mountain towns: there’s no room left at your condo for a mountain bike, rock skis and raft when you finally get your hands on a snowmobile.
“I call it ‘the garage,’” said Luis Benitez, director of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, a new state department created to oversee a surging sector of Colorado’s economy. “When you’re in a rural, outdoor-based community, you’ll find the dirt bike, mountain bike, water craft and the rest… People are starting to cross recreate a lot.”
This trend isn’t necessarily new, Benitez said, but the variety of recreation is. Think of it as a new generation of outdoor junkies who belong to multiple “tribes” — a buzz term for the different communities tied to mountain recreation: biking, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, bouldering and dozens more.
Benitez said the latest generation of four-wheelers and off-highway riders are at the forefront. For years, mountain bikers and OHV lovers clashed over trail use and access, but a new generation — a generation of cross-recreators — is more interested than ever in toys that blur the line between the two sports: e-bikes, pedal-assist bikes, freeride downhill mountain biking and products like Quiet Kat, a throttle-assisted fat bike from a manufacturer in Eagle.
“The motorized community isn’t saying, ‘This is all we do,’” Benitez said. “The bigger story is you’re getting mountain bikers who also dirt bike, or climb and dirt bike, or fish and dirt bike. That’s important to understand because for so long the motorized community has been seen as separate, and that can lead to feeling disenfranchised.”