Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mountain Town News


Cougar misses biker, but doesn't slink away

WHISTLER, B.C.—A mountain biker training for a race called Test of Metal was riding up a trail near Squamish, west of Whistler, when he saw something brown pounce off a mossy knoll behind him.

"The next thing I know, I'm crashing off the trail," explained Dean Linnell. "I think it missed me and got the back of my bike."

It was a mountain lion. Linnell did what all wildlife experts say people should do if confronted by a cougar: He got aggressive, picking up his bike. But the cougar, which was just several feet away, wasn't retreating very far.

Soon, his riding buddies caught up with him. They started throwing rocks, almost nailing the lion in the head. The cat didn't flee. It just casually left.

"The main thing is to make sure in that situation you don't run away or show the cougar your back," said Linnell.

The British Columbia Conservation Office said to back away from a cougar, allowing it an escape route. In California, some mountain bikers riding at dusk or other low-light situations have put eye-looking lights on the backs of their helmets to deceive cougars. The idea is to make cougars, which rely on surprise when they hunt, think they're being watched.

Steamboat studies how to pair butts, bikes and beds

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—Bicycling seems to be on the rise, and several Colorado mountain towns are seeing a particularly big bounce in visitors this summer resulting from two big tours, the annual Ride the Rockies mass pedalthon sponsored by The Denver Post and then the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August.

In Steamboat Springs, an effort called Biketown USA Initiative has been plotting how to make bicycling a bigger part of the summer menu. In doing so, it has looked at Whistler, which installed an innovative mountain bike park some years ago. A 2008 study found that visitors at Whistler drawn by the mountain biking spend an average $133 a day.

In Steamboat, a typical summer visitor spends $73 per day. Promoters of the bicycling initiative hope to improve that to $112 per day, reports Steamboat Today.

Bicycling is also in the news in Aspen. Mick Ireland, the mayor, is an avid road bicycle racer, and he was off to Europe to sing the praises of Aspen for its bicycling possibilities.

Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong was recently in Aspen, where he maintains a vacation home. So was Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong's former teammate who recently accused Armstrong of using dope.

An account in The Aspen Times says they met up at a restaurant, and witnesses said they talked about five minutes. They also said Hamilton tried to give Armstrong a hug, but Armstrong brushed him off. The FBI is said to be trying to get surveillance tape from the restaurant, though the tape would not have provided any conversation.

Affordable housing prices rise, even as market falls

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo.—Not all home values have been shrinking like a mound of snow on a hot summer day. Deed-restricted homes in Summit County, Colo., appreciated 2.5 percent during the recession while single-family homes declined 21.6 percent.

This is based on data from June 2008 through June 2010, reports the Summit Daily News.

Of course, deed-restricted housing never had the huge gains enjoyed by free-market housing because, by definition, the deeds restrict the resale price. What's going on? David O'Neil, developer of two affordable-housing complexes in Summit County, says it's very simple.

"We have real people, buying real homes, with real dollars. As a result, it is a very stable market."

And it's a much safer investment than unrestricted market homes, he said.

Sold-out food festival a sign of the old times

ASPEN, Colo.—While doubts remain about the strength of the recovering economy, note that the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen this summer has had to turn away significant numbers of people willing to pay top dollar to taste wines and hear from top chefs talking about their craft. Few rooms were available last weekend, reports The Aspen Times.

"People are in disbelief, so I hope they realize that they can't wait until the last minute next year, as this could be signaling a slow return to the old days," said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass.

It was, he said, the first time since 2008 that guests were turned away.

Whistler requires new homes be 'solar-ready'

WHISTLER, B.C.—Whistler and 35 other town and cities in British Columbia have agreed to require all new single-family homes built within their boundaries be "solar hot-water ready."

Solar thermal eliminates burning gas or electricity to produce hot water. In some cases, hot water produced by roof-top and other solar-thermal collectors is used for space-heating purposes.

Pique Newsmagazine notes that solar hot water collectors will not be required. The added installation could cost $6,000 to $8,000, according to one local building contractor.

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