Ski Butlers Blog - August 2011

A Summer of Cycling in the Rockies

A Summer of Cycling in the Rockies

It’s hard to beat summer in the Rockies.  It seems as if the last month has been sunny and 75 every day - pretty perfect for a bike ride.

The Vail Valley is proud to host two stages of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  Vail is proud to host stage 3, Thursday, August 25 – the only time trial event of the race which starts in the heart of Vail Village and ends at the top of Vail Pass. On Friday, August 26, riders will depart from downtown Avon on their way to Steamboat Springs.  The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is expected to be the largest spectator event in Colorado history, and one of the largest sporting events to ever take place in the United States.  128 of the top riders in the world will compete for seven consecutive days, covering a distance of 518 miles through the rugged Rocky Mountains.   

Stage 1 (Aug. 23) consists of a circuit through the town of Salida, followed by a 102 mile trek to Mt. Crested Butte.  Stage 1 will certainly give cyclists their first taste of the lung-grabbing, oxygen deprived Rocky Mountain air.  Riders will gain 3250 feet in elevation over 13 miles, to the top of Monarch Pass.  After the descent, riders will close out the day on an uphill climb from the lower area of Crested Butte, to the finish line on the top of Mt. Crested Butte – the USA Pro Cycling Challenges only mountain top finish.

Stage 2 (Aug. 24) from Gunnison to Aspen will prove to be the most difficult.  This section of the race will summit two 12,000 foot peaks! Riders will leave the town of Gunnison and travel through the Gunnison National Forest.  They will then ascend 2740 feet over 13.7 miles to the top of Cottonwood Pass (12,126 feet above sea level).  After a quick descent, riders will battle the second pass of the day.  Independence Pass (12,095 ft.), arguably one of the most spectacular passes in Colorado, consists of a 6.5% gradient with numerous switchbacks.  After 131 miles, the grueling second stage comes to an end in picturesque downtown Aspen.

Stage 3 (Aug. 25) is the Vail Time Trial.  Starting the heart of Vail Village, riders will ride uphill, 10 miles to the top of Vail Pass.

Stage 4 (Aug. 26) from Avon to Steamboat Springs, should prove to be an easier day.  Without significant climbs or high speed descents, cyclists have numerous opportunities to break away.  The 86 mile trek starts in Avon, passes through Wolcott and ends in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Stage 5 (Aug. 27) consists of a 109 mile race starting in Steamboat and ending in Breckenridge.  Stage 5 should prove to be another stage which will provide ample opportunities for aggressive riding and breakaways. Riders will summit Rabbit Ears Pass, before descending through Kremmling, passing Green Mountain Reservoir and finishing in downtown Breckenridge.

Stage 6 (Aug. 28) from Golden to Denver certainly won’t be a cake walk.  Riders will leave Golden, climb and descend the treacherous 6.1% gradient Lookout Mountain. After an exhausting 1300 feet of elevation gain over 4.8 miles, riders make their way back down the hill and pass through Golden one more time before heading to the Mile High City.  Riders will then make six laps of a five-mile circuit along Speer Boulevard before reaching the finish line in front of Denver’s State Capitol Building, where the winner will be crowned.

I hope all of you reading this will get a chance to view the race yourself.  It is truly an event for the record books. Thank you, as always, from Vail.  Ski Season is just around the corner!

Tags: biking

The Sweet Sounds of Summer in Whistler

Here I sit on yet another rainy summer day in Whistler.  But who am I to complain when for the past 2 nights I and mine got to enjoy 2 free- Yes Free! - outdoor concerts featuring 2 Canadian rock and roll masters.  Set up in the newly designed Olympic plaza, productions presented by none other than the Municipality of Whistler, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider on Friday night and Colin James and his Little Big Band on Saturday.


Bringing me back to my teenage years, Tom and the boys played both Tom Cochrane hits and the golden oldies by Red Rider.  For those of you non-Canadians, if these names don’t strike a chord, you’ll definitely remember dancing in the bar or the après ski club to Tom Cochrane’s greatest hit “Life is a Highway”.


Colin James’ magic on his guitar – trained by the one and only legend Stevie Ray Vaughn, sure can get the crowd to its feet.  Colin and his band thrilled the fans with some of his newer swing music and many of his original hits like “Just Came Back”, “Why’d You Lie”, and a great cover of Van the Man’s “Into The Mystic”.


All in all - a fantastic weekend for everyone.  While the diverse crowd was mesmerized by the performers on stage, the artists enjoyed views of their fans under the amazing vista of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains lit up by the full moon.


These are just 2 of many in a series of Canadian artists featured in the Olympic venue this summer.  Oh, and did I mention they’re all free?  Whistler in the summer – a pretty great place to be while waiting for the snow to fall once again.  It makes my heart glow, eh!



Tags: whistler

In Lake Tahoe......Life is Good

As summer races by, my excitement for this coming season grows with each new day. Although life at Ski Butlers is unrelenting, I am constantly reminded of this by the massive amount of snowpack that remains in the high country. And the prediction of another La Nina winter has me chomping at the bit for ski season to arrive. The funny thing is I actually sold 2 pairs of skis on August 5. Apparently, I am not the only one.

Despite the many new developments at Ski Butlers this year, my focus remains on strengthening our Lake Tahoe locations and delivering legendary service in a way never before experienced. From our company culture to our community involvement program, Ski Butlers is surely changing the ski rental industry. 
A quick overview of whats left of this summer's Lake Tahoe event calendar: Hot August nights is currently underway and will be in Reno by the weekend. Come check out the sweetest hot rods and classic cars. Phish will take the stage at Harvey's Outdoor Ampitheater for two nights, perhaps the most sought after concert of the summer. Also, don't miss the slough of SUP(stand-up paddleboard) events coming as well as the Tahoe Expo, a two-day event that showcases Lake Tahoe as a geotourism destination while educating the public on this regions sustainable practices. 
I hope summer is treating everyone well and that the heat wave hasn't kept you indoors too much. Lets soak it up and enjoy the rest of the summer before the snow flies again. Farewell from Lake Tahoe. I will be in touch in the fall with a breakdown of resort improvements for the 2011/12. Pray for Snow!

Tags: tahoe

What does Ski Butlers do in the off-season?

 “What does Ski Butlers do in the off season?”  #1 question this time of year – and the answer is…….  “Um, I’m not sure, but I’m always busy”


So I figured it was time I sat down and looked back through the ole’ Journal and came up with a good answer to that question.  So here it goes, starting when the lifts finally shut down:


First thing – we sleep, usually for a good 12-36 hours.  Then upon waking we read through 4 months of newspapers and watch many, many hours of Tivo’d Daily Show and Simpsons episodes.  Once caught up on the world and feeling somewhat normal we migrate for a long weekend to some place hot – like Moab, UT – for a bit of camping, hiking and biking.  Upon return its right back in to Ski Butlers – can’t waste a moment from here on out, Ski Season is only 6 ½ months away.


Once our Khakis’ and Red Vests are cleaned, ironed and hermetically sealed for next season we can begin the off-season training program.  This training takes place in the Ski Butlers Proving Ground and Delivery Scenario Assessment Center, or S.B.P.G.D.S.A.C for short.  This is a state of the art, 30,000 sq. ft. facility in an undisclosed location – it has the ability to simulate any and every possible scenario our Team Members may encounter while delivering skis.  For example, there is the 6 story metal grated stairwell to climb with 2 boot bags and 8 pair of skis; there is the driving test where Team Members must avoid several large SUV’s slipping and sliding on slick roads and of course the most difficult and probably the best test of mental integrity – the Bichon Boot Fitting.  Team Members must fit three 10 year olds while fending off the nips and barks of 5 Bichon Frise – terrifying. 


Okay so that is mostly a lie, the truth is that we typically are working locally to build up Ski Butlers and internally to refine our operations.  This summer has been a little different, we began our “Turn-Key” project before the season ended and really got into it in the months following.  What is this project?  We decided that before we really began to expand (10 locations isn’t expanded?) we would document all processes that are involved with Ski Butlers, from how we pack orders to how our Social Media will be handled.  Why?  It’s all about Customer Service – born out of this came our Core Values and the cementing of the Ski Butlers Culture – a culture based around delivering legendary service.  “We are a customer service company who happens to rent skis.” 


One of the great by-products of this was our want to focus on Community Involvement; we want Ski Butlers to be a part of every community we are involved with.  This summer all full-time Team Members and some seasonal Team Members have been active in their respective community, from volunteering at various benefit races, working the phones of a local pledge drive, or helping to organize a community around sustaining their beautiful and very blue lake.  The Community Involvement piece of Turn-Key is one that may be most obvious to the public; the rest of Turn-key will make itself very evident to all of our customers.


So there it is, work as usual, or a bit unusual, but that’s what makes a Ski Butler a Ski Butler.  We have Team Members who are excited every day to come to work and be part of something bigger than themselves – it’s not just a means to go skiing, and it’s something we at Ski Butlers are very proud of.  We do get out of the office as well – we live in some of the most beautiful places in the country and it would be a shame not to.

Tags: offseason