Vandals Strike Steamboat Triathlon

28 bike flats caused by tacks strewn along route

Aug 20, 2014
Outside Magazine
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Nothing good comes from a peloton cycling through a sea of thumbtacks.    Kimon Berlin/Flickr

Officials in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, are searching for vandals believed to have targeted the Steamboat Triathlon after tacks blew out a group of cyclists' tires along the route Sunday morning.

Representatives from Boulder-based race organizer Without Limits realized they had a problem after four cyclists told the Routt County Sheriff's Office they'd gotten flats along a half-mile stretch of Highway 131. By the end of the day, 30 cyclists competing in the tenth annual race had gotten flats, 28 of which resulted from tacks.

"What it came down to were tacks. And in this case, a number of tacks," Jim McCreight, a race sponsor and flat-affected competitor, told CBS Denver. "I hope it's not a local."

The tacks would have been placed on the route tracing Lake Catamount in the early hours of the morning. Race officials report sweeping the course the previous evening, and competitors began the cycling portion of the race after finishing the swimming portion around 8 a.m.

"We've hosted triathlons for seven years, over 120 triathlons, and this is the first time we've seen this," race director Lance Panigutti told Steamboat Today.

Although the problem would make waves in any city, Steamboat Springs residents have special reason to be concerned: The cycling-heavy city brands itself as Bike Town USA

Steamboat residents have since established that both competitive and recreational cyclists who ride along Highway 131 have been getting flats from tacks for a while—specifically, tacks spray-painted to look like road surface.

Undersheriff Ray Birch said the sheriff's office is collecting tacks from the highway and encouraging anonymous tips. The office is considering criminal charges in the event of future injury.

"This is not isolated to just Sunday," McCreight said. "Somebody is going to get hurt."

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