By Colin Bane
American cyclist Levi Leipheimer won a pair of Romp Skis made by Crested Butte locals Morgan and Caleb Weinberg when he claimed a stage win in Crested Butte last year on his way to taking overall honors on the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This year the brothers collaborated with local photographer Trent Bona on a new pair of planks to be presented to the winner of Stage 2, which starts in Montrose and ends in Crested Butte. We caught up with Morgan to learn more about his company and about how he plans to spend race day in Crested Butte.
SI: How did the opportunity to have Romp Skis involved in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge come about?
Morgan Weinberg: The local organizers approached us last year and we were stoked. My brother and I are cycling fans and we both ride and race ourselves, so it’s an honor to have Romp Skis be involved.
What can you tell us about the skis this year’s Stage 2 winner will be getting?
It’s definitely a fully-functioning ski, if the winner does want to ski it, and it’s a ski that was made right here in Crested Butte. This year we chose our 115 ski — 115 is the width of the ski underfoot in millimeters — because it’s one of our most popular models and it’s also pretty wide, which is good for the graphics and logos we wanted to put on there for this most special occasion. My brother Caleb and local photographer Trent Bona collaborated on a really stunning graphic design.
Are you rooting for any particular racer to win the skis this time around?
I’d be stoked if Levi Leipheimer wants to add some more Romp Skis to his collection, but my brother-in-law is Australian and he really wants Cadel Evans to win them, so I’d also like to see that happen.
For folks who are just hearing the name Romp Skis for the first time, can you tell us a bit about the company and where you’re coming from?
About four years ago I ran across some stuff on the Internet about people making skis in their garages. We had a lot of tools laying around and it seemed like a fun thing to do, so my brother and I made a few pairs in my garage. We really liked the way they skied and other people tried them and really liked them, so the next winter we rented a space and geared up to make them to sell. Our concept from the start has been to make affordable custom skis built around what the customer wants to do with them and the type of skier they are.
We really try to keep the price point to where Crested Butte locals and other ski town locals can afford them, because a lot of the other custom ski companies out there are really pricey. Ours are priced at $750 and we think that’s a fair price. We can make a living selling them at that price, and people who actually ski can afford to buy them! You can visit us at RompSkis.com and use our Ski Builder tool to design your perfect ski.
How do you plan to spend race day, and what tips would you offer to visitors in town to see this stage?
Definitely start at Camp 4 Coffee, which is the best coffee in town or anywhere. We are probably going to go up to watch the finish at Mt. CB again, because we want to be there to see who gets our skis and because we had a good time up there last year. It’s a big circus up there! You can watch the race on the big TVs, and then as the racers come up everybody kind of runs up to the fences to see the finish. That’s our plan again for this year, and we’ll probably head up there by bus earlier in the day or drive up before the roads are closed.
Another good option is the deck of the Brick Oven Pizzeria down in town, which is a really great place to watch the sprints. If you’re in town, I’d also recommend stopping by the Third Bowl ice cream shop which just opened last summer and has great flavors of gourmet ice cream. If you’re more interested in watching the action than being part of the circus, get out along the route somewhere: The Stage 2 route gains a lot of elevation along the way between Montrose and Crested Butte and Mt. CB, passing by the Blue Mesa Reservoir and through Gunnison and Almont. There’s going to be some great spectating potential out there.
Can you describe the vibe around the race for Crested Butte locals and what it means to have the race back again?
It’s just a really great, exciting event, and a great way to show off how awesome Crested Butte can be in the summer, and there are so many cycling fans here that everyone gets really fired up about it. Cycling of every kind is really popular here, with big weekly road rides every Tuesday, and just about everybody in town rides bikes everywhere. It’s definitely been great for Crested Butte, and I think having all the local support makes it even more fun for people visiting because everyone really comes out for the race and it makes for a great atmosphere.
Are you going to try to catch any of the other stages this year?
When you’re in Crested Butte it’s easy to see two stages: we’re also planning to ride our bikes up the pass to check out Stage 3, which starts in Gunnison.
S|I is pleased to have writer Colin Bane authoring A Local’s Look at each stage of our On the Road with USA Pro Challenge tour. His work has been featured in ESPN.com, Westword, The Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine, Aviation Business Journal, Washington City Paper, and Bail Skateboard Culture. Colin is a skateboarder, snowboarder, action sports fan, and proud dad.