By Nicole Formosa/Originally featured in the June 2013 issue of Bike
Photo by Craig Grant
As the sun crests a majestic Colorado moun¬tain range on a bright sum¬mer morning, campers nestled inside tents set up in a large, open meadow slowly begin to stir.
A couple hundred self-described freaks, all connected by a shared passion for Yeti Cycles, swap stories about trails or new parts for their beloved bikes as they fuel up for the day's adventure—a group ride along sections of the state's sweetest high-alpine terrain.
Hours later, on the bus back to camp, tales from the trail circulate as excitement builds for the night's inevitable revelry. By the time the sun dips behind the curtain of the towering '14ers,' the beer is flowing and 'Stupid Human Tricks' are in full swing. The evening's entertainment typically involves booze-fueled barrel races, a bike toss or grown men struggling to stay upright as they mash the pedals of toddler-sized bikes on a grass racecourse.
This is the annual Yeti Tribe Gathering—the pin¬nacle of organized rides for Yeti owners—and a weekend so memorable it's the sole reason why some tribe members plunk down the cash for an SB66 or an ASR in the first place.
"The unique thing is when you get there, ev¬erybody's got a Yeti," said David Strouse, arguably the biggest Yeti freak of the bunch. "It's kind of like when two dogs meet, you want to go around and check everyone's out."
Strouse handpicked his first ASR from the fac¬tory back when the frames were still made in Colorado and now owns a stable of nine. To his knowledge, he is the only person to have attended every U.S. Tribe Gathering since they began at Snowmass in Aspen in 2002. And he's even traveled to the U.K. for the British version.
The allure of the Yeti Tribe runs so deep that the gathering long ago transcended the borders of Colorado. Fans or distribu¬tors in Great Britain, New Zealand, Europe and Israel now organize similar week¬ends on their local trails.
Yeti freaks live and breathe the brand and the lifestyle it epitomizes. "A lot of people ride a bicycle," Strouse said by phone from his home. "To us, it's a daily thing. My SB66 is in the back of my pickup truck right now. It's only 40 degrees, but we have a ride planned."