On Saturday morning I rode singletrack trails with Winter Park resident Suzy Robbins.
We started out from her house and rode through the Leland Creek area and passed the Denver Water Board property that abuts Grand Park to the north.
We ride to the boundary and look out to this land that will hopefully have singletrack running through it. The town of Winter Park is working with the Denver Water Board to build singletrack trails.
However, right now there is no public access. Once the contract for building trails is approved the town will be looking for volunteers to help build the trails, according to James Shockey, town planner.
We continue riding on Sunset Pink and into the trail system meeting up with D4. Robbins rides effortlessly through the rocky terrain and occasionally catches air from rock rolling and dropping. I work hard to keep up. We see a moose dart off through the trees, and a few other riders.
At the halfway point of the ride, we turn onto Leap Frog, where I get a lesson on rock rolling. At first I'm pretty nervous, but Robbins shows me how to stay behind my seat post and stay loose on the handlebars. I drop off my first rock and I'm able to move my body behind the seat, I think I got it.
As we come off the trail the view is east to the Continental Divide. On her early rides, she watches the sun rise over the mountains each morning.
"It's why I live here. I'm excited they are building new singletracks and that is why I'm excited about GMBA (Grand County's mountain biking organization).
Robbins rides downhill, too.
She learned downhill riding by taking clinics with women at different resorts. She recommends anyone who is interested in downhill riding to take a lesson. One camp offered at Winter Park Resort is the Dirt Series, a weekend camp by women bikers from Whistler.
There is something to be said about taking a lesson or to be coached from someone you don't know, she said.
"The coaches travel to other resorts. I highly recommend the camp. It made me a better rider."
She took the camp in Whistler and "it's a supportive group of women".
"The camp does wonders for your psyche. You learn the mechanics of downhill riding."
Robbins has made friends through the camps and just riding in the county.
"I've met so many wonderful people and we ride together all the time. I don't even know what these people do for a living - and it doesn't matter," she said.
She rides for the love of being on her bike and riding, and not necessarily to race.
"My husband (and bike mechanic) Doug always says 'never miss an opportunity to go on a ride.' If I'm having a bad day, I can sit home and feel sorry for myself or ride. Every time I get out and ride, regardless of rain or sleet, I'm glad I did it."
Robbins rides downhill and cross country for personal satisfaction. However, this year she is considering downhill racing.
For now, at the beginning of every season she has a plan for how it w ill go and it starts with progressive riding.
It starts with remembering the mechanics of small jumps and gaining confidence for larger jumps, she said.
"You make the drops and get comfortable with speed. I see myself progress every season."
Cross country riding helps with my downhill riding and vice versa, she said.
Robbins recommends starting on something small, practice body position, and letting your body flow with the bike.
"My goal is to ride every day, but if I can just get six in, I'm happy."
The day our ride, Robbins was downhill riding and after taking a jump, a gust of wind threw her off the trail in mid-air, and she couldn't control her bike. She broke her wrist.
"It was one of those freak accidents," she said. "In 12 years of biking I've never broken a bone."
She had surgery on Thursday and will be able to bike on non-technical trails in two to three weeks. But no downhill riding for two to three months.
Kristen Lodge can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610