Chasing mountain bike season
October 20, 2016
As snow began to appear on the nearby peaks in Winter Park I knew mountain bike season was slowly coming to an end, so I decided to chase the season as long as I could for both downhill and cross country. Many XC trails are still fine to ride in Grand County, but are weather dependent. I wanted to see how many new rides and closing weekends of downhill parks I could get in before winter to avoid the inevitable Colorado mud season blues.
I started off with Trestle's closing weekend on September 23-25. The closing weekend saw snow and cold temperatures, which made it that much more exciting. I always try to brake less and work on speed control and this was no problem considering I couldn't feel my brake fingers until around noon each day. Cruising through the trails in the morning you would see many people pulled over trying to warm up their hands, but morale stayed high despite the weather as many riders discussed how excited they were for ski season.
Next was Granby Ranch's closing weekend October1-2. The weather was great and the bike park was quiet. We rode on Friday and then headed down to Poncha Springs to conquer the Monarch Crest trail. It was snowy on many XC trails in Grand County so we figured it was the perfect weekend to make the trip. The ride was beautiful and worth every minute of driving.
The Monarch Crest Trail is about 35 miles of singletrack with a good portion of it above tree line. Throughout the ride you ascend 2,281 feet and descend 6,133 feet. It is a point-to-point ride that requires a shuttle. There are shuttle services, but we set our own, which is very easy if you meet in Poncha Springs. Although it is mostly singletrack, you encounter a little bit of everything: singletrack, double track, fire road, gravel, and chances are—a pinch-flat.
Finally, it was time for Angelfire's closing weekend on October 15-16. We made the trek down to New Mexico on Thursday evening to car camp. Throughout the day on Friday the town of Angelfire began to fill up with green license plates as many other Coloradans had the same idea as us.
Friday had incredible weather and a small crowd at the park. The trails were loose and dusty, but the terrain was great. Saturday and Sunday the lift was closed early due to very high winds, but we got in as much riding as physically possible before 60 mph gusts rolled in.
The rest of the mountain bike season, for me, will contain Grand County singletrack, super secret downhill shuttle trails and, hopefully, the Whole Enchilada, or at least a version of it depending on weather in Moab.