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Winter Park is Mountain Bike Capital

There has been a lot going on with mountain biking over the last several months. Not just with riding but also the behind the scenes efforts that give us the ability to have one of the best places in the world to ride. I thought I might do a quick recap of a few of the things that have been going on. I know there has been a lot more done that will simply not fit into the space available for this column. Let’s start with the competitive side of things. We have an official high school club this year, the Middle Park Mountain Bike Club. The club had a very successful year training and competing in the Colorado High School League. While our high school athletes had a great year the club was busy organizing itself to provide a long term quality experience for many years to come. The club is now a nonprofit and has already starting looking at next year in order to improve the experience.

The Epic Singletrack Series continues to be one of the premier mountain bike cross country race series in the US. While if flies “under the radar” locally the participation numbers of this event are very high drawing hundreds or racers at each of the six races throughout the summer. This is due to the excellent race course design and execution of the races.

Granby Ranch hosted the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League for race number three of the four race series. This race brought 900 racers and their support staff (which numbers around 2000) to Granby Ranch to experience some of the best riding the high school series has seen.

On the trails side of things there was quite a bit accomplished and planning achieved for the future. Grand Mountain Bike Alliance in partnership with Headwaters Trails Alliance started the first Tuesday evening trail work projects. Quite a few volunteers put in hundreds of hours to maintain and improve the trail system. Look for this to continue next year.

Finding a long-term funding solution should be a high priority goal for the community as trails and outdoor recreation are one of the very reasons we live here and our guests- who are the major driver of our economy- come here.

The USFS announced a plan to improve the trail system in the area immediately west of the Town of Winter Park. This was the result of years of planning and efforts by a multitude of trail users and government agencies. The USFS is completing the Environmental Assessment required for the plan and will announce the final decision sometime around the first of the year. Grand Mountain Bike Alliance was largely created in order to spearhead an effort to create a master trails plan for the Winter Park area and eventually all of Grand County. That master trails plan is now created for the Fraser Valley by the Headwaters Trails Alliance. Headwaters Trails Alliance has been working with the BLM on the trail system known as the Phases. These efforts are resulting in a long term vision for that trail system in terms of quality of trails and long-term sustainability of the system.

Let’s not forget the efforts of the Town of Winter Park and the trails it has provided for all of us. Most of us may not realize that trails like Yankee Doodle, Sundog, Sunset Pink and others are built and maintained by the Town of Winter Park.

While our thoughts shift to winter others are thinking of next summer. Headwaters Trails Alliance is busy writing grants and raising money for trail improvements, building and maintenance. This organization is tasked with providing our key product for the summer economy yet it is horribly underfunded. Thankfully the Town of Winter Park and Fraser supply some funding for some of the projects and Grand County provides some revenue as well. However those efforts fall far short of what is needed. Finding a long-term funding solution should be a high priority goal for the community as trails and outdoor recreation are one of the very reasons we live here and our guests- who are the major driver of our economy- come here.

Ski season isn’t quite here, so don’t put that bike away just yet….

Looking for more information? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber.

Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach me at keith@winterparkskirental.com.

Related Story: Middle Park Mtn Biking Club, mountain bike economy