Winter Slopes Melt into Mountain Biker Paradise
You’ve put away the winter sports gear, yet you want to enjoy those mountains a bit longer. Spring and summer mountain biking is the answer.
“If you get the chance to ride in the mountains, a lot of the routes covered by snow the rest of the year are now clear,” said Mark Eller, communication director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
IMBA is headquartered in Boulder, CO, and it has, since 1987, encouraged mountain biking as a low impact sport, volunteer trail upkeep, cooperation between trail users and trail management.
Many ski resorts have expanded to offer trails for mountain bikers.
“They offer lift chair access. [You] get towed up and ride down with gravity.”
Early on, mountain biking at ski resorts was for expert riders only, Eller said, but that’s changed, and resorts now offer rides for beginner through advanced.
Temperatures in the mountains are cooler, so it’s a great way to escape heat trapped in valleys and to explore new terrain. And you’ll stay cool even on a warm day.
“When it’s stiflingly hot, cruise along at 10 mph. Make your own cool summer breeze,” Eller said.
Mountain biking, at any time of the year, offers the chance to get away from the city, find solitude and view spectacular landscapes. Maybe you’ll spot deer or waterfowl.
“It’s a good time of year to discover new places you’ve never ridden,” Eller said.
If you’re looking for a place to ride near your home or vacation spot, Eller suggests checking IMBA’s list of destination rides or their online trail guide.
“Park City is the only gold level ride center,” Eller said. “It’s one of the very best places you can find for mountain biking – both resorts and through the Park City area. It has done an incredible job of [including] resort-based riding along with riding on public and private lands. It’s family friendly, and you can travel from one area to another almost seamlessly.
Other ski resorts offering spring and summer mountain biking include Taos Ski Valley, which has opened its slopes to mountain bikers for the first time this year and Mt. Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl.
Plan for your ride by carrying extra water, food and clothing. Like autumn riding, spring and summer rides present challenges.
“Summer thunderstorms can crop up unexpectedly. Be prepared and somewhat knowledgeable about thunder and lightning,” Eller said.
Although temperatures may be cooler in the mountains, bring and drink plenty of water.
“In hot weather, keep an eye on hydration.”
The IMBA recommends the following guidelines for summer mountain biking:
- Contact local riding clubs to learn about trails and organized rides.
- Wear a reflective jacket and bring a light source if you are taking a late afternoon or evening ride.
- Carry a lightweight rain jacket because summer thunderstorms occur unexpectedly.
- Bring a lightweight first-aid kit in case of scrapes or cuts.
- Always stay on existing trails and obey posted signs pertaining to bike traffic. This helps maintain trail integrity and the number of trails that remain open to riders.
- Pass hikers and horses cautiously, and always to the left. Let them know you’re approaching with a bell or greeting. They have the right of way.
Useful mountain bike links:
- Basic rules of the mountain bike trail: http://www.imba.com/about/rules-trail
- Find a local mountain bike club: http://www.imba.com/near-you/clubs
- Online trail guide: http://www.MTBProject.com