Colorado Escapist: The wide world of winter biking in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Colorado Escapist: The wide world of winter biking in Breckenridge

Shawna Henderson
CO Escapist

Want more? Follow Colorado Escapist Shawna Henderson as she takes a mid-winter kayak trip down the frosty Colorado River outside of Glenwood Springs.

It's February and the sun is shining. Do you miss mountain biking already?

As winter rolls on, a tear might roll down your face every time you pass by your bike collecting dust in the garage. Of course you love your skis or snowboard, but that feeling of ripping around banked turns and gliding through the trees on a mountain bike lingers while the snow is three feet deep.

Don't fret — I've found three winter solutions to your biking blues with ski biking, snow biking and fat biking.

What are snow bikes?

I am sure you have seen someone riding a bike on snow at one point and said to yourself, "I'd really like to try that one day."

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In the U.S. and Colorado, we tend to refer to "snow bikes" as a type of bike with fat tires that you can ride on snow. A few of these names are interchangeable; however, an Austrian manufacturer Brenter has even trademarked the name SnowBike.

The original Brenter SnowBike was designed for sitting down. Steering and braking are controlled by small skis you attach to your ski or snowboard boots. These bikes are allowed on chairlifts, have two skis mounted to a frame and are perfect for beginners, especially at sprawling mountains like Breckenridge.

If you are brand new to the sport of snow biking and want to quickly advance into tree riding, I suggest renting a snow bike. If you're looking for a safe, fun way to go biking on the slopes at any age and ability, they're an entry-level introduction and perfect for the family. The learning curve is gentle, even if you've never been skiing or snowboarding before.

What are ski bikes?

Similar to the Brenter SnowBike, a ski bike comes with two skis and can be taken on resort ski runs. Riders use the chairlift to reach the top and descend as you would on a downhill mountain bike.

But the two are far from the same thing. Unlike a snow bike, ski bikes are ridden by standing upright on fixed pedals, or pegs. Devon Lenz, a Colorado local and engineer by trade, followed his passion and started manufacturing ski bikes. He specifically engineered his models to fit comfortably on a chairlift without a cumbersome hook system. Lenz Sport Bicycles are similar to downhill mountain bikes and come equipped with both front and rear shocks. They're handmade from the ground up and mountain tested here in Colorado.

Get out and ride

Whether you've never been on a ski run, lived in the mountains for years, or have simply given up skiing due to wear and tear, I almost guarantee you will fall in love with ski biking or snow biking. They're perfect for people with knee replacements, aging joints and even adaptive riders.

The best way to get started is with a rental and a lesson or tour. I had the pleasure of going out with professional ski-bike guide (as well as downhill mountain-bike instructor) Lindsay Tralene Yost.

For our first lesson, we learned about the mechanics of how the ski bike works. I picked up the basics on "red terrain," otherwise known as the bunny slope, making J-turns and learning how to stop. Remember: ski bikes don't have brakes, and instead rely on edging to stop, just like skiing or riding.

Beyond the basics

Ski biking and snow bikes are made for people who love downhill and cross-country mountain biking. You get a similar sensation riding down the slopes, and once you master the basics there are plenty of ways to push your skills: in the trees, on the steeps, over cliffs — just about anywhere else.

If you are interested in getting into the sport of ski biking, the Purgatory SkiBike Festival comes to Durango Mountain Resort from Feb. 24-26. For more information, contact Randy Kimball at 505-350-9835 or info@americanskibike.org.

Touring Main on fat bikes

Not quite ready to go downhilling on snow? A few local bike shops rent fat bikes and offer fat-bike tours, including Ridden, located in La Cima Mall in downtown Breckenridge. The Ridden tour hits the highlights of Breckenridge before heading downhill on the bike path, eventually ending at Broken Compass Brewery or Breckenridge Distillery, both on Airport Road. The bikes are then shuttled back to the shop while guests enjoy libations.

There are plenty of bike models now made for groomed Nordic trails and singletrack. At Ridden, I had a chance to get on a high-quality carbon fiber frame from Colorado bike manufacturer Borealis. These bikes retail between $3,000 and $5,000 — the tour might as well be a demo for top-of-the-line bikes. The Ridden models also come with Surly bud tires, hydraulic disc brakes and bells from Australia that are so low profile, you'll hardly notice them until they ring.

Along with the drinking tour, the owners at Ridden plan to launch a food and art tour soon. The biking part of the current tour runs from 45 minutes to one hour, with an option to bike all the way to Tiger Road. The ride is 3.5 miles and includes a tour of the facility, plus a sample of the brews or liquors. When you're ready to head home, a driver will shuttle you back to the shop in a courtesy sprinter van.

Ridden launched the fat-bike tours to bring a bit of magic to Breckenridge. Winter biking isn't just for hardcore cyclists — it's for anyone and everyone.

Winter biking rentals and tours

The cure for your biking blues is only a call away.

Ski bike rentals

Rocky Mountain Ski Bikes

This outfitter offers rentals and demos, with Vail pickup available. For more info, see rockymountainskibike.com or call (970) 401-3045.

Lenz Sports

If you’re on the Front Range, pick up a demo bike from the factory north of Denver. For more info, including pricing, see lenzsport.com or email sales@zinncycles.com.

Snow bike rentals

Rocky Mountain SnowBikes

If you’re heading to Breckenridge, get in touch with Roger Hollenbeck, a dealer with 20 years experience in the Brenter SnowBike industry. Visit him online at rogerssnowbikerentals.com or call (970) 389-7006.

Keystone Adventure Point

Keystone is the only resort in Summit County with onsite snow bike rentals. To find out more, call Adventure Point at (970) 496-4386.

Fat bike tours

Ridden

The Breckenridge shop leads tours through downtown, from the Main Street shop to Breckenridge Distillery or Broken Compass Brewery. For more info, including pricing and reservations, call (970) 453-2055

Breck Bike Guides

Found across Main Street from Ridden, Breck Bike Guides leads fat-bike tours throughout the winter. To find out more, call the main office at (970) 393-9000.

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