Mountain biking season returns to Summit County this weekend as winter fat-tire biking invades Copper Mountain Resort for the third annual WinterBike night race Saturday. The event is part of two days of free fat-bike demos and is the first race in the Leadville Winter Bike series benefiting the Cloud City Wheelers — the Leadville chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) — and Lake County trail building projects.
“It’s a really cool scene,” said Copper Mountain communications manager Austyn Williams, who described winter fat-tire biking as a growing trend. “It’s exciting this year that we’re offering free demos and rentals during the day.”
Organizers expect around 150 riders of all ages and abilities.
“The race is catered towards anyone who enjoys riding a bike,” Sterling Mudge, chair of the Cloud City Wheelers, said.
The competition kicks off at 6 p.m. on a 2½-lap, 10-mile course through Copper’s three villages and onto the resort’s Nordic ski trail system. Riders will need headlamps to compete, as the course heads away from the villages and all the way to the base of Resolution Chair.
“Bright lights definitely help,” Mudge said.
Guests can take the bikes for a free test ride on the course during the day but will need to pay a rental fee to rent during competition. The $20 race registration fee goes to the Cloud City Wheelers biking association. Registration is available only on the day of the event and will be at the West Lake Overlook in Center Village — near the ice rink and zip line — from 4-5:45 p.m.
There will also be a shorter kids’ race through the Center village starting at 5 p.m. for kids 11 and younger. Guests and participants are encouraged to stick around for post-race fireworks and an after-party at the Incline restaurant and bar.
‘another way to play’
Fat-tire biking continues to be a growing winter sport in Summit County. A number of area rental shops — including Wilderness Sports and Rebel Sports in Frisco — have added them to their rental lineup this season. The bikes feature 4-inch wide balloon tires — roughly twice the size of standard mountain bike tires — made to push through snowy or muddy conditions.
“I believe it’s definitely an up-and-coming sport,” Kevin Kahle of Rebel Sports said. “It’s opened the doors for another way to play in the snow. Everyone’s been digging it. They’ve gone out just about every day when the sun’s out.”
Those interested can demo fat bikes, provided by Borealis, Boo Bikes, Reeb, Wilderness Sports and Rebel Sports, available all day Saturday and Sunday.
Also this weekend
January is National Ski Areas Association National Safety Awareness Month. To celebrate, Copper Mountain’s Safety Fest will take place in the Burning Stones Plaza in Center Village though Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20. National Ski Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service, Summit County Rescue Group, Woodward at Copper and other groups will be on hand to provide information on backcountry awareness, national forest access and Copper Mountain’s safety initiatives.
Safety Fest will feature daily avalanche dog demonstrations in Burning Stones Plaza at 11 a.m. and in Copper’s West Village at 12:30 p.m. A Flight for Life helicopter will land at Patrol Headquarters, located above Excelerator Lift, on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m. Patrol Headquarters and Timberline Patrol Hut will host an open house with free hot cocoa throughout the weekend and the remainder of the month of January. Visitors are also invited to sign up and shadow Copper’s Ski Patrol in daily sweeps to close the mountain at 4 p.m.
For more information, including a full event schedule, visit www.coppercolorado.com.