Big Fat Tire: It’s all out there, now go and ride it
August 31, 2017
"We can go mountain biking right out our door!" That was my fiancée Rebecca after our first ride on her brand-new Julianna Furtado mountain bike on Monday. Rebecca grew up in Greeley, spent parts of her youth in Summit County, then moved out east for 12 years to pursue her career. She came back to Colorado about a year ago, which is when we met. She has a pretty good idea of how most people in this country live — in large cities, divorced from things like trails a couple hundred yards from their front door. The vast majority of the mountain biking population of the U.S. of A., do not hop on their bikes out their front door and hit singletrack before they've even warmed up. Most people have to load their bike onto their car and drive varied distances to satisfy their dirt addiction.
Rebecca is doing a good job of reminding me how lucky we are here. She's still a bit overwhelmed by the close-at-hand recreation opportunities. "Sweatheart, you've gotten so used to it," she often tells me as we walk (or now ride) along our neighborhood trails. Yes, I've gotten used to it, but I don't take it for granted. I think back to the long process of trail advocacy and the many people who spent seemingly endless hours in meetings participating on commissions working with elected officials, planners and agency staff.
We have it pretty good in Summit. While there are many other communities with great trail systems and proactive government policies, Summit County and especially the town of Breckenridge were pioneers and provided a template for other communities to follow. I am always thankful to those people who put and continue to put their time, heart and soul into participating in creating and sustaining our amazing trail system.
Back to my lovely fiancée. She has a new bike. We've only done one real ride together so far, but she already had a name for it (her) — RB. The name refers to the bikes royal blue color. RB is also her initials. Rebecca has never really bonded with mountain biking. She had mountain biked a limited amount 12 years ago when she was into adventure racing, but she never really bonded with it. Her last ride 12 years ago ended in a nasty crash and her on-trail experiences with mountain bikers haven't always been positive. She's been brushed off by bikers who seem to think she'd better get out of their way lest she interrupt them getting their DH on.
That she is willing to give mountain biking another try — mostly because she knows how much a part of my life it is and we want to spend time together outdoors — is a state of affairs that is fraught with possibilities both positive and negative. I now am going to be the main mentor for a rank novice (albeit one with a strong athletic base) who isn't instantly in love with the sport. Most people have lots of suggestions; clinics, techniques and probably what I'll hear most of all, DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!! Yes, romantic relationships aren't always the best environment for teaching, but we have to start somewhere so we'll see how it goes. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
The leaves are beginning to turn. It's one of my favorite times of the year, but it's so fleeting. We get maybe two weeks of peak autumn colors and then it's over.
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One way to extend the season is to descend to lower elevations where autumn comes a little bit later. Fall trips are a favorite of mine. Areas around Buena Vista and Salida usually turn a week or two later than Summit. Trails in the Vail Valley like Son of Middle Creek and Buffher Creek and Lost Lake have amazing aspen groves. Many of the trails around Steamboat offer outstanding singletrack through the golden tunnels. It's all out there.
Go out and enjoy, even if you have to play hooky; it doesn't last long and it'll be another 12 months before it happens again.
Mike Zobbe is lifelong gearhead and longtime mountain biker originally from Indianapolis. He serves as vice president of the Summit Fat Tire Society, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to access, maintenance and stewardship on local trails.