Big Fat Tire: Love makes you do crazy things, like buy a mountain bike
June 22, 2017
Summer time, summer time, sum-sum-summer time! Except for the high alpine, Summit County bike trails are mostly dry. Some are dusty in places. Wildflowers are blooming and, even here in the cool High Country, the shade of green aspen groves littered with columbines feels good. Since summer is so fleeting up here, it's all the sweeter.
Main streets across the county are busy with tourists making their rounds (bless them all — their sales tax pays for many of our trails), but it's so easy to leave the crowds and chaos behind. Just hop on your mountain bike or lace up your shoes and transport yourself to a whole different world that feels a million miles away from traffic, asphalt and Main Street shoppers.
Yes, we're unbelievably lucky to live here. I read of so many other places where mountain bikers write of their local "trail," as in singular. There are not many places that have the mileage and variety of trails that we have right out our door here in Summit. No matter where we live, we're no more than a few minutes from singletrack — miles and miles of singletrack.
We shouldn't take it for granted that we have this incredible resource right out our door. We should always appreciate our blessings and the fact we don't have to refer to our riding options as our local trail (singular). This means being good stewards and good neighbors. ("Oh no, is he going to do it?" "Do what?" "Rant about trail etiquette.")
Well, I'll rant just a little. Here it is: Be nice. Follow the rules. Yield to foot traffic. Yield to uphill bike traffic when descending. Treat our trails like the amazing resources they are, as resources we have to share with a lot of other people. Soapbox rant concluded.
Newbie gear guide
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My fiancé is looking for a mountain bike. She hasn't ridden much in 12 years but would like to get back into it. Her accurate observation: "Everybody has a mountain bike and they're all out riding."
Now, it must be noted that her previous experience with mountain biking wasn't exactly a torrid romance. She loves road biking and has a helluva motor, but mountain biking is a taste that wasn't always her favorite.
That said, love makes you do crazy things and we've been kicking the tires (so to speak) in search of a bike. For her, the sheer variety of bikes is bewildering. Even I have found it isn't easy to guide her through the endless variety of types, sizes, materials, components and so on. Saying, "Just get something that fits, honey," understandably isn't a very satisfying answer to her inquiries. And then we start talking about how much a decent bike costs …
All of this makes me realize just how hard it is to describe the gear, standards and vernacular of mountain biking to a novice.
"You want a trail bike, honey."
"What's a trail bike?"
"Good question. Let me get back to you because the edges are fuzzy on that …"
I find that I take for granted a lot of the information that I've gathered in 35 years of being totally immersed in this sport. When I began, there were just mountain bikes. You rode them on trails, but that didn't make them "trail" bikes. You rode them uphill, but that didn't make them "XC" bikes. You rode them downhill, but that didn't make them "DH" bikes. (I still don't quite know what "all-mountain" means). They were just "mountain bikes" and we rode them everywhere we couldn't find roads.
Hopefully, I'll be a good guide through this process. Mountain biking is a sport that's as much about comfort and confidence as anything else, and if I'm not helpful, I'll just say, "Well, honey, at least we didn't get a tandem."
Poker Ride tomorrow
Breck Bike Week continues this weekend and among the great activities is the Summit Fat Tire Poker Ride tomorrow, presented by Carvers ski and bike shop in downtown Breck.
A little background: The poker ride is the second-longest ongoing mountain bike event in Summit County, after the Fall Classic race. It's a non-competitive ride on the town of Breckenridge trails, during which participants stop at various checkpoints to play games of skill and chance. After playing, riders are dealt a card that counts toward a poker hand at the end for fabulous prizes.
Start time is 9 a.m.-ish at Carvers (203 N. Main St. in Breck). Entry is $30 for adults and $20 for kids younger than 17 years old. A party with food and beverages will follow at Napper Tandy's Irish Pub (110 Lincoln Ave. in Breck) and all proceeds benefit the Summit Fat Tire Society.