Mountain bike season kicks off early with lower-elevation Summit County trails drying out
With Memorial Day this year comes the full-fledged start to mountain bike season in Summit County, and local leaders are excited for a strong summer after a 2020 when the community was affected by novel coronavirus regulations.
“That’s what I’m exactly excited about: the return to normal,” Maverick Sports Promotions Event Director Jeff Westcott said Friday, May 28. “This season is pretty much a 180 (degree turnaround) from last year, when we could only proceed according to the current guidelines. This year, we were encouraged to plan for normal and scale back if necessary. And that’s a different vibe — ‘if necessary.’”
Westcott’s summer slate of cycling events will start with the Frisco Roundup, the first race of the Summit Mountain Challenge, on June 9 at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. From there, the Summit Mountain Challenge will have five more events through the Aug. 25 Peaks Trail Time Trial. Westcott also will bring back two summer sporting staples that were canceled last year: the Firecracker 50 on July 4 and the Fall Classic on Sept. 13.
Westcott said registration for the Firecracker 50 is already ahead of where it was at this time in 2019 with — as of last week — 200 people signed up.
Westcott commended the town of Breckenridge for its support and partnership with the Firecracker 50, which again will be integrated with the town’s Fourth of July celebration as the start of the race begins the Main Street parade.
“It symbolizes a lot,” Westcott said. “It symbolizes that return to normal … and the fact that the town has wrapped their arms around loving this event. There’s such a great symbiotic working relationship with the town. Everybody gets what this means for the town. They have a very can-do event mentality, whether it’s this or Pro Challenge or other big events. They really get it.”
Westcott said registration for the Summit Mountain Challenge is slightly ahead of 2019, though he expects a typical last-minute surge in sign-ups ahead of the first event.
“I think people are psyched to go to parties disguised as bike races again,” Westcott said.
This year’s edition of the Explore Summit Bike Guide is now on newsstands, complete with a new hiking guide and QR codes to watch video guides. Access a digital version at SummitDaily.com/magazines.
Westcott and Ben Ferrante, president of the Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance, agreed lower-elevation trails in Summit are drying up and ready to ride about two weeks earlier than normal. Ferrante said that is thanks to a low snow year combined with sun and rain that has helped to melt out trails.
Ferrante and James Welch, the vice president of the nonprofit mountain biking organization, said trails riding well include Oro Grande, the Dillon Dump trails and Snake River Bluffs in Dillon; popular trails in Summit Cove such as Aqueduct, Soda Ridge, Hippo and Blair Witch; and Side Door, X10U8 and Minnie Mine in Breckenridge.
“It should be a great weekend in the county for getting out and being on a bike,” Ferrante said.
Ferrante said the organization has experienced membership growth this winter and spring, now up to 200 members with a goal of reaching 300 by Aug. 1. He and the membership have positioned the group to be the preeminent entity working in conjunction with land managers and partners — like the town of Breckenridge, Colorado Adventure Guides and Rocky Mountain Underground — to be the leading voice and caretaker of the local mountain biking community.
After a successful season-opening dig day with Rocky Mountain Underground and Colorado Adventure Guides last week on the B-Line trail in Breckenridge — and work removing snow from Barney Flow — the group will host its season kick-off event at 4 p.m. June 4 at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area.
The group also will host up to a dozen coed and women’s mountain biking skills clinics this summer in partnership with Colorado Adventure Guides. There will be more trail work days this summer too, the next is a Twilight Dig Day in Breckenridge to work on the Blair Witch section of the Colorado Trail on June 8.
Ferrante said the group will help the U.S. Forest Service improve the Moab, 7 of 9 and Power Hair trails on Tenderfoot Mountain in Dillon later this summer. Further work on the expanded Tenderfoot Ride Center is pending public agency and land manager approval later this year. Ferrante expects an update in six weeks.
“We are excited to hit the ground running strong this year and do a lot more than what we were allowed to last year as far as events and trail work,” Welch said.
A racer ascends during the Wheeler Stage of the 2019 Breck Epic at Breckenridge Ski Resort in Breckenridge. | Photo by Antonio Olivero / firstname.lastname@example.org
A foursome of Summit County’s most passionate mountain bikers share their favorite rides:
Favorite white-knuckle downhill
• Jewels Olsen: Nope!
• Bryce Britton: Bakers Tank
• Christine Britton: Powerline
• Kristin Schwarck: Keystone Bike Park
Fave 1-hour loop
• Jewels: Mix-and-match singletrack on Tenderfoot
• Bryce: X10U8 to Minnie Mine to Back Door to Side Door to Prospect to Fall Classic to Slalom and to the Flumes, back to parked car
• Christine: Wellington to X10U8 to Minnie Mine to Fall Classic to Hard Luck to the Flumes
• Kristin: Blair Witch
Fave trail to kick your butt
• Jewels: Little French
• Bryce: Climb up to Powerline and then down to Bakers Tank
• Christine: Wheeler to Miners
• Kristin: Georgia Pass
Fave trail for the views
• Jewels: Guyot and French Pass
• Bryce: Lenawee, by far
• Christine: Red Trail on the Colorado Trail, or Lenawee
• Kristin: Georgia Pass
Fave fall foliage ride
• Jewels: Gold Dust
• Bryce: Aspen Alley on a weekday
• Christine: Aspen Alley, obviously, it’s a classic
• Kristin: Aspen Alley
Fave Downhill trail at Keystone Bike Park
• Jewels: Mosquito Coast
• Bryce: Money
• Christine: Money
• Jewels: Colorado Trail between West Ride and Tiger Road
• Bryce: Too many options
• Christine: Bakers Tank
Fave technical rocks-and-roots ascent
• Jewels: Colorado Trail from Copper to Frisco
• Bryce: Colorado Trail’s Miners Creek section
• Christine: Searle Pass out of Copper Mountain
Fave flow trail
• Jewels: Aspen Alley
• Bryce: Barney Ford, top to bottom
• Christine: Hard Luck
• Kristin: Slalom
Fave trail for sunset
• Jewels: Top of Red Trail
• Bryce: Nightmare on Baldy
• Christine: Tenderfoot
• Kristin: Colorado Trail above Tiger Run
Fave trail to impress your out-of-town friends
• Jewels: Searle Pass (best for wildflowers)
• Bryce: Turks to Sallie Barber to Nightmare on Baldy to Pinball Alley to Bakers Tank to Aspen Alley, and grab a beer back in town
• Christine: Loop Side Door, Hard Luck and Slalom
• Kristin: Side Door
Fave trail for beginners
• Jewels: Sage and Snake River Bluffs
• Bryce: Turk’s to B&B
• Christine: Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area
• Kristin: Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area
Fave trail to catch air on
• Bryce: Side Door or B-Line
• Christine: Side Door
• Kristin: Side Door
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