Another year of being a bonafide mountain freak |

Another year of being a bonafide mountain freak

Richard Chittick
Summit Daily/Richard ChittickTaking in the view of the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness with my friend Ryan made for the best birthday of my life.

According to the National Off-Road Bicycling Association (NORBA), I turned 31 Thursday.

It was a rule that NORBA’s governing body, USA Cycling, came up with to level the playing field with its members all having birthdays scattered throughout the year. As such, everybody ages up on the same day – the first day of the year.

So a hearty “happy birthday” to all of the bike racers out there in the county, and here’s to another productive year.

As a devoted mountain freak, I always like to take a moment to look back on my outdoor accomplishments, so here’s my best mountain-moments of 2003:

n Jan. 26: My own personal seventh annual Super Bowl Sunday extravaganza consisted of snowshoeing to the top of 10,199-foot-tall Orphir Mountain, the forested hill behind the Summit County Commons in Frisco.

n May 6: For the first time, I rode the Poison Spider Mesa/Portal Trail loop in Moab with several friends. I got to experience firsthand why this is considered one of the most dangerous mountain bike rides in the country when I hiked my bike through a section of trail that includes exposed, 200-foot drops.

n July 13: I traversed the Tenmile Range for the first time, starting at Copper Mountain, hiking over Peak’s 6, 5 and 4, and finishing in Frisco, using a unique trail shuttle service known as the Summit Stage. A week later, I used a similar link of bus stops to connect Copper to Breckenridge, bagging Peak’s 9 and 10 while I was at it.

n Aug. 2: I celebrated my actual birthday on top of 13,380-foot-tall Precarious Peak in the Elk Range. To support the rumor that Colorado’s thirteeners can be harder than its fourteeners, I peeled a piece of the mountain off in my hands and set off a two-ton rockslide that nearly took me with it. To this day, it is the scariest and most difficult climb I have ever done, and made for a remarkable way to turn 30.

n Sept. 7: In my first attempt at a mountain bike stage race, I competed in the Fall Classic, a two-day, three-race event held in Breckenridge by Maverick Sports. Despite racing through three hours of pouring rain in the third stage and finishing with an overall standing near the back of the sport class, it is one of the best mountain bike races I’ve ever done.

n Oct. 18-19: Never before this weekend had I experienced that unique buzz that can only be associated with staying awake for 24 hours. That all changed with the ninth annual Honda 24 Hours of Moab, where I helped the Arapaho Warriors Cycling Club make it through the night as their tech support.

n Oct. 27-Nov. 12: In a blitz of early season skiing, I skied six of Colorado’s opening days, including an early season powder day down at Wolf Creek Resort. The effort it took to get to Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, Wolf Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge really helped me get in shape for the real ski season, which should begin in three weeks.

n Dec. 14: And if that wasn’t enough, I had the blessing of my editor and co-workers to be late for work when Vail opened Blue Sky Basin for the season. Honestly, I don’t know how to put the day into words, so I won’t.

n And that’s 2003. I don’t expect 2004 to be any less exciting, so I’ll see you all at the trailhead, on top of the mountain, at the start line, or anywhere else you might expect to find a mountain freak like me.

Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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