Bike media heavy-hitters tour Grand County | SkyHiNews.com

Bike media heavy-hitters tour Grand County

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith

Keith Sanders

The last couple of weeks have been very eventful for mountain biking here in Winter Park.

I was fortunate to be able to participate in this summer's first series of mountain bike specific press trips in Winter Park. The bike specific press trips were the first of their kind here, meaning that the key aspects of mountain biking in Winter Park were showcased. The bike parks at Trestle and Granby Ranch as well as the cross country riding in and around the Town of Winter Park were showns to to bike-specific editors and media. The press trips were organized by Thorpe Marketing, a bike specialty marketing company out of Boulder recently hired by our Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. The list of participants read like a who's who of mountain bike media. Representatives from MTBR.com, Cyclingnews.com, Ski and Skiing magazine and Dirt Rag were just a few of those who attended.

Each press trip consisted of three days of mountain biking. One day at Trestle, one day at Granby Ranch and one day getting a taste of the cross country trails in the Winter Park area. My role was to help guide and showcase the cross country riding both around Winter Park and the hidden gems at Granby Ranch. One thing that was immediately apparent is that three days of mountain biking here barely scratches the surface of what is available to ride.

My route around Winter Park consisted mainly of the classic Tipperary Race Course with a few diversions depending on the group. The Tipperary Race Course (descriptions available at mountainbikecapitalusa.com and epicsingletrack.com) consists of many of the key trails on the west side of highway 40. We did the classic Tipperary Creek climb and descent.

“Our in-town signage is very lacking to nonexistent. We have invested substantial resources in the trails yet the finding the staring points can be difficult. This was a common observation on the press trips and one they deemed as very important.”

Columbines and wildflowers were in full bloom and trail conditions were great. What ride would be complete without the Flume trail? The flow and fun of the Flume trail is often imitated but rarely duplicated.

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As we neared the town of Winter Park we diverted off the race course route after completing WTB with its new reroute done last year. Our journey now took us on the trails built by the Town of Winter Park that bridge town to the main trail system. Sunset Pink's road to trail conversion that was completed last year rode like a fun singletrack. The ride around trail options were a hit in that you could test yourself technically or skip the option altogether. Everyone was very surprised when we came off of the last bit of trail only a minute from downtown Winter Park. Surprisingly one of the favorite sections of trail ridden over the three days were the new trails from Sunset Pink to town. Often I forget just how much fun they are.

Highlights of the cross country ride were things that we may often overlook. We have great learning areas in the Givelo Trail and Northwest Passage. So many trail systems don't have the flatter terrain where you can be introduced to mountain biking. Our trail system allows for a multitude of trail options that allow users to pick and choose their riding experience. The access to the trail system is second to none.

On the flip side there are a couple of key areas that we need to address. The easiest and what may be the most important is signing in town that directs users to trailheads and parking areas. Our in-town signage is very lacking to nonexistent. We have invested substantial resources in the trails yet the finding the staring points can be difficult. This was a common observation on the press trips and one they deemed as very important.

The second comment was around what is an epic or signature ride. Our trails require a bit of knowledge to navigate well. Knowledge could be in the form of the Mountain Bike Capital USA map by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce or from local bike shops. But we don't have the iconic ride outside of the Tipperary Race Course.

Salida has the Monarch Crest, Crested Butte has 401 and Moab has Porcupine Ridge. Users are looking for that iconic experience as part of the decision-making process in determining what mountain bike destination they choose. This is something that not only has very high quality user value but is extremely important in a marketing sense as it can and will determine if Winter Park is chosen as a place to ride. The iconic ride is being addressed in the Master Plan but I can't stress its importance when you factor in experience, marketing and economic impact to our area.

At one of our lunches after the rides the question, "What do your readers want to see?" was asked. The consistent answer was experience. One thing that is for sure is that we do have experience here and it is only getting better.

One last note is that you should be proud of those who made this happen. They did a fantastic professional job!

Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday night at 6 p.m. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.

Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker. Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!

Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at keith@winterparkskirental.com

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