Fraser Valley mountain biking has come a long way | SkyHiNews.com

Fraser Valley mountain biking has come a long way

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith

These are exciting times for mountain biking. We have seen new trails and there is a vision for an amazing trail system. Recently Winter Park was named the No. 3 mountain bike destination by Singletracks.com.

It has been a long time since this type of excitement has been seen in Winter Park. There has been a lot of effort to make that type or distinction possible. It doesn't happen overnight but takes years to reach that quality of experience.

Roughly 25 years ago several people met in the Bank of Winter Park. It was there that the first vision for mountain biking began. Originally the thought was mountain biking would create a summer economy in a struggling town. Mountain biking was in its infancy. There was no trail system, no signs, no maps; we barely new what singletrack was.

Bikes were much different, there were no shocks, and braking was more of concept than reality. The foundation for the current trail system grew from the efforts of that first meeting. Winter Park was on the short list of mountain bike destinations that included Moab, Crested Butte and Mammoth. There was so much enthusiasm that at one point the "Thursday Night Ride" drew over 100 people each week including many who would drive up from the Front Range to join in on the fun. The basis of the trail system was that of opportunity, not design. Trails were predominately old logging roads and in few cases actual trails.

Fast forward to today. Up until two years ago the trail system had remained virtually unchanged from the original trail system yet the bikes and mountain bike experience has changed dramatically. Riders have greater skills, technology has made mountain biking easier and more fun. Trail design has changed from one of convenience to that of planning and design.

I remember when riding the Tipperary Race Course was an epic ride and one of great challenge. That is no longer the case today. Trails are evolving to meet mountain bikers' needs and desires. Just look at the new trials from the Town of Winter Park to the main trail system. What other communities have world class singletrack from your doorstep?

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Vision is being realized to create the highest quality mountain bike experience for all levels or riders. The trail system of the future will be one that creates a much wider variety of options for everyone. Signage is being put in place both in the national forest and in our communities. We have a lust for singletrack and can never get enough. The excitement for mountain biking has returned.

Who would have envisioned the popularity of fat tire bikes then? Now you see them on snow-covered trails throughout the winter. This new use is not only fun but one that will make everyone take a new view of what mountain bikes can do. It also lets you wonder what will bikes be able to do in the next five or 10 years.

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is promoting mountain biking at a level that we have not seen. New websites, maps — printed and online — events and advertising all help drive mountain bike visits, which are a key part of our economy.

There is still a lot of work ahead. Planning group rides, trail work, marketing, trail planning and design as well as many others. The last two years have had some great improvements and changes. It will be fun and exciting to see what the future brings.

Looking to get involved or learn more? Join Grand Mountain Bike Alliance on Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. in Beaver Village Lodge for our monthly meeting.

Group rides

Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western in Winter Park does a weekly group ride on Friday's at 6 p.m. (summer only). Intermediate and above skill level. Come join in! 970-726-5988

Looking for more information? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com.

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 hiim at keith@winterparkskirental.com.

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