Fraser Valley spring mountain biking options abound
March 26, 2015
I sure saw a lot of people out biking the last couple of weeks. Warm weather felt more like summer than winter.
Snow is melting and roads go from snow packed to mud to dirt and back again. Many of us have already taken the journey to drier climates to feel the dirt under our wheels while the warm spring sun beats down on our chilled winter bodies. Often we find ourselves anxious to get out on the bike here in the valley.
If you don't have a fat tire bike, don't worry we have a lot of options to ride now. Such as riding the Fraser River Trail, county roads and Forest Service roads when snow gives way to dirt I thought I would share a few of my favorite early spring routes.
Most of my routes are near Fraser, I also have a couple not far from Granby. These are not secret rides by any means. I simply find a county road that has a bit of seclusion and a touch of climbing. It might be Cottonwood Pass to Hot Sulphur and back or the Fraser to Granby Trail to the base of Granby Ranch. Some days will find me in Winter Park Highlands navigating the maze of roads scattered thoughtout that area or an out and back on County Road 8.
“I always ride with fenders in the spring. ... Not only do they keep most of the mud off of me, they keep much of the mud off of key parts of the bikes such as the cranks, pedals, front derailleur and associated parts.”
One of my favorite rides is up the road to Meadow Creek Reservoir. This road has very light traffic and tends to not be too muddy. You can find a bit of seclusion from cars and spring winds as few people live in that area and ridges block the winds. Another bonus is that it is easily accessible from Winter Park, Fraser and Tabernash.
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From Highway 40 turn east on County Road 83 (Devil's Thumb Road) just east of Tabernash. Just after you go over the Fraser River turn left onto County Road 84. You will go over Hurd Creek and then stay left on 84 as it intersects County Road 841. The road begins with a gentle climb, instilling a false sense of confidence. Beaver ponds are scattered throughout the stream just below you. It is not uncommon to see moose as they seem to like vegetation along the stream.
After you cross a bridge the road will tip up a bit. Winter's legs let you know that their strength of last summer is still hibernating, yet to be awakened by the early season rides. The road continues to climb with the steepest part yet to come. You round two switchbacks with one last steep section that tops out at the parking area for the High Lonesome Hut (remember this for a great summer ride). Most days I tend to turn around here. You can continue to the end of the road maintenance, which is a couple of miles higher up.
Spring riding on dirt roads is often the muddiest time of the year. This not only creates wear on your bike but can cover you as well if you aren't prepared. There are a few things I do to keep most of the mud off as well as reduce the amount of wear on my bike.
I always ride with fenders in the spring. This is probably the best investment I have made for spring riding. Not only do they keep most of the mud off of me but they keep much of the mud off of key parts of the bikes such as the cranks, pedals, front derailleur and associated parts. Today's fenders are quick and easy to attach. I tend to leave mine on at this time of year because snow melt can change conditions dramatically from day to day.
Water and mud can do a number on the moving parts. Carry a bit of chain lube with you just in case you need to keep things moving freely. Don't let the warm sun fool you, you can and will get wet from the spray of the road. I tend to wear long finger gloves and wool socks. That can make all the difference in staying warm vs. getting cold.
Wash your bike after every ride. Think of this step as part of the care and feeding of your bike. Don't wait until the mud dries, wash it immediately. You will find most of the mud will come off easily when it is still wet. If need be scrub it with a brush to get to those hard to reach or stubborn places. I find that mud and dirt are main reasons that your bike does not shift as well as it could or ride like it did new. Wipe down your bike after you have washed it. This will dry it a bit faster. The entire process of washing your bike should take about 10 minutes from start to finish. I tend to wait to lube the chain and moving parts until I am getting ready for my next ride.
Our trails will open soon enough. Until then, get out whenever you can.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.