SolVista Basin expands downhill biking options
July 18, 2008
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch is geared up to ride the latest trend in two-wheeled fun ” downhill biking.
Chairlift-assisted downhill mountain biking, the fastest growing aspect of mountain biking in the U.S., is the newest offering at SolVista.
While the new lift-assisted amenity at SolVista is catching on, Granby Ranch continues to offer cross-country mountain biking in association with the downhill mountain biking on its diverse trail system.
“Granby Ranch is proud to offer at SolVista Basin one of the few downhill mountain biking facilities in Colorado,” says Charlie Mayfield, vice president of operations at SolVista Basin.
The ski area has stepped up and invested in the new sport craze by enhancing its lift chairs so they can carry bikes up the mountain. It has also hired MTC (Mountain Trail Concepts) to build additional trails and terrain features, as well as provide instruction and general expertise.
Matt Thompson, a top-10 national-level rider, is the principal owner of MTC. He’s excited about what SolVista is doing for his favorite sport.
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“It’s been a bit of a niche market,” he says of the sport and its enthusiasts. “But now it’s the most rapidly growing segment in cycling.”
In downhill biking riders speed down specially built trails, frequently single track, where challenging turns, jumps and mountainous terrain create an adrenaline-filled descent. It’s thrilling for both riders and spectators.
Aside from improving the existing downhill trail system at SolVista, MTC has built five new downhill trails at SolVista ” two beginner, two intermediate and one expert trail. The goal is to build a series of trails that allow for a progression of ability levels.
Because SolVista is located entirely on private property, it can quickly build new downhill trails to meet the sport’s exacting demands without waiting for federal land approvals.
MTC offers clinics, lessons and rentals at SolVista, much like a downhill skiing operation during the winter months.
MTC also offered expert advice on the new “pump track” that has been built at SolVista Basin. A pump track allows advanced and recreational riders, including children, a chance to practice downhill moves and thrilling turns on a specialized track built at the base of SolVista Basin.
“The pump track is essentially a circuit of berms and rollers that’s a great place to practice your biking skills,” Thompson says. “It’s kind of our entry point for biking.”
Downhill biking has gained a foothold in the bicycling world, Thompson says, because some mountain bike riders become discouraged with the exertion and effort that goes into pedaling a bike up hillsides, especially at Colorado’s rarefied elevation. Since downhill biking doesn’t demand uphill riding, that drawback has been surmounted.
“It’s really not significantly different than alpine skiing,” Thompson says. “You wouldn’t bring your cross-country skis up on a chairlift. You’d have a tough time getting down the mountain on cross-country skis. It’s the same with biking.”
Downhill biking demands a heavier bike than standard mountain bikes. Enhanced braking systems and enhanced suspension are critical elements for these bicycles.
Protective equipment for the rider is also necessary. Full wrap-around helmets, various forms of body armor and knee and elbow pads are all required equipment for downhill bikers.
All the equipment and special bikes are available for rent or purchase at SolVista Basin.
“We have a lot to do when it comes to two wheels,” Thompson says. “This is a great thing for the resort to have.”
The goal is to make the sport welcoming for all ability levels.
“There’s something here for everyone in the family,” he says. “If you can ride a bike, there’s really something for you to do.”
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