The Fraser Valley still offers good riding

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith
Keith Sanders
Staff Photo |

I’m sure you are anxiously awaiting winter’s arrival. The day when the stars align, you get first chair and Mother Nature has politely deposited a few feet of new. You have the run all to yourself, untouched snow waiting for you to make the first tracks. Until then you can enjoy our Indian Summer as our trails are still in great shape to ride!

Wednesday I rode some of our favorite trails. After a spirited cruise on the Givelo trail we turned onto Creekside, which is always a fun ride. Roots and rocks are just enough to keep you alert and the grade is not enough to make you think about your trail choice decision. No ride up Creekside would be complete without a quick jaunt down Flume.

Flume is one of my favorite trails. Just downhill enough to let you imagine you are a much stronger rider than you are. Plenty of turns to keep the fun factor very high. It’s an experience that lets you smile all the way down the trail. Flume ends at Chainsaw so why not climb a bit and work the legs, or in this case the legs and lungs. The changes in Chainsaw over the last few years have been a dramatic improvement on the quality of the trail. Old road was given up to add new singletrack. Muddy sections were finally eliminated after many years so that you can ride the trail early and late in the season.

We crested the top of Chainsaw and then continued on a social trail that has become the main corridor in the area. Climbing singletrack through the woods this trail parallels the system trail of Zoom. Yet where Zoom is a road through a large ground seep the social trail is dry and offers a much more desired experience. Hopefully some day we can eliminate the ground seep on Zoom as that is an unsustainable trail and utilize a dry sustainable alternative.

“Keeping the feet warm may be the most important part of the body to address. Your feet are near the ground and exposed to snow, wind and any water that may not be frozen. As we all know, staying dry is critical in cold weather.”

Just as the legs began to burn we intersected USFS 159. A short jaunt to the top and we were able to see the high mountains, which were blanketed with the day’s snowfall. A sure sign that the dry trails will be covered with snow as winter is rapidly approaching.

There is still plenty of time to get in some last rides of the year on the dry trails. Almost all of the trails are still dry and riding is about as good as it gets. The only thing that really separates fall riding from summer is the temperature.

Clothing to ride in the cold and winter is pretty simple. Almost everyone has cold weather gear. If you don’t, then welcome to the valley. If you cross country ski then you already own just about everything you need. I tend to wear a lightweight shell jacket and pants to block the wind. Layers under those shells is usually enough to stay warm. Typically a lightweight set of winter gloves will do just fine on the hands.. If it gets colder wear your standard ski gloves or mittens. Under my helmet I wear the same skull cap that I use under my ski helmet

Keeping the feet warm may be the most important part of the body to address. Your feet are near the ground and exposed to snow, wind and any water that may not be frozen. As we all know, staying dry is critical in cold weather. Start with your ski socks. They will warm the feet as well as the muscle mass lower leg which remains warmer resulting in less cooling of the blood. The most important thing is wearing cycling booties over my shoes. These are insulated and made of a waterproof material. I’ve ridden in below zero conditions with the booties.

One last bit of advice. Be aware of temperature fluctuations. I tend to go out in the morning or later afternoon. The reason for this is to ride when the ground is more likely to be frozen. Traction is generally better and I stay far dryer. I’m also less likely to do trail damage. If you can only ride when it has warmed up a bit then seek out the shaded areas wherever possible.

The only thing stopping you is you. The nice thing about biking in the snow is that there are ample opportunities to make those first tracks. Rumor is we are in for a bit of snow this winter. Next time it snows grab your bike and take it for a ride.

Group rides

Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western in Winter Park weekly group ride is now over for the season. Come join us this spring as soon as conditions will allow 970-726-5988

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

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