Spoke Talk: New world of mountain biking | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: New world of mountain biking

Mountain bikers are pushing their sport farther every day. In this new world, bikes are getting lighter and stronger, wheels are getting bigger and suspension technology is better than ever.

As bikes are becoming better, so are the trails we ride them on. I feel lucky to live in a community that has seen such a huge growth in mountain biking and to be part of the nonprofit trail building crew, Routt County Riders — Trail Builders.

We have been working hard, building and advancing trails in the valley. Our current project is located on Buffalo Pass. This project includes touch ups and re-routes of unsustainable sections of unauthorized trails that have been previously built. Our focus this year is going to be Grouse Ridge, BTR and a new, multi-use trail that will connect Spring Creek Trail to the trail heads higher on Buffalo Pass. As we enter our third week of this build, I have been hearing a lot of discussion, and there is clearly some confusion.

Let me paint a picture of the current project.

For many years, people have been building unauthorized trails on National Forest property in Routt County and throughout the country. It seems to be part of the culture to get exactly what is wanted in a mountain bike trail without concern for safety or environmental destruction. These unauthorized trails are pretty progressive and include a lot of risk/reward.

When the U.S. Forest Service found out about these trails, it wanted to eliminate them. Seeing that RCR is made up of bikers of all backgrounds, we could not just stand by and watch these fun, progressive trails be destroyed. So, RCR worked with the Forest Service to save the best parts of the trails that already exist, while re-routing around and closing the unsustainable sections.

While doing so, we are adding new features that provide the high level of progression riders are looking for, while also considering safety and sustainability. The terrain covers a pretty rocky landscape and allows for very technical, progressive lines on rock, but also incorporates fun berms and rollers on dirt for flow and drainage.

One of the key words I have heard at work is options. When on rock, we are building multiple option lines for riders who really want to get after it and progress their riding. We will put down paint lines and trailhead signs to help guide riders through. It may seem like a lot to swallow now, but when everything is in place, I feel we will have a better product that will be more fun than ever.

Grouse Ridge and BTR have always been pretty technical and difficult trails and are not for everyone. This will still be the case after our job is complete. For mountain bikers who are just looking for a good pedal and some fun flow without all the risk, there is the new, multi-use trail starting at dry lake.

As we see change and progression of our favorite trails, the bikes of the future are here and capable. By the time the snow flies, we hope to have Grouse Ridge and BTR complete and the multi-use trail done from Dry Lake to BTR. When the snow melts in the spring, we will be back up there, continuing to build fun, sustainable trails for your enjoyment.

Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling. If you would like to help or want more information, contact us at facebook.com/rcriders, routtcountyriders.org or email rcriders@routtcountyriders.org.

Mark Martinez is an avid rider and employee of RCR Trail Builders and Ski and Bike Kare.

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