Mountain Biking in Winter Park

Ahhhhh, you guys! My love for {some} of the two-wheeled wonders has returned!

It’s really only for mountain bikes. I still can’t be bothered with a roadie.

Waaaaaaay back in July, Will and I were invited up to the mountain town of Winter Park. WP is a perennial favorite of mine in the winter since it is on my season ski pass. That said, I don’t spend a ton of time there in the summer– and for no good reason. We readily agreed to the weekend sojourner and come Friday after work, we hit the road!

20150802WinterPark151

There were a handful of activities on the agenda, but I was focused on the mountain biking; we had two hills on the docket for the weekend and they both looked fantastic. As they tend to do over the weekend, Saturday morning dawned first: we were headed to Granby Ranch!

Granby Ranch

20150801WinterPark11

Located just down the road from Winter Park, Granby Ranch is 20 minutes away but almost feels like a world of difference. Whereas Winter Park is bustling with activity on the mountain and tourist dabbled the streets in town, Granby Ranch was quiet. Really quiet.

And it was pretty awesome!

20150801WinterPark3

20150801WinterPark35

Granby Ranch is a small ski resort in the winter, but in the summer it offers similar amenities as other larger resorts. Namely, Granby offers both cross-country and downhill mountain biking. Since it was Saturday and we hadn’t quite exercised our biking legs– let alone found them– Will and I opted for cross-country riding. We’d tackle that downhill nonsense later!

We met our guide Wes at the bike shop located at the base. He set us up with some 29ers– bikes with 29″ wheels rather than 26″ wheels like standard mountain bikes–and escorted us to the chair lift. Yup, even though we were cross-country riding at Granby, we didn’t have to ride all the way up the mountain. We caught the lift!

20150801WinterPark7

Once we reached the top, Wes gave us the lowdown. All of the trails at Granby are rated similar to ski runs: green for the easiest, blue for moderate, and black for expert terrain. The trail map also made it crystal clear which side of the mountain was for downhill and which side was for cross-country riding. Since we were not equipped with downhill bikes, we stayed as far rider’s left as we could….without crossing into black terrain!

We spent two hours riding the mountain, hooking up with various trails and chatting with Wes. I quickly realized that the terrain at Granby is fairly technical. The singletrack was rocky and bumpy, and some of the switchbacks were narrow. I struggled at the beginning when I was in too high of a gear. I couldn’t get the pedals to crank while climbing over a steep rock. I had to actually get off my bike and push it over the stone, much to my chagrine!

20150801WinterPark25

I also noticed that the scenery at Granby was different than we’d recently seen riding in Crested Butte. Granby {and Winter Park} got leveled with Colorado’s outbreak of Pine Beetle. It’s been a battle here for years, although some parts of the state got hit far worse than others. The area near Granby took a beating and various downed trees were stacked and pile around the singletrack. In a way, it added an eery element to the ride as we swooped past stacked piles of dead wood. Stupid beetles!

If You Go:

Where: Granby Ranch, 15 minutes past Winter Park on US-40

Cost: Single-day lift tickets cost $24 for an adult, $15 for a child {It is free to hike at the mountain.}

Bike Rentals: Cost varies depending on the type of riding, for how long, and which package you go with. Check here for current prices.

Trestle Bike Park

20150802WinterPark71 (1)

Located at the actual Winter Park Ski Resort, Trestle Bike Park is the larger, smoother cousin to Granby Ranch. And honestly, when I first saw downhill biking on our Sunday itinerary, I was concerned. Will doesn’t typically love sports with all adrenaline and risk and zero sweat equity, so I suspected downhill biking wouldn’t be his jam. He was a good sport though, and we headed to Trestle at 9am to investigate.

We immediately were set up with safety gear, which made me even warier. How crazy WAS this sport if I was required to wear body armor on my upper half and on my knees, along with a massive full-face helmet?!

20150802WinterPark49

Fortunately, Trestle had set us up with a beginner lesson so that we didn’t kill ourselves on the first try! We met with instructor Christy, and took a few moments to meet the others in the group. It was an eclectic mix of experience, so Will and I felt good about the day. Besides, did I mention I was wearing body armor?!

20150802WinterPark129

Once again, we took the lift to the top of the mountain where Christy herded us into a group for the basic instructions:

  1. The freeride stance is standing on the pedals, not sitting
  2. Keep both feet even while standing so that one pedal isn’t lower than the other
  3. Use only one finger on the brakes
  4. When braking, lower yourself towards the seat
  5. In general, look where you want to go, not where your tire currently is

Once on the trail, everything made sense and I quickly realized that I love downhill biking! We zipped down the mountainside, banking around corners and flying up and over small bridges and rolling hills. I found myself hootin’ and hollerin’ as we bombed down the mountain. This was so fun!

20150802WinterPark144

20150802WinterPark104

Christy would occasionally stop to make sure we all stayed together, and I always turned around to check on Will. I could see after the first ten minutes that he was loving it just as much as me; there was big ol’ grin stretched across his face.

20150802WinterPark103

20150802WinterPark80

Y’all, I don’t know what else to say about downhill other than you must try it. Sure, it takes mental concentration to prevent spills and there is quite a bit of risk. But, it felt so freeing to crush down the mountain with the wind whistling around me and dust blowing under my tires. Will and I both agreed: we’ll be back.

If You Go:

Where: Trestle Bike Park, located at Winter Park Ski Resort

Cost: Full-day lift ticket costs $41 for an adult and $30 for a child. 

Bike Rentals: Prices vary depending on how long your rent the bike and at what time of day. 2015 prices can be found here.

********************

Huge thanks to the town of Winter Park for accommodating Will and I on our weekend in WP. While our food, lodging, and activities were all comped, opinions are my own. And yes, that means you should still try downhill!

5 Comments

  • Reply Mattie @ Comfy & Confident at

    This look so funnnn!!I have been skiing at Winter Park but never biking. It looks awesome!

    • Reply heather at

      That’s how I was too– but I am now a convert. Biking up there is fantastic!

  • Reply Lindsey at

    I have been wanting to try downhill biking, but I am really nervous! I would have been freaking out when they had me put on all that body armor! Haha. Looks fun though! How did you like riding with the 29″ versus the 26″ bike?

    • Reply heather at

      You should totally try! I thought it would be far scarier than it actually was 🙂 And the 29er was awesome! It’s amazing how burly they are; they just kinda roll over stuff!

  • Reply Amanda S at

    Sweet!!! I want to try DH mostly to get more confident in my trail riding. My thought is if I can learn to ride at a place like Trestle, the stuff I do on xc rides won’t seem so scary/fast.

    I also love that area. Winter Park was where I had my first ever powder day in April, and the cross country skiing around there is tough to beat between Devil’s Thumb and Snow Mountain Ranch.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.