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What’s been the ride of your life? E D I TO R I A L EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN doug@elevationoutdoors.com

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MANAGING EDITOR JAYME MOYE jayme@elevationoutdoors.com

Hours upon hours of walking in the dark after a wrong turn and my buddy’s girlfriend calling a bewildered sherriff to tell him we never came home from the “Miller Peak Epic.”

ASSISTANT EDITORS CHRIS KASSAR, CAMERON MARTINDELL COPY EDITOR AARON BIBLE CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ADAM CHASE, ROB COPPOLILLO, JAMES DZIEZYNSKI, SONYA LOONEY, CHRIS VAN LEUVEN EDITOR-AT-LARGE PETER KRAY CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PHILIP ARMOUR, MARK ELLER, jedd farris, JOE LINDSEY, PAUL TOLME

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jaymemoye Racing Mount Evans for the first time with a goal of sub-three hours, sprinting across the finish line at 2:59:57 and promptly passing out from lack of oxygen.

meredithdemaso Walker Ranch. I’m hoping to actually learn to ride it rather than pull bikes off of fallen friends and push my bike.

cameronmartindell Skydiving. Riding nothing but the wind, falling to the earth. I really want to get out and do that again. What a rush.

sonyalooney Finishing a ride on alpine singletrack with dirt, sweat, sun, elevation gain and a big, fat perma-grin.

joelindsey A week in Tuscany or on the Colorado Trail? Taiwan’s Neng Gao high line or the South Saint Vrain in fall? Every ride is the ride of my life.

paultolme The unhappiest ride of my life was when I lawndarted while hucking my crosscountry bike in the downhill park at Jackson Hole, wrecking my shoulder and leaving me woeful.


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A P R I L 2 01 2 katherine fuller

air for all: bike parks bring riders to new heights (page 35).

features

33 BREW WITH A CLUE

43 THE ROAD

Golden megabrewer Coors is making a microbrew that goes down quite well after a day on JeffCo’s hoppin’ singletrack.

Pro endurance racer Sonya Looney has spent days on the trail, winning the Breck Epic and Nepal’s Yak Attack. But she had never spent a night alone out in the woods until she decided to strap what she could carry on her ride, head into the hills and face her fears while solo bikepacking.

35 THE Park’s the place Bike parks are on the rise across Colorado. But can they change the culture of mountain biking in town? Mark Eller reports on the impact of the park on local communities and economies.

49 ELWAYVILLE Peter Kray blisses out over Colorado mountain mamas.

departments 7 EDITOR’S LETTER

22 BEST GEAR

We need vision when it comes to community bike trails.

Our rundown of this season’s best bikes and accessories

9 QUICK HITS

31 What a girl wants

Optibike, Fruita’s new trails, the ulitmate recylers and more

Mountain bike gear, of course

13 FLASHPOINT

End of season resort wackiness

Americans want more money devoted to bike infrastructure.

47 hear this

17 STRAIGHT TALK Up-and-comer Tom Danielson

19 hot Spot

41 CALENDAR

Denver locals The Lumineers are ready to hit the big time.

50 READER PHOTOS Oh yeah, baby—bike porn!

Touring Colorado’s wine country from the bike seat

21 butting heads Did crowds go too crazy during the Pro Cycling Challenge?

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ON THE COVER: Ross Schnell finds the edge near Grand Junction, Colorado. By Devon Balet / devonbaletphoto.com


E D I TO R ’ S L E T T E R

Last summer, I spent a lazy weekend in Salida with family and friends. We rented an old Victorian house. We woke up late and went to the farmers market. We hung out with our kids at the Boathouse Cantina and splashed with our friends’ dog in the cool waters of the Arkansas. Then my buddy Isaac and I hopped on our bikes and hit some sick singletrack. The Salida Mountain Trails (salidamountaintrails. org) start right out the door of the Boathouse and switchback up into the foothills. There’s a little bit for everyone up here—but we were simply blown away by the new North Backbone Trail, a rollercoaster 6.4-mile out-and-back ride that feels as if it were designed by mountain bikers. That’s because, of course, it was. Salida Mountain Trails is an all-volunteer non profit that is on a mission to create a network of non-motorized trails surrounding Salida. Much of the thrust of getting the organization off the ground and building all this fantastic singletrack came from Absolute Bikes (absolutebikes.com), the local cycle shop, where we met up with Salida’s mayor Chuck Rose (now retired) standing in front of the maps of this trail system. He was the dude who recommended we ride the North Backbone. Singletrack has become a part of the fabric of life here—and everyone is excited about it. We have seen the power of bikes to transform communities in Colorado. Just think about Fruita

Lin Alder/alderphoto.com

In My Backyard

True Grit: Building a bike community can require getting down and dirty (and maybe even mudslinging).

15 years ago, when it was nothing but a dusty desert rest stop. The town is experiencing an economic revival in the midst of a recession, with two bike shops, cafes, real pizza and hordes of fattire tourists spending cash. It’s a prime example of just how successfully clean, healthy service economies can thrive by taking advantage of the natural beauty and athletic challenges of their landscapes, rather than by exploiting them. And trail systems don’t have to be just singletrack— bike parks (see page 35), commuter trails (see page 13) and a whole cycle culture complete the scene. I only wish our hometown of Boulder would become more visionary when it comes to creating an experience like Salida. Last year, Boulder mountain bikers and the town council got in a

dispute over new trails that brought out the worst on both sides—despite an incredible new bike park and one of the best cycle paths in the country, the council couldn’t complete the “bike town” experience and banned bikes and new trails from some of the best open space in town. That was a shame not only because we won’t be able to ride straight from The Kitchen onto singletrack, but more so because Boulder lost its coveted place as a visionary city that integrates recreation, nature and commerce into one big, happy love fest. Towns with real vision can create trail systems like Salida and rec-firendly economies like Fruita. All you need to do is become active. Pick up a shovel, call your biker friends and start a movement in your own backyard.

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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quickhits

courtesy optibike

SHORTS

Colorado's Marathon Series

Voodoo Fire

Pueblo | April 21

Ridgeline Rampage Castle Rock | May 5

Battle the Bear

Lakewood | May 19

Breckenridge 100 Breckenridge | July 15

gettin’ a Charge: not for the lazy, Jim turner’s electric bikes are high-performance machines.

Turn Me On

Skeptical about e-bikes? Jim Turner is ready to lead the electric bike revolution with highperformance cycles that make you forget they come with a throttle.

Jim Turner, 55, the owner, founder and chief engineer of Colorado’s OptiBike (optibike.com) likes to proselytize about electric bikes. “It’s common to run away from what’s hard, but it’s my personality not to do that. I do what I want. That’s the mythos of America,” he says with a wry smile. “If you don’t do what’s hard, you don’t have a job. It’s too competitive out there.” Optibike produces the only electric bike that is 100-percent made in America, and Turner designed and owns the proprietary internal processors, motorized electronics, frames, “everything,” he says. And most of it’s manufactured in the Front Range, with assembly and R&D occurring at Optibike’s location on 28th Street in downtown Boulder. “We definitely swim upstream from the norm,” explains Turner, who founded the company in 1998 and started production in 2006. (Today, he has six full-time employees, 12 total, including his two sons, who work part time.) “I wanted an electric bike, and no one was selling what I wanted. So I decided to build exactly what I wanted.” What he wanted was a high-performance “pedalassisted” electric bike with a powerful, long-range battery that was integrated into the frame, allowing for better balance, durability and maneuverability. Turner is very competitive and prides himself on creating new markets for his bikes. He raced motor cross professionally in the 1970s and 80s and competed in Ironman triathlons against Dave Scott and Mark Allen. An engineer by schooling and a former engineer in the automotive industry, the guy knows how to isolate a goal and achieve. But besides passion for the better mousetrap (and a heartfelt belief in healthy lifestyles and green technology), Turner might also be motivated

by sibling rivalry. His brother Paul Turner founded Rock Shox bicycle shocks and sold out after the 1996 IPO, moving to Hawaii. Jim proudly points out that he’s turned down several offers for industry partnerships, venture capital and IPO ramp ups. “We want to be a long-term part of the community and create local jobs,” he says. It’s a unique attitude in these greedy times, although his top-of-the-line USV (ultimate smart vehicle) Optibike costs $10,000–$13,000; the R-series performance line costs $10,000-$12,000; and the women’s Helia about $9,000. High-end components, custom frames and lithium batteries from a 50-mile radius don’t come cheap. “Our customers are the kind of people who look for the best,” Turner says. “That’s why they come to us… Yes, our bikes are expensive, but they’re better.” OptiBikes are, in fact, stupid fun to ride. They handle like a mountain bike but drive like an electric motorcycle. (Federal law classifies electric bikes as bicycles, not motorized vehicles.) As commuter tools, they are unparalleled—fast and entertaining. Most of OptiBike’s sales are in the U.S., with international sales to 30 countries accounting for 25 percent. The most expensive limited edition OptiBike sold to date was shipped to a customer in Slovakia. (According to Turner, a total of 175,000 electric bikes from many different manufacturers sold in Holland alone in 2011.) Locally, Turner has partnered with Boulder Indoor Cycling, where the velodrome pacer rides a modified OptiBike with 700c wheels, tiny bars and mechanical wheels to avoid hydraulics on the track. “Other e-bikes could never handle the g-forces, and the handling would be off,” Turner points out. “Professional racers are getting exposed to our bikes and see that they actually work.” In 2011, Turner completed the annual Assault on the Peak road race up Pike’s Peak on an OptiBike, climbing the course, which gains 7,700 feet in 24.5 miles, in just 1.5 hours. So in his case, the preaching actually delivers. —Philip Armour

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Fort Collins Bike Co-op

quickhits

SHORTS

The Ultimate Re-Cyclers

Introducing the Fort Collins Bike Co-op What’s the environmental impact of recycling bicycles? For the Fort Collins Bike Co-op, it equals about eight tons of mass diverted from landfills per year. The Co-op even received a 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award from

the Board of Larimer County Commissioners for its efforts. The recycling program salvages bicycles that are bound for the dump as well as abandoned and donated bikes. Bikes recovered are either restored, have their usable components harvested for re-use, or they are broken down by material type and recycled. Proceeds from the recycled materials go to buy tools for the program. Last year, the Co-op processed 194 found and

abandoned bicycles and another 150 that were donated. Beyond recycling, the Co-op’s mission is to help everyone get up on two wheels. It gives the refurbished bikes to community members who can’t afford a bike on their own. And, in exchange for 10 hours of volunteer service at any local non-profit, applicants receive a bicycle. The Co-op also offers free classes on bike repair and maintenance, open to all members of the community on a first come, first-served basis. “We like to encourage selfsufficiency,” says Doug Cutter, the Co-op’s president. “Our used parts area is also a favorite haunt of many local bike collectors looking for that unique component to get their bike rolling again.” In 2009, the Co-op partnered with the Village Bicycle Project to expand its reach to Africa. “We salvage more bikes than we can distribute locally,” explains Cutter. “Colorado bikes are now being ridden by healthcare workers, school children and farmers in Sierra Leone and Ghana.” To-date, the Co-op has sent more than 1,000 bikes to Africa. This year, the Co-op celebrates its 10th birthday and is looking for a new home, as its current location is being sold. Cutter says they hope to stay in downtown Fort Collins and are currently accepting donations to help acquire and build the new facility To get involved, or for more information visit fcbikecoop.org —Aaron Bible

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SHORTS

A mountain geographer and a meteorologist team up to camp on the summit of all of Colorado’s 14ers. Last summer, mountain geographer Dr. Jon Kedrowski became the first person to camp, sunset to sunrise, on the summit of all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. While the generally accepted number of

fourteeners is 54, Kedrowski hit 55 just to be sure. He was assisted by Meteorologist Chris Tomer, either in person or remotely, whose forecasts were crucial in helping tp dodge dangerous afternoon thunderstorms and lightening. It took Kedrowski 95 days to bag all 55, working around the storms. Some peaks required multiple attempts before weather conditions permitted a safe summit and camp. “On Capitol Peak we were chased off the Knife Edge twice by nasty thunderstorms,” says Tomer. “There is no easy escape from Capitol’s summit, so you have to be 100-percent certain of what the weather is doing before you commit. But it made our eventual summit bivy incredibly satisfying.” Besides studying rogue thunderstorms, the pair also gathered new data on peak-specific meteorology and geography. They came out of the experience with harrowing stories of bears and a renewed appreciation for friendship and teamwork. Their experience was documented in news reports for Denver’s KDVR/KWGN-TV and in a full-color book, Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado 14er High Bivys, to be released by Westcliffe Publishers in June. The book, heavy on photographs and personal anecdotes, details the meteorological analysis, as well as the risks, teamwork and mountaineering lessons learned while camping atop the state’s highest summits.

quickhits

Peak (Sleeping) Bagging

Ready to Ride

—Cameron Martindell

fresh fruita The BLM approved six new trails in the 18 Road Bicycle Emphasis Area of the north Fruita desert. The first will be ready in time for the Fat Tire Festival, April 25–29. The expected $30,000 to build out that trail, dubbed Anne’s Pump Track, has already been raised thanks to the efforts of the newly formed Grand Valley Trails Alliance (gvtrails.com). The trail’s namesake, Anne Keller, co-owns Hot Tomato Pizza (hottomatocafe.com) in Fruita along with former pro downhiller Jen Zeuner. It was Keller who got out in the field to mark and set the GPS coordinates for the trail. She also hosted the initial community meetings that would get the project rolling at the pizza shop. “It’s gonna be epic, all jumpy and bermy, kind of like a BMX track on steroids,” says Zeuner. The Grand Valley Trails Alliance is already working on securing funds for the second trail. The group has asked the cycling industry to donate bikes, components, apparel and products to be used in an auction. They are also soliciting local businesses to donate products, services, gift certificates, meals and accommodations to support creating more trails in Fruita. For proposed trail maps, to get involved or to make a donation, visit fruitasingletrack.com. —Jayme Moye

NUMBER

$10,000,000,000

The number of annual dollars that outdoor recreation contributes to Colorado’s economy, as well as sustaining 107,000 jobs statewide. Go outside and play, it’s good for you and for our economy.

unsanctioned

Bandit Races

Promoters will be the first to tell you that putting on a race is a labor of love. Or as one Denver director put it: A long, painful birthing process that ultimately requires an episiotomy (dudes may have to Google that one), no matter how prepared you think you are. From the bureaucracy of getting a permit on public lands for trail runs, to the expense of securing police safety support for road bike events, creating a race cuts deep. It’s no wonder race fees have skyrocketed— some 10K races in Boulder cost upwards of $50. And while we feel race promoters’ pain, free t-shirt and post-race bananas notwithstanding, that’s a lot of dough to drop on a 45-minute run. What if there was another way? Forget the corporate sponsors, the permits, the entry fees. How about just a group of people getting together to compete the old-fashioned way? No timing chips, no packet pick-up, no goodie bags. If the thought of bandit racing sends shivers of joy up your rebel spine, please allow us to introduce you to unsanctionedracing.com. This new Facebook app let’s you leverage the power of social networking to create your own back-alley, off the grid, underground events. The app is the brainchild of the folks at Colorado-based Pearl Izumi, the unofficial nonsponsor. Since the app launched earlier this year, nearly 200 races have been created, from Jalalabad to La Jolla, from Mission, Texas, to Bogotá, Columbia. It’s race promotion in its most unadulterated form, perhaps the way it was always meant to be. —J.M.

www.TownOfFrisco.com

Frisco is your hub for adventure with 80 miles of paved pathway, a bike park and endless single track. Whatever your direction the path starts in Frisco.

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flashpoint

COURTESY Bikes belong

ISSUES

A costly commute? funding for bike paths may be in danger across the U.S., but not in colorado where voters have approved taxes to pay for them.

Spinning the Political Wheels

Bike commuting is on the rise in the United States and Colorado, thanks in part to increased federal funding that is building an infrastructure of new trails and bike lanes. But budget cutting fervor in Washington could slam on the brakes.

By Paul Tolme Kevin Krizek is the quintessential Boulder bikeaholic. He pedals to work and the grocery store, he races on weekends and he owns a bicycle for every occasion—a commuter bike, a road bike and time trial bike, a cyclocross rig and mountain bike, a beach cruiser and a singlespeed. All told, Krizek and his wife and five-year-old son have a whopping 18 bicycles. “All of them,” he says with a laugh, “get ridden.” Krizek, a University of Colorado professor of urban planning who specializes in bike-friendly urban design, exemplifies the nation’s growing love affair with bicycles. According to statistics from the Outdoor Industry Association, cycling is the second-most frequent activity in the United States (behind running, jogging and trail running), and over 7 million Americans mountain bike. Nearly half of Americans say they want more bike paths, bike lanes and trails to ride on according to advocacy group Bikes Belong and bike commuting is up 163 percent in Colorado and 181 percent in Denver since 1990. The bike boom is due in part to steady increases in funding for bike infrastructure, with the biggest pot coming from the federal transportation bill. Bicyclists benefit from three primary federal programs: Safe Routes to Schools, the Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Enhancements (which funds bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure). Bicyclerelated funding hit its apex in 2009 at $1.4 billion thanks to an infusion of stimulus money,

declining to $791 million in 2011. Federal funding for bike paths and other infrastructure is crucial because American roads and communities were designed for cars. The Boulder-based group Bikes Belong was formed specifically to maximize federal funding for bike infrastructure. “Good infrastructure is a critical element of getting people to ride bicycles for transportation,” says Professor Susan Handy, director of the Sustainable Transportation Center at the University of California, Davis. “You need a safe and convenient bicycle network that will get people to their destinations before you get significant numbers of people bicycling. But it takes money to build those quality networks.” Davis is recognized as the country’s most bike friendly small city due to its plethora of bike lanes and paths. About 15 percent of Davis workers commute by bicycle, the highest rate in the United States (about 10 percent of Boulderites commute by bicycle). But Davis’s success was hardly achieved overnight. In 1967, Davis striped the first bike lanes in the United States, and today the city has more than 50 miles

Cutting this money is economically short sighted, critics say, because recreation is one of the few prosperous industries during this economic downturn. of off-street bike paths in an area of less than 10 square miles. But even bike-friendly localities like Portland, Boulder, Davis and Minneapolis have room for improvement. While just 12 percent of trips in the United States are by bike or on foot, that figure is 51 percent in the Netherlands. In Denmark and Germany, biking and walking comprise a third of all trips.

“There are lots of trips that could be shifted to bicycling if the conditions were right,” Handy says. “We have to invest in infrastructure but we also have to get people to change their attitudes toward bicycling.” Handy’s research shows that people who “strongly agree” with the statement “I like riding a bike” are twice as likely to ride as people who simply “agree” with that statement. In other words, people’s attitudes toward cycling are a great determinant of whether they ride. “In most places in the United States, bicycling is perceived as recreation not transportation,” Handy adds.

Bump in the Road The effort to get more Americans on bikes, however, is under threat. Some members of Congress, especially those in the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, want to eliminate dedicated federal funding for Safe Routes to Schools, the Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Enhancements—all of which play a key role in providing bike infrastructure. As this article went to press, the House had stripped funding from its version of the $260 billion transportation bill. Bike advocacy groups and the bicycle industry were quick to respond: “We stand to lose $1.2 billion and over 3,000 potential bike and pedestrian projects,” Trek Bicycles CEO John Burke wrote in an email alert to bike shop workers and owners, who were urged to contact their congressmen. “The opposition doesn’t make sense,” says Meghan Cahill, spokeswoman for the League of American Bicyclists. Biking and walking get just over one percent of funding in the transportation bill but they comprise 12 percent of all trips. “It’s pretty simple math to figure out that the amount of funding that goes for bike programs is infinitesimally small,” says Mark Eller, communications director for the International Mountain Biking Association. “But it has become a whipping boy.” The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) has APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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COURTESY Bikes belong

flashpoint

ISSUES

where the rubber Hits the Trail

Federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) money has benefited thousands of trails nationwide and many in Colorado including: Sinton Trail and Alpine Trail Colorado Springs; Sand Creek Regional Trail Denver; Galloping Goose Trail Durango; Dinosaur Trail and 18 Road Trails Fruita; Devils Backbone Loveland; Niwot and Cottontail Trails Boulder; Crag Crest Trail Cedaredge; Willows Trail Crested Butte; Rampart Range Trail Morrison; Green Mountain Summit Loop Trail Lakewood; Fraser to Granby Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Bears Ears Trails Steamboat Springs

no purpose: conservative politicians want to axe federal funding for this type of dirty, elitist fun.

provided cash for singletrack in Boulder County, throughout Colorado and for thousands of trails nationwide. Cutting this money is economically short sighted, critics say, because recreation is one of the few prosperous industries during this economic downturn. “Money invested in trails creates more jobs than is created by typical transportation projects,” Eller says. RTP money comes from an excise tax collected on fuel sales for off-road vehicles: dirt bikes, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and other gasoline-powered recreational machines. Thirty percent of the money collected goes to non-motorized trails, 30 percent to motorized and 40 percent for shared-use trails. Eliminating the funding would have no impact on federal spending because the money would continue to be collected but would be spent on highways instead. “There would be no savings,” Eller says. Foes of bicycle programs say transportation money should go to highways and bridges. U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led the drive to eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling programs, which he says “do not serve a federal purpose.” In the U.S Senate, Oklahoma Republicans James Inhofe, a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, calls eliminating “frivolous spending for bike trails” one of his top-three goals for the

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transportation bill. The backlash against bike funding makes little sense because building infrastructure for bicycles provides a big bang for the buck in terms of health, economic and environmental benefits, cycling advocates say. Adults who bike to work have better weight, blood pressure and insulin levels, and women cyclists have a lower risk of breast cancer. Adolescents who bicycle are less likely to be overweight as adults. Substituting a bike for a car reduces carbon emissions that cause global warming, and it saves money on gasoline and other costs of operating an automobile. Bicycle commuters with a round-trip of 10 miles save about $10 daily. “This opposition to bicycling is not practical, and it’s not conservative,” says Jeffrey Miller, president of the Alliance for Biking & Walking.

Taking the Lead The good news is that Boulder, and Colorado overall, will fare better than other localities (if there is a loss of federal funding) because of state and local financial support for cycling. Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, receives a portion of state lottery revenues and is a principal source of cash for trails. GOCO has invested approximately $33.8 million in trails throughout the state since its inception. “Virtually all of our grants to trail projects contain a bicycle component,” says GOCO

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spokeswoman Emily Paton Davies. Examples include the Swan Mountain recreational path in Summit County, the South Platte Greenway in Adams, Arapahoe and Denver counties, the Colorado Riverfront Greenway in Mesa County and the Animas River Greenway in Durango. Boulder County gets trail money from a voterapproved tax, and it leverages those dollars with GOCO grants. “We are busy constructing new trails every year,” says country trails supervisor Andy Tyler. Recent examples include the threemile Benjamin Loop on the Betaso open space. For 2012 the county is in the planning stages for a multi-use trail near Longmont and another trail in Betaso. “It’s expensive to open new trails,” Tyler says. Depending on the terrain, trail surface and width, it costs from $16,000 to $75,000 per mile. Krizek says cycling is picked on by conservatives because it is perceived as an activity for liberals, hippies and environmentalists rather than as a wise and healthful form of transportation. “It’s considered a fringe mode of transportation,” he says. But as Portland, Minneapolis, Boulder and other cities get rates of bicycle commuting into the double digits, that attitude will shift nationally, he says. Bike paths and lanes must be plentiful and convenient if people are to use them, Krizek says. People are willing to go 16 minutes out of their way on an average commute to access a bike lane, according to Krizek’s research, and they are willing to ride 67 percent further, roughly 2.6 miles, to access dedicated bike lanes or paths. “Bicycling is a mode poised for greatness,” says Krizek, author of vehicleforasmallplanet. com. There will be ups and downs in the debate over how to fund bicycling infrastructure, but the positive trends of the past five years are hard to ignore, he says. “There is enough momentum now that it will be hard to go backwards. I see a bright future for bicycling. It just makes sense.” Paul Tolme is a lifelong bike nut who started pedaling a banana seat Sears three-speed as a kid and now rides nearly daily all year round including to the post office through the winter snow, from his home in South Lake Tahoe.


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WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR LOCAL GUIDEBOOKS. WE’RE LOOKING FOR LOCAL GUIDES. In 2010, we rocked Boulder, Colorado. Last year, we hit Hood River, Oregon. This year...the destination is up to you. We're dropping into outdoor meccas across the states all spring in search of the perfect town. Is yours on the list? If it should be, let us know. We could descend upon it with everything from community outreach to an epic party, all focused on telling your unique story. Submit your town to localsonlyproject@nativeyewear.com. This is your opportunity to represent. This is the Locals Only Project.

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TRAILBLAZER

straighttalk

The Rising Star

Pro rider Tom Danielson broke out with the top American finish at the Tour de France last year. He hopes to keep building on his success this season.

By Chris Kassar

As a young kid on the east coast, Tom Danielson, 34, fell in love with riding dirt bikes. He soon switched to mountain biking, going on to win a national championship at the college level. However, thanks to an intuitive coach at Fort Lewis college, Danielson found his true calling. He admits the transition to road riding wasn’t smooth, but he worked at it, overcame the difficulties and now ranks among the best pro cyclists in the world. In 2011, Danielson had the breakout year for which he’d been waiting. He surprised himself by placing 3rd in the Tour of California and then crushed his debut in the Tour De France by securing a 9th place finish overall (the top American spot) and leading the Garmin-Cervelo squad (now Garmin-Barracuda) to claim the team victory prize. We caught up with Danielson on the brink of the start of the season to talk about the keys to his success and find out what this local rising star has planned for 2012. It’s obvious from watching you both on the bike and off that you have a lot of heart. What are you passionate about other than cycling? I have always been passionate and I love to give back to the sport, but my wife has helped me learn to direct my passion at other things. She’s taught me to find a lot of happiness within the everyday. So right now, my family is my biggest passion. My wife, my parents, her parents, my son all help me stay grounded and well rounded. My two-year-old son teaches me what life is all about each day. Being successful in your sport and job starts with appreciating your family and being a good asset to them. When you enjoy what you have, then you can start giving your whole heart to your sport. You’ve been getting stronger and stronger over the last few years and 2011 was a real breakout year for you. To what do you attribute your success? Over the years I got caught up in living up to other people’s expectations and listening to everyone else’s two cents. I lost who I was and what I wanted to accomplish and then, I kept waiting for other people to put me back on track. This year, I got reminded that I’m the only person who can get me back on track. With the help of my family, especially the birth of my son, I realized it’s up to me to be the best I can be in order to make this whole thing work. As soon as I switched my focus, there were instant results. At the Tour of California, I stopped worrying what other people thought and decided to work for the team, tune out media and just let the legs work and see where I ended up. On the podium surrounded by my family, that’s where it all clicked and I thought: “This is who I am. This is what I am and what I’m all about.”

local hero: danielson makes it a priority to give back to young riders and the community.

It’s crazy, but the simple things are what make the biggest improvements. We spend tons of time and money figuring out the latest and greatest thing that will make a difference, but the thing you really need the most is right in front of you all the time. It was inspiring to watch you climb up Alpe D’Huez and catch the leaders to secure your 9th place finish in the Tour de France last year. How did your performance at the Tour affect the way your preperation for this season? That kind of experience is what every athlete is looking for. You train and suffer and you look for some sort of positive affirmation for all that work. When you go to races and get your head kicked in repeatedly, you start to ask yourself, “What am I doing this for?” You become a mental milkshake and that takes a toll on your riding. When I stopped comparing and questioning, I started to perform better. I had always dreamed of riding these races so being up front with the leaders was unreal. Every day, I get up and I see this mental picture of me on that exact climb. It helps me give that extra little bit each day in training and has pushed me to the next level. I now know that I am that guy… that guy who can win. I’m holding onto that and hope I get to experience it more this season. How do you deal with the pressure of your career at home and on the road? The most important one is to focus on giving 100 percent to what I am doing at the moment. You’ve had a number of successes already, but what things will make you define your career as a success? I’ve got a certain number of years left and I feel like I’m just now coming into my prime. I can’t control the races I’ll win. The only thing I can control is me. If I push myself to the limit in training and race fearlessly, then I’ll have made a big jump toward meeting my goals. When I retire,

I want to look back and say that I gave everything I had, everyday, every race. If I can do that, then, I’ll be successful. You finished fourth in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge last year. What are you most excited for this time around? It’s going to be awesome to have a finish on Flagstaff Mountain. It’s my favorite climb and it’s a really tough one. The time trial in Denver will be great, too, but I’d really like to see at least one mountain top finish on the course. During your best performance, were you ever paying attention to anything else? No. So you were in the moment? You were at one with your experience? That’s the goal. It’s definitely not easy to do because if it was, everyone would be succeeding, but I’m getting there. You’re so busy, yet you manage to find time to work with young riders here in Colorado. Why is developing them important to you? When I started riding, there were certain people who reached out to me and I’ll remember them forever. They gave me hope and made me realize what I could accomplish. An interaction like that changes your perspective and brings It a lot closer to home. I mean, what are we doing? Selling products through a sport? Yes, but more importantly we are inspiring people by how we ride, fly up a climb, give them an autograph, how we interact with them. Creating these experiences for juniors hits home more than anything and will inspire people to believe in their dreams. I want to help people realize they can come up with a dream of any kind—to be a doctor, mountain climber or cyclist—and make it happen as long as they believe in it, work hard towards it and never lose sight of it. That’s why I do what I do. • APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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escapes denise chambers/ weaver multimedia group

hotspot

Steve Zdawczynski/steve-z.com Steve Zdawczynski/steve-z.com

VINTAGE CYCLING: PALISADE VINEYARD CRUISING (LEFT), TASTING AT BLACK BRIDGE WINERY (TOP RIGHT), GRAPES AT HIGH COUNTRY ORCHARDS (BOTTOM RIGHT).

The Grape Escape

Colorado’s Western Slope has been decreed “up and coming wine country.” If you don’t believe the hype—go taste for yourself. And bring your bike.

By Jayme Moye Welcome to bike-touring paradise. You wake to birds chirping in the apple orchard outside your window. The scent of pumpkin bread hits your nose as soon as you start down the narrow Victorian staircase to the kitchen. Margauex, owner of the Hansen Mesa Bed & Breakfast (970-872-4444), is already in the kitchen whipping up blueberry pancakes. Fresh squeezed juice and warm pumpkin bread are waiting on the table. After a hearty breakfast, you’re back in the saddle for another day exploring Colorado’s wine country by bike. You’ve got ten vineyards on the list today, including the award-winning Alfred Eames Cellars (alfredeamescellars.com), and Leroux Creek Vineyards (lerouxcreekinn.com), owned by a jolly Frenchman. Picturesque country roads connect the vineyards, routes where you’re apt to see more tractors that cars. Here, wine country is still blissfully commercial-free, with no ritzy hotels, no crowds and no outrageously overpriced dinners. Colorado’s nearly 100 wineries are small familyowned estates creating a variety of wines, from deep Merlots to expressive Chardonnays. Besides grapevines, the fertile valleys contain fruit orchards (Palisade peaches are famous nationwide), farms and ranches. Locals who’ve worked the land for three generations live beside a vibrant ex-pat community of foodies and artists drawn to the agrarian values and burgeoning slow food movement. Kind of makes you wonder... why has such an authentic slice of Americana remained under the radar? Simple, until recently, the wine was, shall we say, unbalanced. Winemakers were lured

by Colorado’s abundant sunshine, warm days, cool nights and low humidity—seemingly perfect conditions to create award winning wines. But their craft was complicated by other weather challenges, mainly early freezes that forced winemakers to pick the grapes before they were fully ripe, or risk losing the entire crop to the chill. “You’d save the crop, but the grape wasn’t quite ripe enough for the sugars to have balanced out the acids, which isn’t going to produce a topquality wine,” says Theresa High, owner of High Country Orchards (highcountryorchards.com) and Colterris Winery (colterris.com), home of the award-winning Colterris Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. After several decades of trial and error, Colorado winemakers are starting to get it right. Some, like High, risk an early freeze and leave the grapes on the wine until the sugar brix and acid levels are in balance. Others focus only on the heartiest cold-weather varietals like Riesling. “We can absolutely produce premium world-class wine in Colorado,” says High. “It’s just a matter of matching the right varietal with the right conditions. We’ve come a long way, quality-wise, in the last five years.”

how to Make It Happen The best time to visit the Western Slope is midJuly through the end of August, when the grapes are ripening and the orchard harvest yields a bounty of peaches, apples and cherries. Or wait until September, when temps are a bit cooler and it’s crush time, marked by the Colorado Mountain Winefest (coloradowinefest.com) in Palisade September 13–16. Be sure to preregister for the bicycle Tour de Vineyards on the 15th, covering 25 scenic miles of wine tasting. If you have a weekend, plan for one day in each of the two federally designated appellations in Colorado: the Grand Valley and the West Elks AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). Together, these regions produce 90 percent of the wine grapes grown in Colorado.

Grand Valley AVA The area along the Colorado River between Palisade and Grand Junction is the epicenter of Colorado wines, with four times as many vineyards as the West Elks AVA. If you have an extra day, plan to spend it here, or keep your tastings concentrated in one section, like around the city of Palisade. Follow signs for the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway (facebook.com/ PalisadeFruitandWineByway), a 29-mile trail that starts four miles off of I-70, guiding motorists and cyclists through the best of the Grand Valley, from vineyards to orchards to lavender gardens.

West Elks AVA The area along the North Fork of the Gunnison River between Paonia and Hotchkiss houses the nation’s highest elevation vineyards, up to 7,000 feet. Most of the wineries are connected by the West Elks Wine Trail, navigable by bike or car. Contact the Paonia Chamber of Commerce (paoniachamber.com) to request a map. Be sure to hit Delicious Orchards (deliciousorchardstore. com) for lunch, a lively pick-your-own orchard with an organic café serving up soup, salad, sandwiches, chili, burritos, tamales and, of course, Colorado wines. •

sideways

Singletrack

John Eckert founded Galaxy Bike and Sport (galaxybikeandsport.com) in 2005 as a bike repair shop inside a refurbished school bus. Today, the yellow vehicle sits parked beside the official store in Paonia that sells everything from bikes to cycling apparel to art. Stop in for a true eclectic bike shop experience and to get the beta on locals’ only mountain biking trails, which aren’t necessarily BLM-approved, but worth every under-the-radar moment. —J.M.

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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chill out

The scene on Swan Mountain near Breckenridge in the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge was pretty memorable. There was music, there were costumes, and there were several beers that unconscionably ended up on our windshield rather than inside some fan. It was an excellent party, but when Ben Jacques-Mayne came by, someone got a little too close in their excitement and knocked him off his bike. He was not at the front of the race in some crucial move like Guiseppe Guerini was on Alpe d’Huez when some asshat tangled his flag in Guerini’s drivetrain and dragged him to a halt. (Guerini still won the stage.) But Jacques-Mayne was still in the race and the cardinal rule of race-watching is Don’t Interfere With The Race. Honestly, fan craziness was not much of a concern the first few days of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. But the race really came to life on Independence Pass. George Hincapie scouted the climb the week before the race and recalled thinking, “This is in the middle of nowhere; there won’t be any people here.” Try 20,000. It got bigger after that. Every racer or director I talked to compared it to the Tour de France, and my own experience told me they weren’t just blowing sunshine. Colorado showed up huge. But I also want us to show up smart. And I have a theory where we go wrong: like all social commentators, I blame TV. U.S. fans seem to model themselves on what they see from the Tour de France or, rather, the craziest parts of the Tour. The fans who get the most TV time in the Tour are typically the Basques, identified by the orange flags with white and green stripes. They are the soccer hooligans of bike racing, people. Taking cues from them is like modeling alcohol consumption on spring break at South Padre Island. The solution is simple: have fun, be crazy. But be responsible; don’t get in the racers’ way. Levi Leipheimer, winner of the inaugural Challenge, has a good rule of thumb for fans running near the racers. Run alongside, never in front. How close can you run? “Far enough that if you reach

calm and collected: “i don’t see any basques HerE.”

out your arm you can’t touch us.” Be loud; get crazy; have fun. By all means, throw as much beer as you want on my rental car; I got the insurance waiver. But when the riders come, don’t be too close.

Joe Lindsey covers pro cycling for Bicycling magazine.

turn it up

Behave? Is that what I’m hearing? I’m all for getting the riders to the finish in one piece, but as for toning it down and behaving like model citizens, I must utter a polite, hell no. I say take the Basques as a baseline... and then have a bump, down some Red Bull, and ratchet your game up three notches further. The riders should be unmolested in their heroics, but they should also be left thinking, What is wrong with these people?! We may not have the cycling tradition in this country of the Dutch, French or Italians, but then we’ve got the world’s biggest rollercoasters, the Bill of Rights and we’re 2-0 in world wars. We’ve got a standard to uphold here, people. I say tattoo your face, paint your body cerulean blue, dig up your costumes, call your buds, ditch work, taunt your boss, mail-order a vuvuzela (or three), renew that psychotropic drug prescription, dust off the long-since-retired mania for sports, and head to your favorite stage finish. And make a scene. A loud, jubilant, original, memorable, what’s-France-got-on-us gong show of roadside bipolarism gone horribly awry, and let it all hang out. The Flagstaff stage is the most easily accessible spot for this year’s event, so I’ll plan on seeing you there. (Further, I recall a meeting with city planners, more than a decade ago, in which they said, rather too emphatically, there will never be another bike race on the hallowed

hill above Boulder.) Let’s turn that frickin’ pile of rock into a 1,500-foot tower of Burning Man meets Mad Max, with a few manorexic Lycra warriors thrown in just to give us a reason to do it. Obey the few rules that matter—no flamethrowers, no knocking the boys off their bikes, no picking wildflowers—but beyond that, enjoy the hell out of yourself. And let’s make sure the riders go to bed that night thinking, What is wrong with these people? The answer? Nothing. Nothing at all.

buttingheads

Cowbell Cliche?

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge—a grueling seven-day road-bike stage race in August that criss-crosses Colorado—took the state by storm last year. And with a penultimate finish atop Boulder’s Flagstaff Mountain this summer, the race promises to draw even more revelers cheering the dudes in tight pants as they whip by at crazy speeds. But did the fans overdo it last year? Joe Lindsey certainly thought so, but Rob Coppolillo thinks he’s nuts. So we let the two duke it out in these pages and left it up to you to decide how you will spectate come August.

alsport international

D E B AT E

Rob Coppolillo blogs at ElevationOutdoors.com. He used to race bikes, in front of vast crowds numbering in the tens of people.

Reader Response from the Web Because in the world of anonymous online comments everyone has a say.

Most of the fans were exactly on target: very enthusiastic but respectful. Like in so many parts of life there were a few who demonstrated their lack of concern for everyone else. The most obvious examples were the two guys who changed into Speedos, attempted to run with the time trial riders, and crashed into many other spectators, in a foolish and unsuccessful attempt to get on TV. —Michael Cassidy

Get ready for our next question, dear readers: Should you date within your sport or play the field? Let us know and butt heads at ElevationOutdoors.com

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APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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gearguide

BEST GEAR BIKES

Wild Rides

It has been a long winter, but now it’s time to get back on the dirt and pavement with the best bikes EO put to the test this spring. by Doug Schnitzspahn

mountain

Yeti SB-66 Carbon

Why It Won: This bike is buttah. Quite simply, it’s a 6-inch travel trail bike that can climb with the guts of an XC ride, making it ideal for much of the Front Range. That climbing superpower comes thanks to both the stiff, 6-pound carbon frame and Yeti’s Switch rear suspension, a dual link design, which features a low pivot point and makes what would otherwise be a big bike an extremely efficient pedaling machine. Will you hammer your racecrazy buddies on XC bikes? No, but you will climb better than any of your trail bike bros, and when it comes to the down that 6-inches of rear travel sucks up the gnarliest of terrain for one big, plush ride. Plus, Yeti is a local brand. Where to Ride It: The gang at Yeti rides the Apex trail out of Golden (see page 33) pretty much everyday, so you could say this bike was made for challenging singletrack with big, nasty terrain. But we liked it so much because it performed everywhere we took it—from the rock drops of Moabs’s Mag 7 system to the flowing ribbon of Loveland’s Devil’s Backbone. $3,000 (frame), $4,500 (build with SRAM and Fox 32 F150 RLC front fork) ; yeticylces.com

road

Giant TCR Advanced 0 Why It Won: Giant is a big bike manufacturer (one of the biggest companies in Taiwan, actually), but that massive reach has enabled it to offer a sweet composite ride like this at an economic-downturn-friendly price. Giant’s size also means the brand was able to fully integrate everything on this bike—frame, bottom bracket, wheels, everything was designed to work as a unit here instead of being pieced together from various manufacturers. That all adds up to a race bike that’s stiff and responsive. It climbs with authority and bombs with confidence. Plus, it’s outfitted with Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting, which allows for precise gear changes on the fly—just the type of no-fuss performance you want in a race. Where to Ride: Sure, this is your race-day bike, but it’s also ideal for training with your hard-charging posse. $4,550; giant-bicycles.com

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BEST GEAR BIKES

drool over it

gearguide

Trek Madone 6.9 SSL

Ups: It might be worth the money just to own what is one of the best machines hand-built in the good old U.S.A. The Madone series is Trek’s top of the line—it’s the bike to buy when you have made the jump from weekend ride guy to serious racer. (Or maybe you just work at Crispin Porter and want to burn some cash? We don’t judge if you have this baby between your thighs.) The proof is in the ride. It simply handles better than any other road bike we have tested, giving you the confidence to push descents. Downs: Do you really need this bike? Assess yourself before you spend. $8,720; trekbicylces.com

below the belt Spot Rocker SS Ti

Ups: Our dirty little secret? This is our bike of choice for almost every day ride. Forget for a moment that it’s a 29er belt-drive singlespeed. Just hop on the thing and feel how much fun it is to ride. That Gates Carbon Drive Belt system gives the bike incredible guts. Instead of being left behind by your geared brethren on the climbs, the bike eats into them with incredible efficiency. It’s no slouch on the downhills either—a smooth, silent assassin that doesn’t require an emergency downshift when the trail suddenly heads back up. And if you ever tire of your singlespeed ways, it can be converted into a geared bike. Downs: It is overmatched on steep, loose ups. $3,899 (frame), $6,199 (built), the steel Rocker SS rings in at $3,299 built; spotbrand.com

smooth cruising Schwinn Super Deluxe

Ups: We all started on Schwinns—beating up our banana seat bikes over handmade jumps, going no-hands downhill, cruising to 7-11. This baby gives you that same old-school, bikingis-for-fun feel with some grown-up pluses. First, that big cushy seat is built for those of us who have gotten a bit bigger and a bit cushier. And the pliable Springer Fork gives it some give when you take it over a curb after a margarita or two. In short, it’s the perfect ride for your weekend trip to the farmers’ market. Downs: It’s pricey for a cruiser. $660; schwinn.com

electric slide OHM Sport XS750

Ups: Electric bikes are for fat people, right? Wrong. All it took was two pedal-assisted turns of the cranks and we fell in love with this machine. It is more than just an e-bike—it features Shimano XT componentry, hydraulic brakes and an 80 mm front fork. But the real fun is the motor. You can set the level of pedal assist to feel bionic, set it on resistance mode so it turns like a spin bike and recharges the battery (a good idea on long downhills), or—and here’s when the real fun comes in—just push in the thumb throttle and hold on (though it legally can’t go over 25 m.p.h.). It’s invaluable for long, bike-path commutes but we also took it out on Boulder’s Marshall Mesa singletrack—and scared the dog walkers. Downs: There’s a lot to break. $4,399; ohmcycles.com APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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gearguide

BEST GEAR BIKES

pounding the pavement Raleigh Militis 3

Ups: This stallion may be the only bike you need. Stiff, light high-modulus carbon pairs up with a frame design and geometry that we found just as comfortable in competition as it was slogging up Mount Evans. And as Travolta would say, the real difference, though, is in the little details—internal cable routing and full SRAM Red Componentry. That incredible build shone through on the pavement, where this bike impressed our group-ride geeks. If the price tag scares you off, the equally impressive Militis 2, which also features SRAM Red, is half the price at $3,300 (and the Militis 1 is just $2,500 for a carbon bike). Downs: The geometry may be a bit too aggressive for day-to-day riding for some of the low-back-challenged among us. $6,500; raleigh.com

big wheel Moots MX Divide

Ups: We always expect big things from Steamboat-based Moots, but the bike builder truly exceeded out expectations with this full suspension 29er. But it was more than the magic of those big wheels (come on, how can you not love the little extra 29-inch wheels give you when tackling a technical uphill problem and the way they simply rail in big banked turns). The brand’s Fusion Link suspension, a single-pivot-link system that’s designed to impart power when you crank the bike uphill, thoroughly impressed us. Sure, it felt solid on the ups but it was when it engaged on the downs, effortlessly adapting to jaw-jarring terrain at full speed, that we fell in love with this ride. Oh, and since it’s built of ti, the frame weighs in at a scant 5.75 pounds. Please, Moots, can we keep it? Downs: We are still trying to think of one. $4,995; moots.com

Winner of t h e 2011 M o u n t ai n S t at e s C u p

C o l o r a d o’s

We’ll beat any advertised price. Gravity » MTB » Cyclocross » Road


BEST GEAR BIKES

gearguide

race ready Cannondale Scalpel 2

Ups: Meet your race machine. It’s all about ounces when you are looking for a competitor and the carbon frame on the Scalpel weighs in at a ridonkulous 3.47 pounds (and don’t forget Cannondale’s odd “lefty” fork design which is only half a fork arm, cutting out more weight). But it’s not twitchy on the trail—that carbon is quite stiff and the brand’s Zero Pivot stay system, which cuts out bearings and bushings to cut down on weight even more, offers 80 mm of rear travel. It’s not the ride for Moab but enough to keep you comfortably on track in a race (or hammering your so-called friends). And that weird fork? It takes some getting used to aesthetically, but you soon forget about it in the heat of battle. All this comes at a fairly reasonable price. Downs: While it’s a great race or pain-fest bike, it’s not the tool for big, technical rides. $5,000; cannondale.com

downhill / bike park Kona Entourage

Ups: Remember when riding a bike was nothing but fun? Forget all that XC huffing and puffing—here is a ride designed to simply flow and crush it. Based in BC, Kona understands exactly how to produce a bike that can handle that breed of North Shore freestyle riding that requires all the oomph of a big downhill dozer and the agility of an enduro ride. With a 170 mm Rock Shox Domain R CL front fork, the Entourage can suck up all the big hits of a downhill course, but short chainstays and top tube make it both nimble and steady when adroit movements are required. Put all that together, and you have more than just a good machine for Winter Park and Keystone, but the absolutely perfect denizen for the local bike park (see page 35). Downs: That short top tube can feel disconcerting at times. $2,799; konaworld.com

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BEST GEAR

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9

11 10

1. Nonetheless NeoShell Weatherproof Jeans This Chicago-based bike apparel manufacturer understands the challenges of riding to work in foul weather. So they built these pants out of Polartec’s new NeoShell fabric, which offers all the weatherproof protection of the best membranes and even more breathability. The result? You are dry and don’t stink when you roll in for that 9 a.m. meeting. $250; nonethelessgarments.com

2. Gregory Wasatch 12

twisting mechanism to adjust helmet snugness on-the-fly. Its 290 grams only outweighs its price. $230; lazerhelmets.com

5. Pearl Izumi Launch Kicker Unless you got what it takes, no one wants to see you hangin’ in the cafe in those tight shorts, bro. This 2-in1 short features removable tighties, nicely hidden away in bro-style four-way stretch shorts with big pockets and an adjustable waistband. $130; pearlizumi.com

The prime rule of a bike pack—you don’t want to know the thing is on your back. Gregory achieves just that thanks to a suspension system that moves with the torso. It was designed to mimic the way ligaments and tendons function in the body. Sure, it sounds wanky, but we barely felt it during a sevenhour, 40-mile desert singletrack epic in Fruita’s Rabbit Valley. $80; gregorypacks.com

6. Specialized Rime with Boa

3. Rudy Project Ryzer

7. GU Roctane Drink

Rudy’s standby bike shades stay on your head no matter how hard you are charging thanks to soft, easy-to-adjust arms and come with a ton of lens options to deal with ever-changing light conditions on the trail and the road. rudyproject.com

GU packed its liquid version with carbs and electrolytes, making it powerful yet easy to imbibe when mid-ride. $29 (box of 10); guenergy.com

4. Lazer Helium Lazer’s helmets have become a staple of the professional cyclocross peloton, covering the domes of the who’s-who from Fort Collins to Flanders. The Helium is the brand’s high-end lid for racers, tapping Lazer’s staple RollSys retention technology, a simple

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The Boa lacing system isn’t really lacing at all (in fact, the brand’s mission is to make laces obsolete). Simply dial in and metal cords cinch your foot in place in the shoe. It’s an ideal system for biking, when you never want to think about tying or adjusting your shoes in the midst of a grueling ride. $175; specialized.com

packs to extend the life of your phone for those super long rides. Wahoo has built its own apps but also provides a library of other apps (Apple and Android) that work with its sensors. wahoofitness.com

9. Cy-Fi Wireless Sports Speaker This baby lets you bike to your tunes. Considering it’s illegal in many instances—not to mention, um, totally unsafe—to ride with headphones, here’s a solution. Mount the Cy-Fi Wireless Sports Speaker to your bike and let the music rip. Granted, you probably shouldn’t play it too loud otherwise you’ll be just as dangerous as you were wearing headphones. The Bluetooth version can also used as a speakerphone to grab a call. $160; rei.com

10. Hokey Spokes Are just that, totally hokey. But some cycling situations warrant some silliness. Add these lightbars to the spokes of your wheels and you’ll be riding on light disks of various patters or display your own custom text message up to 16 characters long. $30 each; hokeyspokes.com

11. Outdoor Research Sensor Gloves 8. Wahoo Fitness This company provides the full kit that will allow you to use your smartphone to track your fitness progress. Using ANT+ sensor and data transfer technology, Wahoo offers a range of products, including integrated crank and speed sensors, waterproof/shockproof cases, handle/aero bar mounts, heart rate monitors and even battery

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The Touch Tech leather on the finger tips of these warm gloves was designed so that you can operate your smart phone touchscreen while wearing them. Just don’t Facebook mid-ride, please. $65; outdoorresearch.com —Cameron Martindell, Craig Randall and Doug Schnitzsphan


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W H AT A G I R L W A N T S

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You Dirty Girl Our picks for the season’s best new women’s mountain biking gear are for ladies who like to get after it on singletrack.

the cover up after you ride

Colorful skirts to cover your shorts after you reach your destination. $34 / $38

by JAYME MOYE

1. Specialized Fate Comp Carbon 29er

4. Road ID Wrist ID Slim

Meet the first and only women’s carbon hardtail 29er. While the style has been riling up male gear-hounds for the last couple years, women have been hard-pressed to fit on the taller frame that goes along with 29-inch wheels. Specialized solved that problem by designing a lower stand over height, a very short head tube and specifically tuned forks for lighter weight. Need proof? The five-foot seveninch tall Rebecca Rusch won Leadville on this bike last year. $2,900; specialized.com

Now you can add your identification info to that Livestrong or other cause bracelet. Designed to be compatible with silicone bracelets, this stainless steel plate has room for five lines of emergency contact information, or choose the interactive version that gives a web link leading to more extensive medical data and contact instructions. Don’t have a favorite cause bracelet? Choose one from Road ID, available in seven different colors and included in the price of the plate. $16; roadid.com

2. Osprey Verve 7 Osprey’s hard-backed reservoir system prevents sloshing and barreling while you’re cranking on the bike, and makes it easy to put the reservoir into your pack when it’s full. The women’s specific Verve pack is a touch shorter than the men’s version and features the same built-in magnet for quick bite-valve attachment. It’s available in four different sizes, and we found the one-pound Verve 7 perfect for 2+ hour rides—there’s enough space for a pump, tube, multitool and phone, and the bungee lacing system will stash an extra layer. $79; ospreypacks.com

3. Club Ride Bandara Jersey and Eden Shorts Named for the club rides in Europe that always involve après cycling socialization, this Sun Valley, Idaho, company aims to create apparel that ensures the tourists won’t look at you funny in the coffee shop or brewpub after your ride. We love the western-inspired Bandara jersey, which features RideDryWear, a lightweight, quick drying stretch fabric. Pearl snap buttons add fun fashion flair, and back zippered storage pockets and a media port ensure function. Pair with the Eden Shorts, made of the same fabulous fabric with a flirty seven-inch inseam and a removable coolmax brief-cut liner. $90 each; clubrideapparel.com

5. BG Ridge WireTap Proportional sizing for women’s palm width and finger length are what make this glove women’s specific. It also includes BG mountain padding designed for optimal bar control and to relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve. The micro-width Velcro closure is a nice touch that helps enable unrestricted movement for smaller wrists. But what really makes this glove stand out is the WireTap technology built into the index finger that allows you to use any touch screen device without removing the glove. $45; specialized.com

6. Keen Women’s Springwater II In case you didn’t know, Keen has been making SPDcompatible mountain bike shoes for three years now, with the same lightweight durability and secure fit of other shoes in their line. The Springwater II is brand new this season and features a moisture wicking lining to keep feet dry, a removable metatomical footbed for comfort on long rides and a sturdy rubber outsole for those times when you have to hoof it. The shoes come in half sizes and weigh 12 ounces each. $110; keenfootwear.com •

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brew with a

Earn Your Beer

clue

Some of Jefferson County’s best singletrack starts in Golden. Hit these rides before you imbibe.

Chimney Gulch

Steve Zdawczynski/steve-z.com

Hidden in the depths of Golden’s MillerCoors plant is a microbrewery by the name of AC Golden, dedicated to bringing authentic Colorado craft beer to market. by Jayme Moye The Coors Brewing Company, now MillerCoors for those of you not paying attention, operates the largest single brewery facility in the world. The ginormous factory in Golden, complete with smokestacks and acres of paved parking lots, doesn’t exactly call to mind small-batch handcrafted beer. Yet deep inside the monstrosity known as MillerCoors lives a little microbrewery by the name of AC Golden. It started in 2007, when Coors executives calculated that it cost anywhere from $18 to $35 million to launch a new brand, and that 95% of new brands failed. “Once Pete Coors realized that, he was determined to do it a different way,” says AC Golden’s co-founder Glenn Knippenberg, aka Knip. The pair decided to develop a go-to-market strategy modeled after craft breweries—small batches, small budget, little advertising. Once a beer demonstrates a substantial grassroots following, it will become part of MillerCoors’ regular lineup. “AC Golden is essentially an incubator brewery, structured as a wholly-owned subsidiary of MillerCoors,” Knip says. AC Golden opened inside the pilot brewing area of the MillerCoors plant later that year, using 30-barrel brew kettles, as compared to regular 500-barrel kettles. Currently, six brewers work for AC Golden, creating three different craft beers and a variety of experimental one-offs. Their most well known creation (although few realize it’s a MillerCoors venture) is Colorado Native, an amber lager that’s the first and only beer made with 100 percent Colorado ingredients.

“Our barley is from the San Luis Valley, our hops from the Western Slope and the Front Range, even our water is from the Rocky Mountains,” says brewer Steve Fletcher, aka, Fletch. “Using only what’s available in the state has been part science and part art. And a lot of fun.” • Colorado Native is currently only available in Colorado. For more information go to coloradonativelager.com

the second largest brewery in golden Coors isn’t the only show in town. Golden City Brewery (gcbrewery. com) was founded in 1993 by two geologists, Charlie and Janine Sturdavant, in an old machine shop behind their house. Today, the pair produces five brews, ranging from ales to stouts, and serves them in the backyard beer garden of their historic Golden home on 12th Street. Besides quality craft beer and good vibes, GCB is known for the occasional Irish ballad sung aloud after last-call. Open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Ride out to the base of Lookout Mountain to start this epic climb, offering fantastic views of the Clear Creek corridor, Golden, Denver and beyond, and a grueling 1,400 feet of elevation gain in 5.4 miles. A short, flat start gives way to super-tight, supersteep switchbacks that last a couple hundred yards (beginners and beer guts may have to hike-a-bike). The climb mellows out after that, but stays in the “steep” category. You’ll find smooth singletrack punctuated by some rocky sections, along with some very challenging technical rocky spots.

Apex Park These eight miles of rowdy singletrack can be accessed from the south end of Golden, or from the top by climbing Chimney Gulch and then riding over to descend Apex. Don’t be fooled by the trail’s proximity to the city— this is advanced terrain with steep climbs, rocky singletrack and exposed hillsides.

White Ranch If you don’t mind pounding out a couple miles of road, or driving, White Ranch serves up about 20 miles of technical singletrack with less crowds than the closer-in Chimney Gulch and Apex Park trails. The initial climb from the parking lot is a quintessential Colorado granny-gear ascent. Expect a memorable ride with killer views, wildlifesightings, steep grades, fast descents and loose rock.

South Table and North Table Mountains Right in Golden’s backyard, these twin mesas overlook the Coors Brewery. North Table contains ten miles of alternating single and doubletrack, and South Table is about eight miles of doubletrack. From the road, they look fairly tame, but there are steep, rocky sections. Choose from a variety of different trail options ranging from 30-minute quickies to two-hour epics. The mesas are a great option when trails on the west side of Golden are still melting out. —J.M.

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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Nik Berry | Aspiring RN | Big Wall Free Climber | Salt Lake City, UT At OR we know finding perfect balance takes hard work. So does Nik Berry, an aspiring RN who traded the seasonal migrations of a climber’s lifestyle to burn through pre-requisites on his path to nursing school. For a guy who redpointed Yosemite’s “ledge-to-ledge” version of the Salathé Wall as the first “team-free” ascent (VI 5.13d), camping out in a library chair to study for Anatomy and Physiology midterms required a bit of a mindshift. But the Utah-only limit forced Nik to climb locally, leading to the first free ascent of Wonderboy (5.13c) on Lone Peak and Lunar X (5.13) in Zion. The dichotomy of an inside/outside lifestyle has taught him a new appreciation for free time on the rock, but a flexible profession he can take from town to town will make hitting the books worth it in the end. Learn more at outdoorresearch.com/verticulture.


katherine fuller

Gear UP

The Park’s the Place

Bike parks are on the rise throughout Colorado, bringing the mountains to the town and building new communities of riders. But will bike parks invigorate the economy? by Mark Eller For most mountain bikers, there’s no better feeling than surfing along a twisty, narrow trail on a multi-hour ride. The Rocky Mountains offer nearly unlimited opportunities for backcountry biking adventures—but it’s not always possible to steal away for an epic adventure. Enter the latest trend in mountain biking: bike parks. Designed and built especially for bikes, these facilities offer everything from jaw-dropping stunts to beginner-level trails. While an in-town setting doesn’t provide the escape of a long ride in the mountains, bike parks are highly accessible and a great way to improve cycling fitness and skill levels. There’s a new crop of Front Range bike parks

(see sidebar) that cater to off-road riding. They range in scale from Boulder’s Valmont Bike Park—which covers more than 40 acres and has been described in cycling media as one of the top bike parks on the planet—to community-based facilities constructed by enthusiasts with mostly volunteer labor. “It’s been exciting to see the explosion in popularity,” says Lee McCormack, who teaches mountain bike skills clinics at Valmont. “The parks really have a broad appeal. Dads and moms, older and younger siblings can all find elements that challenge them, while staying in close proximity to each other.” And, says McCormack, when you do get out for

You don’t need anything more than a wellmaintained bike with knobby tires to ride the beginner-level trails at most bike parks, but as you work your way up the difficulty ladder, you might consider investing in some specialized equipment:

If you’re used to riding clipped into your pedals, consider using flat pedals, and riding in sneakers or mountain bike-specific shoes without cleats. You’ll appreciate the ability to get a foot down quickly when you tackle challenging bike park trails. Expect to spend $60–$120 on pedals and about the same on shoes. Wear bike gloves, particularly ones that cover the entire length of your fingers, to ensure you don’t leave gobs of skin on the trail. You can find good ones for $30–$50. A full-face helmet protects your cranium and your mug. Pricier than a head-protection-only bike helmet (the minimum, and required at many parks) but much cheaper than reconstructive face surgery. About $100-$300. Pad up with knee and elbow protectors—they fend off slipped pedals and minor spills. You’ll pay $50–$100 per set. Take your protection level up a notch with body armor that wraps around your torso. A bigger investment at $150– $400. A dirt jump bike lets you tackle the big features and gnarly terrain in the park. Prices range from $400 to $5,000.

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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the elements of a bike park

“Bike parks are absolutely one of the hottest trends in the sport,” says Chris Bernhardt, the director of trail building programs for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Requests for IMBA’s Trail Solutions team to create trail systems in urban and suburban settings have more than doubled in recent years. “We used to spend most of our time deep in the woods, figuring out how to route trails across ridge tops and stream valleys, but these days we’re just as likely to create a trail system next to a ball field or a subdivision,” he says. Bike parks offer a high density of trails in a small footprint, with an emphasis on challenging features. Common elements include tight turns, quick changes in trail steepness and obstacles constructed from wood, steel or rock. Jump lines are popular—the best park designs offer multiple options ranging from tiny bumps all the way up to massive jumps that launch skilled riders into the clouds. “Since you’re not traveling long distances and soaking up lots of scenery, you’ve got to keep the rider engaged with multiple trail features that test their balance and bike handling ability,” says Bernhardt. “The key for a successful park design is

to make sure that mountain bikers at any skill level can identify the trails and features that will present the right level of difficulty, so they can tackle them and get ready to progress to the next level.”

is it safe?

Riding in a bike park offers a more controlled setting than remote trails that might not see regular maintenance or may put riders miles away from help in an emergency. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt. Nat Lopes operates Hilride Progression Development, a company that designs and builds bike parks all over the country. “It’s always a scary thing to see an inexperienced rider approach a jump or feature that’s beyond his skill level,” says Lopes. “Good bike parks provide opportunities for riders to build their skills incrementally by starting out on smaller, more beginner-level features and working up to try more advanced elements. But even with the best designed park you ultimately can’t prevent a rider from making a mistake or a poor decision.” If you’re wondering how the cities and communities that host bike parks can afford the risk of a costly lawsuit, remember that governments are able to limit their exposure through laws that shield them from many kinds of legal challenges. They can also set limits how much they will have to pay even if a suit succeeds. “It’s a common question,” says Mike Eubank, who manages Valmont Bike Park for the City of Boulder. “We strive to make the park as safe as possible with measures like clear signage to indicate park features, a trail rating system to indicate levels of difficulty and near-constant

katherine fuller

that remote singletrack journey, the practice you’ve logged in the park will pay off. “I’m riding better than ever on trails—smoother, faster and more controlled—because of all the time I spend honing my technique in a park context,” says McCormack.

going big: Bike parks give kids a chance to hone thier skills and catch up to their parents.

Moots • Orbea • Ellsworth • Transition Pivot • Ridley

Explore

COLORADO

by Bike

BikeByways.org Photo Courtesy Colorado Tourism Office

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

37


katherine fuller

chance to ride with other kids, and they immediately want to do the tricks that they see the older riders doing.” The fearlessness and ambition of a sevenyear-old park rider is an awesome thing to behold (although it will also put a lump in any parent’s throat). Like the skier grommets that burn past their elders on Colorado’s ski terrain, older riders can now look forward to humiliation and inspiration in the summer months as well. • Mark Eller is the communications director for the Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

“we don’t need no stinkin’ west Tsa”

community benefits

One of the best things about bikes parks is that they give local riders a meeting place and foster a sense of community. “Mountain bikers are often strong-willed, independent-minded people,” says Terry Breheny, who spearheaded the Golden Bike Park project as president of the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA). With a budget that was just a fraction of Valmont’s, the Golden project relied heavily on volunteerism and contributions from local bike shops and businesses to defray costs. “It wasn’t easy to coordinate volunteer workday schedules and keep everyone excited about creating

the park” says Breheny. “But everyone is stoked now that it’s finished.” A typical weekend crowd at the Golden park includes teenagers catching air on BMX bikes, families with riding with their kids and even a few racer-types in Lycra pumping out laps for a workout. Breheny says that bike parks provide for a style of mountain biking that can be hard to find on the Front Range. “If you’re a freerider, a downhiller or a dirt jumper, you’re not going to find enough challenge on the multi-use trails that we share with hikers and equestrians. But in the parks, a rider can blast the descents and hit the jumps, without worrying about landing on a pack of bird watchers.” There’s one group that seems to relish any bike park trail or feature. “Kids absolutely love bike parks,” says McCormack. “They groove on the

fall 2012 Explore the Other Side of Colorado Join us for a cycling adventure across Colorado's eastern plains to discover great rides, delicious eats, and great friends. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive route announcements, registration opportunities and invites to special events.

September 21-23 For more information

www.pedaltheplains.com

Colorado

Governor John Hickenlooper

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Go There Ready to try riding in a bike park? Here are the options on the Front Range:

Barnum North Denver Golden Bike Park Golden Lory State Park Fort Collins Lyons Bike Park Lyons Red Rock Park Colorado Springs Rock Creek Superior Ryolite Castle Rock Spring Canyon Fort Collins Valmont Boulder

3 days

To discover what colorado s high plains are all about.

maintenance by an expert crew of trail workers. The park also offers cycling programs and classes to improve skills for kids as well as adults.”


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EVENTS

By Jayme Moye Spring Fever April • Breckenridge Get your spring fever ya yas out by entering Brecks iconic rite-of-passage spring comps, which include the Massive Slopestyle Competition and the Imperial Challenge, a pseudo-triathlon featuring a bike-skin-ski course. The Bud Light Concert Series, Spring Beer Festival and Après Ski Bar Crawl will also be back, along with our personal favorite: the Mascot Olympics. gobreck.com

calendar

courtesy vail resorts

Closing Time

Celebrate the end of winter with corn snow and a healthy dose of debauchery at these resort-closing shindigs.

resorts in the age of global warming: or end-of-season frivolity?

51st Annual Loveland Derby April 14-15 • Loveland Expect up to 600 competitors, many in costume, for not only the largest, but also the oldest amateur slalom ski race in North America. The entire mountain shuts down, as all of the main ski runs are required for the races. Not into competition? Volunteers earn free lift tickets for next season. And everyone is welcome at the rowdy post-derby BBQ. lovelandracing.com/derby

Spring Back to Vail April 9-15 • VAIL Spring Back to Vail is a weeklong extravaganza with free concerts and an on-mountain filmmaking competition open to both professionals and amateurs. The week culminates with the World Pond Skimming Competition, quite possibly the most fun you’ll ever have watching people on skis. Costumed participants launch themselves off an on-snow run across a 100-foot pond in an attempt to successfully exit the pond on both feet. springbacktovail.com

August 14-19, 2012 It’s impossible to say the word schneetag, German for “snow day,” without smiling. Similarly, it’s impossible to partake in, or spectate at, Aspen Mountain’s annual Schneetag without laughing your ass off. Teams of four pilot a homemade vessel down the slope in front of Bonnie’s Restaurant in an attempt to sail across a 30-foot pond at the bottom. Teams must perform a skit before descending, and are judged on costumes, creativity and flight distance. aspensnowmass.com

6th Annual Parking Lot Cook-Off and Tailgate Party April 15 • Monarch Mountain Monarch’s annual cook-off party is designed to bring out a ton of laughs, and closet chefs willing to do just about anything to win next year’s season pass. Contestants are judged on their culinary skills, style and spirit, which means the food and costumes get hilariously creative. And don’t forget about the Kayaks on Snow event

the bike

the week before, where competitors race down a specially designed course on the mountain (read: bumps and berms) in a kayak, ending in an icy pond paddle race. skimonarch.com

Springalicious April 14-15 • Steamboat Crazed costumed skiers and boarders go careening down the mountain in attempt to propel themselves across the pond at the bottom. Like most pond skimming comps, competitors are judged on costumes and distance, but Steamboat adds crowd response, so bring your most raucous friends. steamboat.com

Hey, this is a bike issue, right? If you have had enough of snow, get training and ready your legs and lungs for the best local series around. The Rocky Mountain Endurance Series features five events throughout the season, with marathon, half marathon and cross country disciplines at each. The Voodoo Fire (April 21) kicks the series off in Pueblo. The Ridgeline Rampage (May 5) moves up to Castle Rock. Battle the Bear (May 19) pits riders against the trails at Bear Creek Lake Park in Morrison. The Breckenridge 100 (July 15) moves up into the mountains. And the finals commence at the PV Cycle Derby (August 5) at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch in Elbert. Finishers in the top 10 at each race receive points and an overall champion is crowned at the end of the season. Make it you. warriorscycling.com Annette hayden

Schneetag

and back to

Sunsation April 14-15 • Copper Mountain The end of ski season isn’t so tragic at Copper, thanks to Woodward, a year-round ski and snowboard training facility featuring a 19,400-square-foot indoor playground. But just in case you’re feeling blue, there’s plenty of closing weekend festivities and free concerts as part of the annual Sunsation celebration. coppersunsation.com

Coca-Cola Spring Splash April 22 • Winter Park Winter Park boasts the oldest pond skimming competition—44 years to be exact. Participants come out of the starting gate backward, and navigate an absurd obstacle course before attempting the ubiquitous icy pond in hopes of reaching the finish line on the other side. Unlike some of the other pond skimming comps, this one is judged on time, which adds a comical sense of urgency. Stick around for the free live music afterward. skiwinterpark.com •

The series endures: the FR60 Marathon

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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June 23 2012

Boulder Serving all riders of the Monarch Crest Trail, road, dirt & path.

Come Carve a Canyon in Boulder The route is a local’s favorite loop covering the best road in Boulder. If you’re new to mountain riding the 75 is a great way to cut your teeth on tall climbs. Strong riders, the full 100 will crack the winter rust off your legs for a great season to follow.

NEW for 2012 A pair of packet pickup parties — A new structured mass-start — Top-secret energy boost at mile 40 — Plus a whole new expo experience with live music, vendors, sponsors & more at the finish Included in Registration Fee — 7 Fully stocked & staffed aid stations — — Bike repair assistance at aid stations & start — — Very well-marked route & maps — — Sag vehicle assistance — — Post-ride meal & sponsor expo — — Sports massage courtesy of Massage Envy — — Your new favorite tee shirt to show off your success —

Massage Envy Boulder

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B A C K YA R D A D V E N T U R E

theroad

jeff kerkove

sonya looney

Don’t Fear the Dark When an endurance mountain bike racer decides to go one step further and commit to solo selfsupported bikepacking, she blows away her fears and reaches a new level in her riding.

jeff kerkove

by Sonya Looney

It’s pitch dark. I am immediately reminded of one of those cartoon scenes when there’s a black screen with nothing but wide, white, terrified eyes. I want to laugh but the image brings little relief to my first night alone in the woods. Oh, come on. I tell myself. I thought I got over my fear of the dark when I was eight. But I am alone. And I know the lions are out there. The last time I spoke to anyone was five hours ago when I told my roommate, “If I don’t see you again, it was nice knowing you!” I chuckled, he didn’t see the humor. Neither do I now. From the start, the idea of solo self-supported bikepacking was intringuing yet intimidating to me, kind of like wanting to pet a cactus or get a little too close to the edge of a cliff. Could I do it? Did I want to do it? I had never been backpacking or spent a night alone in the mountains. Beyond being along in the dark, two big fears gnawed at me—mountain lions and lightning. Although getting eaten alive by a mountain lion is unlikely, it’s not an unwarranted fear. On rides at dusk, I have felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up—they were watching me. But all

this fear—of the dark, of being eaten, of failure—is necessary. One of my most inspiring realizations of 2011 was that vulnerability unlocks emotions at the deepest level—disappointment, exuberance, elation, uncertainty. Risk taking is an art. Taking a chance widens the scope of being alive, whether it is through triumphant success or heartbreaking failure. I was ready to try something new and solo bikepacking seemed to perfect solution. I combed backpacking websites for the best backcountry gear. Lightweight equipment is a significant piece of the puzzle since, as any fastpacker will tell you, every gram counts. But pedaling a bike up a hill with extra weight is even harder than walking uphill with a pack. Basic human creature comforts were suddenly up for debate. To save weight, I opted for a tarp and bivy sack over a tent and I chose to forego the extra ounces of a stove to make hot food and water. The next subject to broach was exactly how I was going to carry my gear. Stuffing it all in a backpack makes it almost impossible to ride with the balance you need to tackle singletrack or even a

dirt road climb. Luckily, there are a few companies that make custom frame bags along with top tube bags and giant seat bags. I chose a small company in Alaska called Revelate Designs based on good reviwes from friends. Each bag is handmade. I traced the “blueprint” and took my frame measurements. Just like that, I was commiting myself to nights alone in the dark.

M

y first solo trip was not nearly as dramatic as I’d like to think. My plan was to head up the mountain for one night and return the next morning. The truth was that I had been dreading it all week. The biking itself, though slow, was not difficult. My fears focused on mountain lions, particularly because I had seen their tracks in the snow on a hike-a-bike training day months before. I suddenly wished I had carried the weight of a tent. After a few hours of riding, the sun began to sink behind the horizon and the magnitude of my fear increased. It was only a minor detail that I had never slept outside alone or without tent walls APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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B A C K YA R D A D V E N T U R E

jeff kerkove

theroad

push it real good: Sonya looney making the fully-loaded slog up mount antero.

around me. I was isolated that night. I thought I could feel the mountain lions watching me, and my eyes frantically scanned the darkness having become that wide-eyed (and vulnerable) cartoon character. As a thick blanket of darkness swallowed the area, I scrambled to set up my resting place for the night. I fumbled with the bivy and tarp with nervous hands and tried not to look into the woods fearing I would see a pair of eyes gleaming back at me. The tarp was anchored to the bar-end of my bike grip and a few points in the ground. I was seeking security in a shallow nylon shell covering my head. Every sound interrupting the silence of night made my heart flutter. I wondered if I was going to have a panic attack. I thought about how I was missing all those gorgeous stars that are normally muted by city lights, but I was too chicken to look outside. Just one little glimpse, I’d tell myself, but I couldn’t do it. I clutched a small canister of pepper spray in one hand all night long. I glanced at my watch every twenty minutes that night, anxiously counting down the minutes to dawn. Time seemed to move in slow motion. The confidence I normally carried was gone. I was reduced to a silly ostrich with its head buried in the sand, except my head was buried in a small nylon tarp whose rustling in the wind was freaking me out. When morning arrived, I felt more confident with the gift of sight, but I was still shaken from my irrational fear. I felt very mortal. After a few days, I thought of how I survived my first night alone in the woods and I was hungry for something bigger. I realized the

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freedom that bikepacking offered—the ability to go anywhere with a bike and be self-sufficient. All I needed was a plan, the right equipment, food, a light, a water filter... and maybe a partner.

After a few days, I thought of how I survived my first night alone in the woods and I was hungry for something bigger.

A

month later, my teammate, Jeff and I embarked on the next journey. I told Jeff to plan something difficult. He has been my training partner for several years and I knew to expect something heinous. He diecded on the Sawatch Range. It would be bigger and more remote. This time, my fear revolved around storms and lightning. We drove to Salida, parked the car, loaded the bags on our bikes and the peaks quickly devoured us. I dutifully followed Jeff as we pedaled up the Colorado Trail. The weight of my bike and gear— close to 50 pound with fully loaded bags—bogged me down. I felt like I was pedaling through a swamp. It was hard to believe that my friends could do this for several days in bikepacking races and I gained even more respect for them. When we turned off the Colorado Trail to start

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our ascent toward Mt. Antero, I realized hiking your bike is an integral part of bikepacking in these mountains. On the map, it was a dirt road. In reality, the rocks were the size of human heads and the road was so steep that it even made walking a challenge. Sections that would normally be rideable were too difficult due to the weight and clumsiness of the loaded bike. The clouds had been building over the last few hours. Rain began to fall. We slipped into our Gor-tex jackets and pants, continued forward, and hoped the rain would abate. The road became so steep that I had a hard time walking and keeping pace. The distance between Jeff and I quickly grew until he was a speck on the horizon. I was panting from lack of oxygen and walking sideways because my calves were on fire. I kept tripping on my own feet. The mighty presence of the mountains was a reminder of my vulnerability and how inconsequential and infinitely small I was in the shadow of million-year-old giants. After five unrelenting hours of pushing our bikes, we arrived at the pass. The wind howled. We could almost touch the sky. The rain had stopped, but there were clouds building to the west. We began our descent and headed toward the Alpine Tunnel. The sun was setting. Then, out of nowhere, I heard some people yelling my name. “Sonya? Unbelievable.” Two familiar faces came into view. We had randomly bumped into some friends who were camping up here! After accepting an Odell Cutthroat Porter and an oatmeal cream pie, which was my dinner for the night, Jeff and I moved on to our camp spot. As we set up, we could see four elk on the ridgeline watching us. The rain began to fall again. Jeff did not have a tarp and we both tried to huddle underneath mine until the rain stopped. This time, I wasn’t afraid to look up at the vast expansion of stars in the crisp, clear night at 13,000 feet.

W

e awoke with the sunrise and continued on our adventure. Snow covered the trail, making it impassible, so we pushed our bikes up the nearly vertical side of the mountain to access the Continental Divide Trail. My legs screamed at the punishment. We were far away from civilization, alone, self-reliant and once again well above treeline. I wanted to dawdle, to roll around in the high alpine tundra flowers and drink it in, but the clouds were building once more. We picked up the pace. No longer afraid, I was simply awestruck by the dramatic views. Most people do not get to see what we did that day. And we rode our damn bikes to get there. Several hours later, we triumphantly cruised into Salida. I rewarded myself with a beer and a burger. It had only been two days, but the residue of the experience would last a lifetime. I attempted the Colorado Trail Race a month later and while finishing the event was not in the cards for me in 2011, I made it to a new place in life. A place where I was willing to try new things, take risks, take a chance at something where most fail, cope with bitter disappointment and, best of all, knowing that I’ll be back. —Sonya Looney is an endurance bike racer and regular blogger for ElevationOutdoors.com. She won the 10-day Yak Attack race in Nepal last month.


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music

Denver’s music scene keeps booming. Keep an eye on these up and coming local bands, too. churchill In less than three years together, this acoustic-driven indie-pop crew has gone from a local Denver favorite to national upstarts, gaining big praise at notable festivals including South by Southwest. Rooted in the musical partnership of singer-songwriter Tim Bruns and mandolin player Mike Morter, the now quintet has expanded on a background of country and bluegrass to play a range of melodic chamber rock with plenty of string flourishes and infectious hooks.

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Rooting Down in Denver

With a new album out and big buzz surrounding their live shows, Colorado band The Lumineers may be the next roots rock sensation to take the festival scene by storm.

By Jedd Ferris When the Lumineers stomp, clap and shout through the infectious chorus of “Ho Hey,” a standout track from their new self-titled debut album, you can’t help but want to join the trio’s primal folk-rock celebration. It’s surprising to learn then, that music this joyous was initially born out of sorrow. Founding members Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites formed the group back in 2002, after Fraites’ brother and Schultz’s best friend, Josh Fraites, died of a drug overdose. The duo, who grew up in a New Jersey suburb of Manhattan, grieved together by writing songs and eventually started gigging in the city. Although the songs were steadily coming together, the realties of making it in New York as starving artists became overwhelming. Disenchanted by a cutthroat music scene and high cost of living, Schultz and Fraites packed their bags and randomly moved to Denver. “Life happens while you’re making plans,” says Schultz. “The ego of New York is so big—it wrongfully teaches you that everybody who’s anybody goes there to play music. That proved to be a myth when we got to Denver. The city welcomed us, and we found people that were interested in music in a real way.” Upon arriving in Denver, the group started mixing it up with fellow songwriters during open mic nights over dollar PBRs at the basement Meadowlark Bar. Through a Craigslist ad, the group found cello player Neyla Pekarek, whose orchestral background enhanced the grandly sublime melodies of Schultz’s unabashedly heartfelt tunes. Soon after, the band’s broad acoustic sound quickly started gaining crowds. “I try to inject my songs with heart and

soul,” says Schultz, who plays guitar and piano while Fraites handles drums. “I’ve always been interested in saying something, but it never mattered without decent melody. When you marry those two things, people start to pay attention. Setting it up right makes it palpable.” Touting songs overflowing with similar ragged energy and heart-on-the sleeve honesty that has propelled the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, the band is now poised to become the next big thing in the ongoing youth-charged roots revival movement. For the past two years, the group has been grinding out coast-to-coast tours in a soccer mom van, building audiences in small venues. More people should definitely take notice this summer when the band takes the stage at huge festivals like the All Good Music Festival and Wakarusa. “We feel at home at a lot of different venues,” says Schultz. “Our arrangements with acoustic instruments lend themselves to a very intimate setting, but when we’re amplified we sound much bigger. We also grew up with electric guitars and the dissonant chords of alt-rock and grunge, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those elements come into future songs. There’s always room to evolve and grow and change.” Just last month the Lumineers released their new album on Dualtone Records. The effort is the result of a month spent recording at the secluded Bear Creek Studio near Seattle, which has yielded work by the Fleet Foxes and Ra Ra Riot. From the rolling finger-picked first notes of opening “Flowers in Her Hair” to the pulsing harmonies of “Stubborn Love,” the album showcases the band’s gritty front-porch pop that constantly begs for a sing-along—something the band doesn’t mind one bit. “The ability to go out there and connect with people and make them forget about everything but what’s going on in that room is what we work for,” Schultz says. “We want people to feel welcome and comfortable if they want to clap and sing along. I don’t think you’ll find anyone being shushed at a Lumineers show. • The Lumineers play at Mishawaka Indoors in Bellvue on Friday, April 6, and The Bluebird Theatre in Denver on Friday, May 11

Oakhurst built their following through rowdy nights at the Appaloosa Grill in downtown Denver. Now the expansive string band is poised for national success. Their new album, Barrel, was made in Nashville with help from producer Joe Pisapia (Guster, K. D. Lang) and finds the band branching into song-based Americana with hues of vintage country and blues. The group will celebrate the new album with a show at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom on April 21.

the congress The Congress specializes in old-school rock that’s immediately reminiscent of hey-day Little Feat with soulful vocals, fluid guitar work and the drive of gritty R&B grooves. With intense axe duels between guitarists Jonathan Meadows and Scott Lane, the group eschews current trends in genremashing in favor of honest journeys through distorted vintage blues and epic, fist-pumping bar anthems. —J.F.

OakHurst

APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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FRONT RANGE LIFE

elwayville

I

drive a stick shift

I like to think the Grateful Dead’s Sugar Magnolia was written about a Colorado Girl. Especially the line, “Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive.” It always makes me think of some capable lady in braids and Carhartts stepping on the clutch and the gas at the same time as she goes shifting into a higher gear up and over some muddy, bumpy hill. It’s been my personal experience that women who like to drive stick are quite adept at building roaring campfires, carrying their own skis, initiating the first kiss and when occasion demands, rolling their own smokes, too.

ski

And speaking of skis, nothing enhances a lady’s sex appeal like her ski-a-bility, or more appropriately, her enthusiasm for the sport. There’s something so attractively alive about waking up beside a woman who can’t wait to get out on the coldest days of the year, go fast and hunt out powder bell-to-bell from first to last chair. Not to mention how beautiful raccoon tans are, or the fact that no one on this planet ever seems more physically, mentally and emotionally content than someone who just spent a day tracking fresh snow.

Sugar Magnolias

Kevin howdeshell / kevincredible.com

t seems like an annual rite of spring for me to get all in bloom about how much I love Rocky Mountain Women. It must have something to do with the massive influx of Vitamin D we’re all getting, or all of those skiers suddenly riding around in bike shorts, or the thought of suntanned smiles in sun dresses swaying to mountain music beneath the stars. Maybe it’s just that the temperature’s rising, but to steal a little Beach Boys mojo, I really do wish they all could be Colorado girls. Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly attracted to city girls in suits, country girls in jeans and poetry reading prairie girls with notebooks full of pressed wildflowers. I’m a sucker for a Southern twang, as well as for the big Boston collegiate basketball player I used to date who played smothering “defense” and liked to say how she thought that the mountains were “wicked cool.” And every time I see some healthy, happy female face from Minneapolis, Munich or Madagascar, my mind can invent a million different life scenarios of me selling life insurance, making Bratwurst, or fishing with a handheld net, drinking beer with my buddies in any bar on the planet, then rushing home to see my own special wherever girl. But there’s always been something that much special-er about the women here in Colorado. And I think it has to do with how unencumbered and clear-headed life can be here in the mountain air. Something about the natural self-confidence of a woman who before lunch can and will hike a 14’er, change a flat and drink a pitcher of Fat Tire beer moves me in a way that no beachside bikini or perfumed penthouse ever will. And “natural” is the key word here, because I think what I love most about Rocky Mountain women is that they seem so happy being exactly who they are. Here’s the beginning of my list of other things that I think the women of Colorado know how to do better than just about anybody else in the world. Please do visit the Elevation Outdoors website and add your own as well:

A Colorado boy sings the praises of Rocky Mountain women. by PETER KRAY

eat meat

In the interest of courting a little comidas controversy, coming to the West and proclaiming yourself a vegetarian has always seemed just a little precious. That’s because “dead,” was the term Coloradoans used to describe vegetarians 100 years ago. Unless you were sitting on the Rockies’ largest collection of Anasazi Beans each winter around the turn of the last century, then you were living on the meat of elk, deer, buffalo and horse. And for that reason alone, I believe it is awesomely indigenous for a woman to have her own private travel map of great steak and incredible green chile burger joints from here to Canada.

drink a tequila shot

Whiskey is fine. But tequila is the true spirit of the West. Only wine features more varietals, and here in the age of the agave renaissance, any selfrespecting tavern in LoDo, BolDo, or Breck features enough fine reposados and anejos that most bartenders are really asking if you wouldn’t rather have an apple martini or strawberry daiquiri—or are really a tourist—when they say, “Would you like it dressed?” (i.e., with lime and salt). Of course, I’m also really just proud of how my own green-eyed, Colorado sunset in cowgirl boots orders it, “Neat,” and how then all the kitchen boys come out to sneak a look.

have dogs

The saying that “men are dogs,” might be giving men too much credit. That’s because I think dogs

are about the best thing that ever happened. As for us guys? Maybe not so much. And any woman who has dogs—especially male dogs—has at least some experience with the occasional self-licking, leg humping and trash digging events. With all of the rivers and trails and mountains here, though, Colorado women seem to have a better sense of when to let a mutt run, and when to break out the leash. In short, they’re well prepared to deal with us.

talk broncos

My favorite thing about female sports fans is that they don’t bandwagon. If they back a team it’s because they went to school there, or grew up there. And you’re damn right they played sports themselves. If they’re wearing the hat or the jersey it’s because it’s like family. They know these players like they know their neighborhood. This is serious stuff. And while the great Timmy Tebow may have almost singlehandedly smashed that entire assertion, charismatically converting an entire new world order of Mile High faithful, it doesn’t mean that the locals aren’t happy, too. Which is another thing about Colorado girls: they’ll give you lots of opportunities to fall in love. Peter Kray is an East High School graduate who married a Cherry Creek sugar magnoila. He keeps a framed copy of John Elway’s Broncos rookie card next to his wedding photo. He is also co-founder of the Gear Institute (gearinstitute.com), focusing on professionalizing gear testing for gear consumers and outdoor industry professionals. APRIL 2012 • ElevationOutdoors.com

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What beer do we drink when we’re done making beer? The one you’re about to enjoy in Shift. Canning this Nelson Sauvin hopped pale lager means everyone gets to reward their work. Or play. Or, if you’re like us, combine the two and surround yourself with drinking buddies. Clock out and crack open a Shift beer. You’ve earned it.

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shift pale lager is brewed by new belgium brewing fort collins co Elevation Outdoors • PRINTED ON 100% RECYCLED PAPER

Elevation Outdoors Magazine April 2012  

April 2012 issue.

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