Roaring Fork Valley Mountain Biking Picks
With a full menu of offerings, from old-school cross-country to lift-served table-top jumps, Aspen-area trails will tingle your singletrack taste buds. No matter your riding level, you’ll find just the right trail, and enjoy mature aspen groves, colorful wildflowers, and picturesque Elk Mountain views. Here’s just a sample.
Freeride Fun: Snowmass Bike Park
The three “V” trails—Viking, Vapor, and Valhalla—put Snowmass Bike Park on the map among international enduro racers. In 2017, the lift-served park extended its fourth “V” (Verde) by 1 mile, adding to the existing 3,000 vertical feet of purpose-built trails. A 3.5-mile green run, Verde helps beginners get a feel for park riding and practice fundamental skills. The trail flows through pine and aspen before popping out onto the grassy Base Village zone. Combined with Vapor or the new Trail 16 at top and Valhalla or Viking at bottom, Verde makes for a ripping-good run of the entire mountain for intermediate and expert riders.
New-School Flow: Glassier to Buckhorn
Trail development has taken hold on the area known as the Crown between Basalt and Carbondale. The newer, machine-built Buckhorn and Glassier trails are a good way to pack in some fast miles. This 16.5-mile lollipop loop combines the paved Rio Grande Trail (the stick) with meandering, flowy dirt trail (the candy). Extra credit? Pedal south from Buckhorn to connect with the Prince Creek trail system.
Classic Colorado: Smuggler–Four Corners–Sunnyside
Begin this roughly 23-mile ride with a sturdy climb up Smuggler Mountain Road, a four-wheel-drive track that gains 822 feet in 1.5 miles (an 11 percent grade) before reaching an observation deck overlooking Aspen. Take Tootsie Roll and Lollipop before dropping via Iowa Shaft into the historic Hunter Valley. Climb out on the new machine-built Hummingbird before a stout push onto Hobbit at the top. The remainder of the ride travels through tall, thick skunk cabbage and columbines; healthy aspen groves; shady conifers; a stretch of dizzying sidehill with views of surrounding peaks; and a spicy technical descent to the Rio Grande Trail for a smooth pedal back to Smuggler.
Says Amber Davenport, an Aspen-based physical therapist and Pilates instructor who owns Capitol Wellness, the repetitive movement of mountain biking creates muscular imbalances that ultimately can result in chronic stress/overuse injuries. “Having a strong core and strong scapular muscles, as well as adequate flexibility in the hip area is essential to balance out the body and help decrease risk of injury,” she notes.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Kneel down and bring one foot forward, knee bent at 90 degrees, foot flat on the floor. Extend opposite leg behind, knee bent, with top of foot on the floor. Shift forward to feel a stretch in the hip. Keep core engaged and pelvis level. Hold for 15 seconds; switch legs.
Pectoral (chest) stretch
Stand in front of a doorway, extend right arm out at shoulder height, then bend elbow 90 degrees. Place right forearm against the corner of the frame and lean into the open doorway. Hold 15 seconds; repeat on left side.
Your dream ride? The new SB100/women’s SB100 Beti ($5,999–$9,899), with 29-inch wheels and 100mm of travel, from Colorado-based Yeti Cycles. It climbs nimbly, then is stable yet still playful on the downhill. The frame geometry incorporates a slightly steeper seat angle and slacker head tube angle for better pedaling efficiency and traction. And a more compact Switch Infinity suspension mechanism allows you to fit a water bottle holder on the frame. Then sign up for the Yeti Tribe in Snowmass Village (July 27–29), a gathering of Yeti owners and employees with camping, catered meals, and group rides. yeticycles.com