Colorado is known as one of the top ten destinations for mountain biking in the country. Each year the cycling and mountain biking community continues to grow. Mountain biking is a sport requiring riding bicycles off-road. Normally over rough terrain and rocks. Cycling is also a sport of riding bicycles. Normally in forms of road racing, track racing, and cyclocross. There are over 1,300 biking trails located all over the state. Located from the western slopes all the way to the front range. Crested Butte and Gunnison are some commonly talked about spots. But, Estes Park is in the running as well. A beautiful place to hit the trail, with 360 views of the Rocky Mountains.
One of these trails being Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. A ride that ranges from 7,800 to 12,185 feet, eleven miles above the tree line. Not for the faint of heart, as the road is narrow, with drop-offs and limited guardrails. It is normally open from June 1st to November 30th, depending on snowfall. When the road opens to vehicles in the summer, you are required to ride in the same direction as traffic. Which is always uphill and westbound. You do need to obtain a permit for group riding of 25 people or more. Federal Law in Rocky Mountain National Park states that all cyclists need to ride in single file. If riding at sunset, you also need to keep your white light or reflector on. All rules aside, this route is a bucket list item. The elevation gain may be a challenge for some, but the goal of reaching the top is well worth it.
Looking to improve your mountain biking skills? Stanley Park Bike Park, located near Lake Estes in Estes Park is your spot. A fun area designed for cyclists and mountain bikers. An unpaved 1.25-mile trail for biking, running and dog walking is one option. A half-mile skills loop is accessible for mountain bikers to practice on dirt terrain. Perfect for working on rough terrain and climbing over rocks. The challenges range from beginner skill level to expert. Making this a great spot for all skill levels to get some practice in.
Safety is important for all cyclists and mountain bikers. It is recommended to start early in the summer months. Due to the popularity of Estes Park, the roads tend to fill up by 10 AM. Causing the chances of accidents to increase. Afternoon thunderstorms are also unpredictable in the warmer season. When above the treeline, storms can become extremely dangerous. Always check the forecast before riding. Watch out for narrow and steep roads in the area. Colorado is known for the Rocky Mountains of course, so researching a route prior to departure is important. See and be seen is the motto for safety while riding. Bright colors will help the driver’s visibility. Other articles of gear you should wear are a helmet, waterproof jacket and sunglasses. The more remote a trail is, the more beautiful it can be. With that beauty also comes very minimal or non-existent cell phone service. Always let someone know where you are going before heading into the mountains. Research and route planning will be your best bet to enjoy a safe journey.
Classes are available at REI If you are looking to improve your skills. Hosting “Colorado Mountain Biking Skills Session – Climbing & Descending”. The day-long class is offered on various dates throughout the summer. Rated easy for experienced riders with at least one season or twenty hours of off-road riding experience. Participants are aged fourteen and up. REI provides a bike helmet, bike tools, the group first aid kit, and a mountain bike. The class brings you through steep climbs, rock gardens, and rugged descents. A professional guide will teach you various skills and break down different drills. It does not focus on drops or jumps but helps improve dismounts, climbing, body positioning and more.
New riders can also take advantage of their “Introduction to Mountain Biking Class”. You will learn the basics of body and pedal position, braking, climbing, descending and more. They will bring you to a beginner-friendly trail to practice your riding. Dates and times are available throughout the summer. The only requirement for this class is to know and be comfortable riding on a flat or even terrain. You can learn more about these classes on their website at https://www.rei.com/events.
The Estes Park Cycling Coalition runs a unique membership program in the area. They assist in setting up volunteer events to help cultivate the bicycle riding culture. They also organize group rides to connect cyclists. The coalition is run by a board of Directors who provide alternative and safe opportunities for riders. Some of the funds go to Estes Park’s bike-related benefits. Such as Bike to Work Day & bike parade activities.
Annual membership is $30 a year for individuals, and $40 for a family membership, up to four people. The membership dues go to a good cause, helping with certain projects, including the Stanley Park Bike Path. Some additional benefits to the annual membership include discounts on Estes Park Mountain Shop & Estes Park Yoga, to name a few. View all of the benefits and membership information at https://www.bikeestes.org/. A fantastic opportunity to support your community while continuing to do what you love.
There is a reason why 8.62 million people in the United States chose riding as their hobby. Already growing 10% in popularity from 2017 to 2021. Luckily, Cycling & Mountain Biking is an exhilarating and fun hobby to enjoy in Colorado. With three hundred days of sunshine a year, enjoying the great outdoors is a must. Sign up for an educational class if you want to get into the sport. If you are already a seasoned biker, come to Estes Park and test out your skills. Either way, grab your bike and ride off into the Rocky Mountain sunset.