BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Courtney Kenady
With one of the longest ski seasons in North America, you might think (quite logically) that the Breckenridge biking season is one of the shortest. Not so.
Many Breck locals and visitors bike year-round. Yes, through rain, sleet, graupel, snow.
Why? Well, to start with Breck boasts some of the best mountain biking terrain in the country. And once the plows come through and the sun comes out, there are plenty of road biking routes.
The cycling culture in Breckenridge is strong. And, Winter Biking promotes even more positive community interaction (think contagious grins). Plus it’s environmental friendly, eases traffic and parking congestion and usually gets you plenty of nods and winks of encouragement. From commuters to die-hard recreational riders, riding happens even in the snow, but don’t be fooled …. we still love powder days as much as winter biking.
“You won’t find even an avid rider on a bike. If it’s a powder day, they will be skiing,” says Jeff Cospolich, a Breck local who is the vice president of Great Western Lodging in town, in addition to an avid (bike) rider and skier.
Winter Road Warriors
With 300 plus days of sunshine, road riding in Breckenridge can extend into late fall/early winter. What motivates a rider to brave the challenging elements of early winter? Cospolich answers, “… To stay fit for cyclocross races October through December. Otherwise, in late winter I’ll get out again to get the base miles I need to be kind of fit for the Firecracker 50 (a Breck mountain bike race in July). It’s also a good time to think about stuff … family, work, life. And I like the heavy legs feeling when I get home.”
Road riding is a good winter recipe, but you need all the ingredients. The expression, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing,” comes to mind. Suit up with layers. Start with breathable long-sleeve layers that are waterproof/windstopper and a good thermal glove, maybe a lobster mitt.
“Always having that last resort final piece of clothing – a vest or a light packable jacket – in a jersey pocket is nice when you’re on a longer ride far from home. I like Pearl Izumi Pro stuff a lot,” Cospolich says.
Another tip: Be selective and alert. Ride winter routes that get a lot of sun and don’t have a lot of traffic such as the Tiger Road. and Summit Estates route in Breckenridge. Be alert to drivers and pretend they don’t see you. Stay smooth on gravel, ice and snow and be sure to ride on a wider, knobbier tire on your road or cross bike.
Fat Fat Tires: Winter mountain biking
Mid-winter hit the trails with a Fat Bike.
“Riding when the snow is falling is one of the best, most peaceful and perfect times to be on the bike,” says Lou Laurina, a Breck local who’s a fire fighter at Lake Dillion Fire District, as well as a mountain bike rider. “It’s all about trail compaction so snowshoers and cross country skiers are your best friends out there.” Riding on high-traffic, packed trails is ideal. Fat Biking is a slower, warmer ride, yet challenging. One of Laurina’s favorite trails in Breckenridge is, “up French Gulch on the B&B trail and Turks.”
Gearing up from head to toe: Foot Gear
Having the correct foot gear is key when riding for an hour or more. Snow boots work well for short rides around the neighborhood, but for comfort on a long ride Laurina suggests 45nrth boots for comfort and warmth. Laurina’s offers the following tips for a better Fat Bike experience:
- Take time to try different tire pressures;
- Take time to dial in your bike. It’ll handle a lot differently with conditions changing everyday; and
- Keep your cadence up and keep your pedal stroke as smooth as possible because it’s all about keeping traction.
Sound like fun? Winter Biking is a great alternative snow sport and Breckenridge is the perfect place to explore. Bring your bike or rent a Fat Bike at Breck Bike Guides , Avalanche Sports or at the north/City Market location of Alpine Sports. Contact them in advance for availability.
Courtney Kenady writes at Bikenridge.com about Everything Biking in Breckenridge and all of the unique characters and events that play out in this cool mountain town. For useful tools and the inside dirt, sign up for the Free monthly Useletter.