Kurt and I spent the weekend at Winter Park Resort watching the downhill mountain biking championships. One word. Awesome.
We drove over on Saturday night, got to spend a lovely evening with some friends, (bliss!) slept in (double bliss!), had breakfast on the deck and then, after a little Thai Massage all around, headed over to Winter Park.
I've never been there, and I was excited to go for a few reasons. First, my very first skiing mentor, Mike Hickey and his wife, Bonnie, are from Winter Park, so I was excited to get a first hand look at their old stomping ground. Also, Bob Barnes (the other one) is the director there, and he's just about as fun as they make em, so I was hoping to get to say hi.
Barney wasn't around on Sunday, so Kurt and I headed up the hill to watch the madness. Winter Park is amazing, they did a great job making it homey and fun. I couldn't BELIEVE how crowded it was, they definitely have their summer fun dialed.
There was mini golf and mini zip lines for the little kids, an awesome alpine slide, lots of tables, chairs and umbrellas and food stands all around so you could get a beverage easily and still watch your kids play.
People were pedaling around in their full armor on their gnarly full suspension bikes, and it was EVERYONE, not just the competitors. I saw kids as young as 7 all decked out with huge grins on their faces, I saw moms, I saw whole families. I had NO idea the sport of Down Hill Mountain Biking was so accessible!
My experience on a mountain bike thus far had been sketchy, scary and painful. (but fun). I had kind of come to the conclusion a year or so ago that I'd better buy a road bike and learn to love to suffer, because I was getting too old to fall off my bike. And when I did fall off my bike, it was scary and ridiculously painful. The consequences just seemed too high. I wished I had the talent to ride, but it just seemed like I should have learned when I was 18, not 35.
Enter purpose-built trails, bikes with huge squishy full suspension, full body armor, and a little bit of technique and instruction. Almost ANYONE can do it. Kurt had a family the other day in his lesson that had like 10 people in it. The youngest was 9. The oldest was 74!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. (because I want to tell you about what it feeeellls like to ride like this... but that's the next day. hold on to your britches. here we go.)
SO we hike up the trail and wander off under this huge bridge to watch the best guys in the nation get after it.
While we were there, we ran into Chris Conrad (the guy with the chainsaw) and the Tater Patch crew. These guys had hiked up and brought shovels and huge nails to bang on them, cow bells, the chain saw, and they were creating a huge and AWESOME ruckus as the riders came ripping through the wood and launched off this huge rock before making a hard turn to the right.
The speeds these guys ride at and the amount of air they got were truly inspiring, and Kurt and I left feeling really REALLY psyched to ride the next day!
Stay tuned for more DH Mountain biking insanity... (and thanks for your patience, its high season here in Aspen, so we are all working our tails off. I finally folded my laundry and I can find my bed again... ahhh!!)