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Thread: Help a tourist!

  1. #1
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    Help a tourist!

    Hello from SC -

    For this year's mountain bike vacation we would like to ride in Colorado. My husband has tentatively selected Winter Park. We're up for other possibilities, however. Here are some of our wants:

    Would like to fly into Denver (need to burn some US Air ff miles) and not drive more than 2 hours.

    We like singletrack (duh) and don't mind climbing.

    We will probably want to rent some nice hardtails since we are too anal retentive the let the airline handle our bikes, and too lazy to box them up and mail.

    We typically ride in Pisgah, NC at between 3000 and 5000 feet. While climbing up to 10,000 in Park City, my husband had some interesting panic/can'tbreath/gonnadie sensations, so were a bit worried about riding at altitudes any higher than that. We will only be there 3 days, so not much time to acclimate.

    I am a shameless foodie and want to vacation somewhere with good restaurants. Any good mountain biking near towns with lots of snooty frou-frou food and celebrity chefs?

    Suggestions, advice, geography lessons, bike shops recs, will all be appreciated. Oh, and tell me what time of year is best. We would like to go in late May or June. Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    Hello from SC -

    For this year's mountain bike vacation we would like to ride in Colorado. My husband has tentatively selected Winter Park. We're up for other possibilities, however. Here are some of our wants:

    Would like to fly into Denver (need to burn some US Air ff miles) and not drive more than 2 hours.

    We like singletrack (duh) and don't mind climbing.

    We will probably want to rent some nice hardtails since we are too anal retentive the let the airline handle our bikes, and too lazy to box them up and mail.

    We typically ride in Pisgah, NC at between 3000 and 5000 feet. While climbing up to 10,000 in Park City, my husband had some interesting panic/can'tbreath/gonnadie sensations, so were a bit worried about riding at altitudes any higher than that. We will only be there 3 days, so not much time to acclimate.

    I am a shameless foodie and want to vacation somewhere with good restaurants. Any good mountain biking near towns with lots of snooty frou-frou food and celebrity chefs?

    Suggestions, advice, geography lessons, bike shops recs, will all be appreciated. Oh, and tell me what time of year is best. We would like to go in late May or June. Thanks!


    aspen.

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    wow...brevity.

    Isn't Aspen really high? altitude I mean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    wow...brevity.

    Isn't Aspen really high? altitude I mean.
    It's about the same as the fraser valley(winter park) around 8000 ft. It doesn't matter where you go. If your in the mountains your gonna climb...it's gonna hurt...get used to it and just take your time. As for food. Winter park isn't what I would call "gourmet" and I'm not that much of a food critic. I'm sure there are some fine places to eat but i haven't found a place that is like "wow!" If your looking for the "prestigious mountain culture" I would probably visit aspen(which has an airport) or vail(which is serviced via eagle county airport). Winter park is a great place to go but it feels more "local-ish" than the other resort towns. There is also some great riding in winter park but I feel the self acclaimed "Mountain bike capital of the world" thing is a bit far fetched. The riding is just as good in summit/eagle county and there's a hell of a lot more to do after your done riding.

  5. #5
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    yeah...Aspen in the fall...Or Steamboat Springs. They're not too high. Aspen has the fru fru stuff you want and good riding. Prices are okay in the summer, but it's three to four hours from Denver. Steamboat is far too.

    Salida, Colorado Springs, or c'mon up to Ft Collins. Plenty of riding up here, with a much less upscale attitude.

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    This might not be what you are looking for, but you could stay in Denver itself and find 20-30 good trails within a 2 hour window (Colorado Springs, Buffalo Creek/Colorado Trail, Boulder and up to Ft. Collins). Plenty of good restaurants here...and elevation is generally in the 5-7000ft range for most of the trails.

    If you are looking for something more off the beaten path, I can heartily recommend Breckenridge for some great trail systems (an especially good section of the Colorado Trail is to the east of town). You could easily knock out 3 days there although altitude is going to be an issue.

    I'm not an expert on the high country, but May-ish you might still have to contend with a fair amount of high country snow if you do end up riding in ski areas...

    If you are up for a bit more of a drive, you could push through to Fruita (4 hours from Denver) and spend a solid 3 days riding out there. It has the advantage of weather, and is much lower than other parts of Colorado.

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    Thanks! what time of year would you say go to Aspen?

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    thanks, Chad and Yeti -

    What's the riding like in Ft. Collins and Boulder? I like the staying in Denver idea..at least maybe a couple of nights.

    I guess we'll pass on Breckenridge if it's high. He's a pretty good husband I don't want to kill him off. He doesn't know the meaning of "take your time".

  9. #9
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    Why not Fruita?

    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    Hello from SC -

    For this year's mountain bike vacation we would like to ride in Colorado. My husband has tentatively selected Winter Park. We're up for other possibilities, however. Here are some of our wants:

    Would like to fly into Denver (need to burn some US Air ff miles) and not drive more than 2 hours.

    We like singletrack (duh) and don't mind climbing.

    We will probably want to rent some nice hardtails since we are too anal retentive the let the airline handle our bikes, and too lazy to box them up and mail.

    We typically ride in Pisgah, NC at between 3000 and 5000 feet. While climbing up to 10,000 in Park City, my husband had some interesting panic/can'tbreath/gonnadie sensations, so were a bit worried about riding at altitudes any higher than that. We will only be there 3 days, so not much time to acclimate.

    I am a shameless foodie and want to vacation somewhere with good restaurants. Any good mountain biking near towns with lots of snooty frou-frou food and celebrity chefs?

    Suggestions, advice, geography lessons, bike shops recs, will all be appreciated. Oh, and tell me what time of year is best. We would like to go in late May or June. Thanks!
    It isn't much further than Aspen, I'm pretty sure it's less than 5k in elevation and there is a lot of variety. Since the elevation seems like it's an issue, the extra drive time would be well worth it plus Fruita is beautiful. It would be better to ride there in May than June heat wise but June isn't too uncomfortable usually. Over the Edge Sports rents bikes and there are a few decent restaurants in Grand Junction (decent by CO standards at least--based on your post, I assume your expecations are pretty high).

    Since someone else mentioned Colorado Springs (my home) I can give you a little more insight on it too. We're about 1.5 hours from DIA and there is a fair bit of riding here. Much of it is either technically challenging or on loose gravel (or both technically challenging AND on loose gravel) ranging from 6.2k to 14k in elevation but there are a few trails for every skill level. In terms of food, there are a few wannabe frou-frou places that are decent IMHO, although I am a cook-it-myself-foodie and not a great critic. Renting bikes would be the most challenging thing here. If you were comfortable on a low end bike you would be fine but I'm not sure if anyone rents anything above Alivio grouped bikes. I am of the opinion that it is always better to bring a bike than rent crap.

    Good luck with your planning!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kristian
    I am of the opinion that it is always better to bring a bike than rent crap.
    I agree with that FOR SURE...also see the thread in General I believe about flying with your bike....flown with my bike 5 times now.

    If you HAVE to stay within two hours of Denver, AND elevation is an issue....Front Range ride ARE your best bet. There's good stuff from Fort Collins all the way south the Colorado Springs.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    Hello from SC -

    For this year's mountain bike vacation we would like to ride in Colorado. My husband has tentatively selected Winter Park. We're up for other possibilities, however. Here are some of our wants:
    Uh, how about attending the MTBR Gathering that is scheduled to take place here in August. For your husbands altitude sensitivity, have him talk to his physician and start taking Diamox a few days before you come out. I used to send poor dumb bastards from sea level to 12K altitude to work with no acclimation and some Diamox. Good times. Tell hubby to stay away from the booze until he acclimates. One other thing, climbing at altitude makes everyone feel like they're going to die. On more, one more thing: if you come to the gathering and hubby offs himself with a bad case of the HACE, you'll have plenty of altitude acclimated suitors around to help dry any tears....

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    I guess another question is whether you are here to ride good trails or see "scenic" Colorado stuff. I'll grant you that some of the front range trails are outstanding riding...but in many cases your "view" is the urban sprawl of Denver. I haven't ridden in CO Springs or anywhere north of Boulder...so those trails could be more secluded/scenic. Also, are you looking for XC stuff, or uber-technical, or the DH experience? I'm an XC-ish rider, so most of my suggestions and all my photos are based on that.

    One good trail to consider is the first segment of the Colorado Trail (begins in SW part of Denver). It starts close to town but escapes it rather quickly, it can be an epic ride, you can definitely fill an entire day on that trail system and adjacent stuff, plus there is some nice scenery once you get down the trail a spell. It isn't too bad on elevation either (about 7000ft max). Plus it is part of Colorado Trail lore...and thus sort of touristy to say you did it.

    The Buffalo Creek trail system is popular here in Denver, and is generally a lot of fun rolling singletrack in nice pine forests, along with some areas that were burnt in recent fires. Not only would you get more good singletrack, but it also has a Colorado "flair" that would make for some nice vacationing/pictures.

    On your 3rd day you might be willing to risk going to higer elevations to find some riding up at the resorts or whatever. Just remember that drinking lots of water can help minimize the effects of altitude. Your husband might just have had a bad day or didn't drink enough water when he got those sensations...

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    Quote Originally Posted by DWF
    you'll have plenty of altitude acclimated suitors around to help dry any tears....
    Thks for thinking of me Don...a gentleman and a scholar you are, kind sir.
    The more out of shape you are, the steeper the hill looks.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    Suggestions, advice, geography lessons, bike shops recs, will all be appreciated.
    To fit ALL of your criteria (2-hour drive from Denver, singletrack, bike rentals, below 10k elevation, superb restaurants, and May/June time frame), a base in Denver or Boulder would work well. Winter Park (or any other mountain area) will not be realistic that time of year due to snow. Also, most mountain areas in Colorado start at around 8-9000 feet and climb from there, so you'll quickly approach your 10k limit.

    For a 3-day stay, you could do one day on the Colorado Trail starting at Waterton Canyon, one day up in Evergreen at Alderfir/3 Sisters, and one day on your choice of the best trails in Golden (White Ranch, for example). There are, of course, unlimited possibilities and you could narrow your choices a lot if you know the type of riding you want (technical difficulty, length, etc.).

    If you stay in Boulder, the Sports Garage is a great shop; also, don't miss Flagstaff House for a wonderful dining experience.

    bock

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    i agree with the denver/boulder idea, but would pick buffalo creek for a nice long day, waterton to colorado trail for another day (you can make it a long ride if you add some stuff) and then depending on snow and stuff maybe a high country day in breck or if not, hall ranch in lyons is cool, kind of short, but very scenic...
    BBZ

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    I'm with Kristian, Fruita all the way-lower elevation, higher temps in May, much more singletrack(then WP) and probably better restaraunts in Grand Junction. Hell, go to Moab for a day while your there.

    Now I'm jonesing for a desert trip

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    Thanks again to all- I appreciate getting so many responses. Thought I'd add a few more bits of info:

    We consider ourself pretty advanced riders, and technically proficient, but of course, everything is realtive. We aren't DHer's, not interested in ski lifts or any Red Bull Rampage stuff ;-) When we went to Park City last year we got kind-of a chuckle because so many of the MTBR folks who helped w/ trail info talked about how difficult and technical the riding would be, and how we would absolutely need to rent FS bikes, but we found the trails there to be extremely groomed and generally easier than Pisgah.

    ...except for the altitude thing. To be more specific, my husband wasn't just suffering from climbing, he had the sensation upon stopping at the top of Puke Hill on the Wasatch Crest of not being able to inhale any oxygen whatsoever. He said it was like having a plastic bag tight over his head for what seemed like a long time before he was able to get air in his lungs. Is that a typical altitude sickness symptom? He's in great shape and used to as much climbing (elevation change) at home as we had in PC, just not so high. Oh, and he doesn't drink hardly ever. I didn't really feel anything... but then, I'm willing to back off when the suffering starts.

    Back on the food topic, I could live with good hippie/organic/casual/ethnic food, as long as it really is good, honest food. I just don't want to wind up in a town like the one I live in, where there's nothing but chains.

    I'm sure you guys are right about bringing our bikes. One thing I learned in Park City, though, is that mountain biking is fun no matter what you ride. An expensive Ti bike with every part on it speced out to my personal desires and money (almost) no object at home compared to an $800 rental bike ...I did a little complaining, of course, but really, it's not about the bike, huh?

    Yeti, I'm gonna go look for your pictures now...yes I do want scenic added to my list of desires as well! Pisgah is such a great place to ride it makes me picky. I'll be glad to help all of you over on the NC board if you every decide to road trip out here.

    Thanks again.

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    I vote you head down Colorado Springs way (1.5 hours from DIA). Find a B&B in funky Manitou or up in Woodland park. The local trails are less crowded than the Jeffco (Denver). Easy access to Buffalo Creek and other fine local singletrack.

    Frou-frou food. How about Fondu at the Mona Lisa in Manitou.

  19. #19
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    I've been making some noise to my friends that come in from out of town to do the Denver thing. Seems we always head to the same places. Some of these guys havn't ridden some of the great stuff all along the front range. Heck, I havn't even made it to the Springs yet, and that's just lame lame lame.

    Too many choices, I tell ya.
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

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    Does your husband have athsma?

    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick

    ...except for the altitude thing. To be more specific, my husband wasn't just suffering from climbing, he had the sensation upon stopping at the top of Puke Hill on the Wasatch Crest of not being able to inhale any oxygen whatsoever. He said it was like having a plastic bag tight over his head for what seemed like a long time before he was able to get air in his lungs. Is that a typical altitude sickness symptom? He's in great shape and used to as much climbing (elevation change) at home as we had in PC, just not so high. Oh, and he doesn't drink hardly ever. I didn't really feel anything... but then, I'm willing to back off when the suffering starts.
    Elevation sickness usually is more nauseua-based than not being able to bring air into your lungs. I know very little about athsma, but it might be worth having him ask his doctor before coming out. A guy I used to work with's father in law died from an athsma attack a few years ago in Summit County CO. He had never previously had asthsma symptoms/attacks and he vacationed out here twice a year for 20+ years so the elevation wasn't a new experience. For whatever reason, on his last trip out here he wasn't able to breathe.

    Back to restaurants--the front range is pretty full of chains, but there are more than enough good local restaurants in CS/Denver/Boulder/Ft C. to keep you happy. Your best bet is to head downtown in any of those cities. The chains are really only beginning to invade the mountain towns so there are still a lot of local places in the high country to get interesting food. However, outside of Breck, Vail and Aspen, there isn't a whole lot that would fall in the frou-frou catagory.

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    Geez, scary! So you're friend's FIL had never been diagnosed w/ asthma, it was just postmortum diagnosis? Husband doesn't have asthma, at least not as far as he knows.

    Thanks for the warning...I'm gonna stop pestering him to go higher now.

  22. #22
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    Yup

    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    Geez, scary! So you're friend's FIL had never been diagnosed w/ asthma, it was just postmortum diagnosis? Husband doesn't have asthma, at least not as far as he knows.

    Thanks for the warning...I'm gonna stop pestering him to go higher now.
    Yup. He was in his 60s in decent shape and was diagnosed postmortum. He had never shown symptoms of asthma before that. The weirdest thing was that he wasn't doing anything aerobic when it happened. He spent a day or two in Colorado Springs and then went up to his condo in Summit and it happened the next day at the condo. I think what happened to him is a very rare occurance though, otherwise we would hear a lot more about it on the news. I only mentioned it in my post because of the way you described your husband's attack.

    K (is not a doctor but likes to play one on the Internet)

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    Boulder/Ft. Collins == Primo Riding!

    LSChick:

    You are smart in asking about the Boulder/Ft. Collins area. There is *so* much to ride around here.

    You could stay in/near Boulder. My fave little front range town is Lyons, and there's a cool bike shop there: Redstone Bikes.

    They are normally only open on the Weekends, but you can make arrangments to meet him any time, and I know he's been talked into guiding out-of-towners before (if you ask really nice and buy a thing or two? :-)). I've even been known to show a stranger a trail or two in Boulder County. The Boulder Offroad Alliance Web site lists a bunch of trails around here, as does the mtbr site.

    And, BTW, the Front Range trails (i.e near Denver/Ft Collins/Colo Spgs) are lower in elevation that the mountain trails (but many times just as technical with just as much climbing!).

    If you PM me, I could send you the names of a couple of trail books and supply the email addr/phone number for a couple of folks that might help, if you want help.

    In any case, enjoy your visit here. You'll fall in love with the riding any place you go in Colorado.

    P.S. There are several rental places in Boulder. I suggest you decide where you're going first, and then find a place to rent bikes near where you stay/ride.
    Last edited by LeeMan; 02-02-2005 at 05:28 PM. Reason: update URL
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    mistype on the BOA link.... dot org, not dot com
    http://www.boa-mtb.org/
    HTH

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    riding on the front range

    Despite the "alaska" in my name, I'm currently living in Boulder. I've ridden at a number of places around the state, and agree with lots of the good comments you've received so far. The one cautionary note that I want to add is that there are so many of us mtb-ers along the front range that riding the trails around here can become more of an exercise in getting out of people's way than in actually riding. This is particuarly true for popular trails around Boulder in the evenings and on weekends (e.g. Hall Ranch, Walker Ranch, Betasso). If you really want to ride near Boulder, I'd schedule your trip so you hit these on weekdays during working hours. Some others down near Golden can get pretty crowded, too (White Ranch, Red Rocks/Matthew Winters). The Colorado Trail starting in Waterton Canyon and Buffalo Creek are better in terms of crowds.

    That said, my favorite places to ride in the state so far are Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte, and Fruita. They're beyond your 2-hour limit, but you'll have to decide whether the crowds are going to put more of a damper on your vacation than the extra driving time. From Boulder, Steamboat is about 3.5 hours, Crested Butte about 4, and Fruita about 4.5. I'm not sure exactly when Steamboat and Crested Butte trails are clear of snow (we've gone in July and August), though, and Crested Butte might be a litte higher up than you'd like.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions, or want specific ideas for trails in these places.

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