Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Colorado Freeride Festival (Part 3 of 5)


With the change of time zones affecting us on the first night in Colorado we initially awoke at 4:30 in the morning but forced ourselves back to sleep. A couple hours later we were gearing up for our ride on the mountain. I had the honor of being the first person to test out Corsa Racewear clothing on a downhill course.

After coffee and showers we went directly to Trestle bike park. We had reserved two Demo bike packages online and it was time to sign in. Trestle uses a computer registration system where you simply look up your name on a screen and click the print button. Your information is printed out at the desk where you acknowledge the receipt, sign your waiver, receive your lift tickets and grab your gear.


Trestle is by far the most impressive downhill shop I have ever seen. Their collection of gear and bikes is unparalleled in my experience. The armor, helmets, gloves and pads were made by Fox or Kali. There was a large circular seating area where you could get fit for pads and an entire counter where they handed out gloves and helmets.

Most impressive of all was their collection of bikes. They had Santa Cruz, Cove, Giant, GT, Scott, Specialized, Trek and more. They had XC, Park bikes, Enduros and full out DH rides. Terri and myself opted for the best in our category. She got her hands on a Trek Session 8 size small and I got a Specialized Demo 8 in large.


At 9:30 am the Zephry Express lift was opened to the public and we enjoyed the 7 minute ride to the top of the mountain which peaked at 10,700 feet. It had glorious views of the village and resorts below as well as an amazing skyline. At the top is the Lodge at Sunspot, a mountain top restaurant. Not far from it was the Enduro race starting location.

Now to pick a trail. That's not as easy as you might think. Trestle has more bike specific trails than any mountain bike park in America and they are longer as well. However, due to the races taking place half of the trails were unavailable that morning. We would have to make due.


Having not been on DH bikes in three years, we opted to start on an easy trail. Green World is the mother of all beginner trails. It starts atop the peak and wraps around the back of the mountain with twists and turns through the hillsides for five and a half miles. Even at full speed with no stops, Green World will take you about 25 minutes to reach the bottom. That is a long downhill trail.

Terri and I were not racing, or even going that fast. Still adjusting to the altitude we took many stops along the way and made sure to take plenty of pictures.


We both loved Green World and spent almost two hours coming down that trail, sometimes stopping to film clips of riders or just catch our breath. GH is perfect for beginners or just practice. It has countless berms, small wooden bridges, mellow rock gardens and the occasional climbing section. You can hit GH at full speed and really enjoy the flow. We saw people riding it with every level of bike from XC to DH.

As for our bikes, we couldn't have been more impressed. My 2013 Specialized Demo 8 1 tore up the earth with its Butcher 2.3" tires and the Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic brakes provided plenty of stopping power. Terri's Trek Session 8 protected her from the rough stuff with 200 millimeter of plush travel. She was able to maneuver technical spots that otherwise might have been beyond her capabilities.


After our long lap, Terri was beat but I was still determined to head back up. This time I wanted to ride something a little more challenging. I started on Green World until it reached a split section where you could choose another trail. The first one I took was an Intermediate (Blue) trail known as Free Speech.

Free Speech quickly became my new favorite trail. It starts by running alongside Green World as half of an old fire road but with separate elements. Then it splits and the real fun begins. Free Speech hits wooden rollers that chuck you into fast berms. The technical parts aim a little steeper down hill and then the next set of rollers go twice as high up and twice as fast down.

When I exited Free Speech, I opted to pour right into The Long Trail. Another Intermediate (Blue) trail, the Long Trail is all about speed but it also contains huge wooden rollers, one that provides a fair drop. Another neat thing about The Long Trail is that parts of it run adjacent to Rain Maker, the parks most popular Black Diamond trail. Riding The Long Trail allows you to see the huge elements that the truly awesome riders hit on the way down.


I felt great on the second lap down, now fully warmed up I was able to let off the brakes and descend to the bottom in no time flat. While we both loved the trails we could only afford a half day lift ticket so after my final decent we called it a day. There were plenty of other things going on, the Colorado Freeride Festival had still only just begun.

Here is the photo gallery of our ride on the mountain.


Also you can keep following this story by reading part 4.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Colorado Freeride Festival (Part 2 of 5)


Our journey to the Colorado Freeride Festival started at 4am with a dark, rainy drive to Tampa where we parked at the beautiful Intercontinental hotel and took a shuttle to Tampa International Airport. Our circuitous route would have us fly to Houston and then on to Denver. It was the first time we've had to navigate through time zone changes so we kept losing track of how long each flight was actually taking. We joked that we spent the day going back in time.

At 1 pm we arrived at the Denver International Airport. This place is a huge work of art with room to grow. The airport is actually pretty far from the mountains or even the city center. The layout spreads terminals across the tarmac connected by a very fast underground train. The main entrance known as the Jeppesen terminal is an enormous split level room full of restaurants with a tent like ceiling that bathes everyone in light, even under stormy skies.


Due to a timing error, my bad, we had to hang out for 4 hours before the shuttle arrived. It did give us a little time to start the process of acclimating to the cooler weather and higher altitude. We were pretty tired and felt a little light headed but food, water and slow moving seemed to help.

This delay allowed us to try some of the local eateries. I fell in love with a Queso Burrito from the Cantina Grill while Terri swam in a Dark Caramel Turtle Mocha with a shot of espresso from Caribou Coffee. As much as I love Starbucks, they better watch out for this company.

We learned our way around the ground transportation area and were picked up by a Home James mini bus for the 2 hour drive into the mountains.


Our driver was a longtime resident of Winter Park who loved to talk. He explained that the airport was purposely built far from the city so that it could expand as needed. There were several sections still being built. The taxiways alone are several miles long.

He pointed out several landmarks along the way which included an old army base that had been turned into an animal sanctuary. From the road you could see a long uninterrupted fence and inside there were hundreds of mounds that were home to Prairie Dogs. We even saw a dozen of the little critters watching us cruise by.

After forty minutes we left the flatlands and stormed up beyond 6,000 feet. We got to see a small herd of Buffalo who were protected in their own preserve. Rolling hills gave way to the enormous rocky mountains. The driver pointed out avalanche paths where during the winter heavy snows had given way and crushed hundreds of trees often blocking the passes. He noted the presence of Pine Beatles which were killing one out of every five trees due to the moderate winters. 

We passed tiny mining towns that are open to visitors where you can pan for gold or explore the caves. We passed ziplines, white water rafting, hiking trails, basically more activities than you could fit into a single trip. In one of those towns known as Empire was the original Hard Rock cafe (Opened 1934). Lastly we crossed the continental divide, a high point at over 11,000 feet that separates the east side of the mountains from the west.


Dropping down almost two thousand feet from the divide we arrived in Winter Park at 7:30 pm. The shuttle brought us to the front door of the Vintage hotel where we were greeted by the manager. He explained that a mountain bike team had bought out all of the remaining rooms in the hotel including ours. To compensate for this change he upgraded us to a room at Founders Pointe, right across the street from the village.

The shuttle helped us over to the main office and in no time at all we were enjoying a beautiful room on the third floor. We had a king size bed, flat screen TV, fireplace, kitchenette and a back door that opened out to the hot tub deck. Nothing to complain about here.


After putting away our bags we took a stroll through the village itself. Originally designed as a ski resort they have adapted the summer activities entirely around mountain biking. I counted three bike shops in first hundred feet of walking and that was before we reached the tent city known as Festivillage.

In the Festivillage was almost every major manufacturer of mountain bikes or parts along with half a dozen smaller ones. Included in the line up was BMC, Specialized, Trek, SRAM, Shimano, Jett, Clif Bars, Marzocchi, Suntour and Mavic. We also saw some well known riders like Ben Cruz, Jordi Lunn, Curtis Keene, Tyler McCaul and Kelly McGarry, whom we bumped into several times over the weekend. He probably thought we were stalking him.


Tuckered out by the 14 hour journey, we were too tired to hit a restaurant so we grabbed some food from the local mini-mart, returned to our room and promptly passed out. We were going to need our sleep, the next morning we had a whole lot of activities planned.

Throughout the weekend Terri and I were fascinated by the Mountain views, flowers and trails. Here is our photo gallery of Rocky Mountain nature. Enjoy.


Also, feel to continue following our journey in Part 3.

Colorado Freeride Festival (Part 3 of 5)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Colorado Freeride Festival (Part 1 of 5)


It's that time of year again, the largest Mountain Bike festival in the country is returning to Winter Park, Colorado. The Colorado Freeride Festival takes place on the weekend of July 25-28, 2013. This International competition includes a Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour Gold level Slopestyle event and an Enduro World Series race. There is an Epic Singletrack cross country race, an air downhill race and an intergalactic pond crossing event. Riders will battle it out for $45,000. worth of prizes while the audience enjoys a festivillage full of bike sponsors and games.

My wife Terri and I will be traveling to Trestle Bike Park to experience CFF for ourselves. This will be our first trip to Colorado so we are learning every step of the way. This is the first article in our five part series that will cover travel, lodgings, restaurants, bike rentals, racing and all manner of competition.


You wouldn't think there wouldn't be a lot to learn before you get on the plane but you'd be wrong. With the brilliance of the internet you can register, reserve and confirm many of your plans before even leaving the house. Let me give you some examples.

First let's put aside the obvious. Everyone knows that you can get your plane tickets reserved and paid for online, I think we all do it now. However, I do love that now you can pick your airline, stop overs, price ranges and even select your seat on each aircraft that you'll be on. If you are into great views you can pick the window that will be facing the direction you choose to see the ocean or deserts or in our case - the rocky mountains.

Photo by Dave Tempore
Moving on to hotel reservations, Trestle Bike Park is part of the Winter Park Resort group. Their website is very interactive. Not only does it give you information on where to stay, eat and play but also how to travel and you can even get package rates. It was here that we reserved our hotel room, rented downhill bikes and discovered where to find shuttle service from the Denver airport.

Our shuttle company is Home James Transportation as it specializes in the Winter Park area. You can learn about other travel options on the Denver International Airport's website which also provides you with a list of their restaurants and other amenities. We were even able to reserve parking at Tampa International Airport Parking Garage for the full weekend.


So what about the fun stuff? Thanks to an abundance of GoPro cameras you can go to Youtube and look up each trail at the bike park by name and then watch someone ride the trail to see what it is like. I've watched a dozen videos and I'm looking forward to the wide array DH trails that Trestle has to offer.

This goes the same for events. To get an idea what the action will be like at, for example, the Slopestyle competition you can find last year's finals in full or watch the highlights. Many of the same riders will be present but Slopestyle is one sport that progresses quickly. The tricks will be levels above what 2012 had to offer.


One last source of information on the area came from an unexpected source. Grand County Colorado put together an online television channel known as GrandCounty17.com. Here you can see commercials for everything in the county from lodging and activities to food and festivals.

There you have it, a wealth of online resources for anyone hoping to attend the big weekend. Terri and I are bringing our cameras, our enthusiasm and a desire for exploration. To find out what happened next - check out part 2 of our journey.

Colorado Freeride Festival (Part 2 of 5)


Saturday, July 20, 2013

UK Cycle-Clothing Opens Shop in Englewood


The Venice/Englewood area is fast becoming a fun and popular cycling destination. As local events (Cycling/Triathlons/Running) gain in notoriety, demand for related products has also increased. The most recent addition to the area is a United Kingdom based company known as Cycle-Clothing.com.

Cycle-Clothing is owned and run by cyclists Carlton and Joan Nash. For the past seven years the couple has been working directly with a UK manufacturer to deliver high quality jerseys, tights and Dri-fit T-shirts for low prices. While their primary business is online sales, many customers requested a place appropriate for fittings so in June 2013 they opened an Englewood storefront.


You might have seen Cycle-Clothing.com at the Englewood Triathlon or at Sharky's "Ride the Beaches" for whom they designed the official jerseys. They printed and produced 100 jerseys with only a 4-5 week turn around. Fifty percent of their business is custom apparel but they also sell standard shorts, shirts, jackets and accessories.

If you check out their website at www.Cycle-Clothing.com there is a list of jersey styles that include state and national logos plus Vapore and Cool Dry fabrics. They even have a clearance page.


While the couple gets settled in to the area they are already looking forward to upcoming events. Joan expresses a real enthusiasm for the gulf coast and all that it offers, "We'll be at the Venice Tri, the Siesta Key Tri and the Rev3 in November. In the meantime we are looking forward to meeting all of the local Cycling, Tri and Running groups and getting to work with them."

As a special introduction they are offering free designs for a per jersey price of $49.95 with a minimum order of five. The Dri-fit T-shirts (With unlimited logos) go for $39.95 each.

They can be contacted online, by phone, on Facebook or at their Englewood location.