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.