For all the hype and history surrounding mountain biking in Colorado, it might come as a surprise that the sport’s international stewarding body never has considered any place in the state a “pinnacle” destination.
The Roaring Fork Valley is enjoying its first month as a Gold Level Ride Center under the exclusive rankings by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). The community joins six others with the designation: Boise, Idaho, Duluth, Minn., Oakridge, Ore., Park City, Utah, and Nelson and Rotorua in New Zealand.
Aspen and Snowmass always have been able to brag about skiing. Now “they also have world-class mountain biking to match,” IMBA executive director Dave Wiens said in a press release.
The announcement came at the end of January in a celebration shared by advocates, land managers, chambers of commerce and tourism boards across the valley that also includes Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.
It’s prime time for those players to boast about 300 miles of singletrack. Trail mileage is one consideration for IMBA’s Ride Centers, along with quality and variety and local services, from bike shops to lodges to brewpubs.
In the release, Wiens mentioned the Government Trail near Aspen and Basalt’s Hay Park and Arbaney Kittle trails as “backcountry Colorado classics that have defined mountain biking for so many riders.”
New trails at Aspen’s Sky Mountain Park form connections and loops for all-day adventures, the press release noted. Also new is the system at Glenwood’s Red Mountain, where along the Grandstaff Trail “grand views of Mount Sopris meet fun flow, big vertical drops and optional airtime.” Bigger drops are had from the lift-accessed alpine of Snowmass Bike Park.
IMBA gave a nod to trails closer to the middle of the valley, where one can swap desert terrain for higher, aspen-covered ground with sweeping views of the Elk Mountains. And appreciation also was given to the Rio Grande Trail, the recreation path connecting towns for 42 miles.
Wiens told The Gazette that no other Colorado hub is up for Gold Level consideration. Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs are on the Silver roster with 13 other members.
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