Mar 19, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Zeke Lloyd | Illustration by Bibi Powers
On a particularly peculiar Halloween afternoon, 15 Colorado College students rode down the rocky terrain of Captain Jack’s trail. Each rider was dressed in costume, although none of the getups were so limiting as to impede the wearer’s mobility.
This particular ride through Cheyenne Canyon trail could be a treacherous one. Any loose pieces of fabric or billowing cloak could become caught in the spokes, leading to a long and dangerous tumble.
Not all mountain bike rides have to be so nerve-racking, though.
“You can have a great time without doing anything crazy,” said Clay Rodriguez ’23, a veteran mountain biker and CCOE Co-Op mechanic. Like cross-country or alpine skiing, mountain biking is an opportunity to appreciate the natural world. Rides over basic terrain can still provide stunning scenes and awe-inspiring outlooks.
Colorado Springs, situated near the mountains as it is, offers a wide variety of natural biking options. Driving westward for only a few minutes is all it takes to get to smooth, well-worn trails with great vantages of the city below.
Getting into more intense mountain biking is not as difficult as it might seem, either. Rodriguez, who be
gan bike racing in junior high, did not initiate his career by taking to the tallest mountains or the steepest trails.
“You start to build up your bike handling skills, even on the street. You can definitely apply what you know [to mountain biking],” Rodriguez said.
A beginner does not even need consistent access to a mountain. “You can practice mountain biking skills on a field, and it works pretty well,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I would do … That helps a ton.”
As bikers get better and better, there is often a draw to even more difficult terrain. George Downes ’23, another experienced biker and fellow Co-Op mechanic, posed a question that riders all over can use to gauge what they’re ready for: “How comfortable are you with being not comfortable?”
While a person’s first instinct might be to avoid paths that have especially challenging terrain, Downes offers a reminder that the difficulty of a single section does not make a whole trail unrideable. “You can always get off your bike and walk on the trail,” Downes said. “I still do that from time to time.”
Broken bikes also cause riders to dismount. The rocky ground and rough soil can cause problems for a bike, including punctures in a tire’s tubing. Downes’s most important piece of advice to mountain bikers: bring extra tubes or go tubeless.
If something does go wrong, though, the Ahlberg Gear House provides a bike repair service.
“We do all kinds of bike repairs here,” said Downes. “Pretty much anything you can think of can be done here for very little or nothing.” Bike rentals through Colorado College Outdoor Education are also very cheap.
From Halloween mountain biking adventures to the monthly tradition of a full moon midnight cruise to bike-packing from Colorado Springs to Moab, CC is full of biking opportunities.