“You know there’s technical parts on that path. And have you ever even tried to mountain bike at 9,000 feet?” The guy in the outdoor shop obviously didn’t want to lend me a bike. Maybe I didn’t look athletic enough. Maybe he didn’t like my Irish accent.
The lady at the hotel had told me that there was plenty of mountain biking to be done around Aspen, Colorado. But the person who I was meant to hire the bike from wasn’t showing me much enthusiasm. So I backed out dejectedly from the Four Mountain Sports shop. And instead stumbled into Aspen Bikes two blocks further down. There I met Kevin from Newcastle, the shop’s very own owner. And within 5 minutes, I was kitted out with a full-sus, a helmet, and a suggested route to follow.
Though Aspen claims to be a mountain biking mecca, it wasn’t that easy to find the revered trails. Kevin told me to start at Smugglers Mountain Road at the edge of town. That proved to be a nasty climb up some graveled road that I shared with many considerate hikers who moved out of my wobbly way. There the initial effects of altitude kicked in, taking me the rest of the day to get used to Aspen’s lack of air.
At a crossroads, I headed north east, following the Hunter Cut off trail. This brought me down to Hunter Creek via some technical rocky descents that proved more fun than dangerous. I figured this is what the Four Mountain Sports guy was trying to keep me away from, that total killjoy of a man. I then biked up the valley on some cool cross country trails, with stunning snow capped mountains peeking out from both valley ends. Then I turned back, and rode up Red Mountain Road towards what is locally known as Four Corners.
The descent from Four Corners to the village of Lenado was the best bit of Kevin’s suggested course – 15 minutes of rocky single track through pristine pine forests. From Lenado, I then rode 5 miles west along a valley floor that turned from jeep trail to tarmac within a few miles. This brought me to Woody Creek, and a local Mexican tavern that served up bowls of chicken, rice, and avocado soup to the local biking community.
I eventually cycled back to Aspen via the Rio Grande Trail, a placid track that paralleled the interstate I82. I was joined by loads of other local bikers out for their weekend spin. I wanted to cycle back to the Four Mountain Sports killjoy and tell him how wrong he was. Instead I decided to write a blog post to say, if you ever want to hire a mountain bike in Aspen, Kevin from Aspen Bikes is your only man.