So when I tried lift-served downhill biking at Winter Park’s Trestle Bike Park , I was skeptical…and nervous. I went with my family. They kicked my butt, quickly progressing to rock gardens and step-ups.
But while I didn’t attempt many of the obstacles, I could keep up with them and I enjoyed it.
So now, five summers on, if given a choice between grinding it out on a cross-country bike or enjoying the flow of a downhill trail, I’m picking the downhill trail.
And I’m here to tell you: if I can downhill bike, you can downhill bike. Here are 10 reasons why you should give it a try.
1. There’s a trail for everyone.
Just as in skiing, trails are rated from easy green beginner runs to crazy, insane double black extreme runs.
While all levels of downhill trail will have some obstacles and features, most trails have alternate routes around the larger barriers. You won’t have to jump if you don’t want to jump.
2. It’s a full-body workout.
Unlike any other type of biking, you stand up while riding downhill. This means everything from your legs to your arms to your core is engaged. And that includes your brain, too.
DH biking can definitely be tiring, so be sure to bring some snacks for the chairlift and either wear a Camelbak with water, or stop occasionally to replenish.
3. The scenery and views are out of this world.
This one almost goes without saying. Ski resorts are found in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. While these mountains are gorgeous in winter when covered in snow, summer is even more special, with verdant forests of pine and aspen, alternating with green meadows lush with wildflowers.
Of course, if you’re going fast, you may not see very much of the landscape. But you can take it all in from the chairlift on your next lap. Or pull off the trail to catch your breath and soak in the scenery.
Make sure to bring a camera to take action photos of your friends.
4. The machine-built trails are professionally designed and constructed.
Downhill trails are often, wider, smoother and, to my mind, less intimidating than many cross-country trails which can be eroded with lots of roots and rocks sticking up or are adjacent to areas of extreme exposure.
At many parks, the downhill trails are machine-graded with banked turns for optimal speed. In between features, they are butter smooth and forgiving.