A Day in Winter Park, CO
I was deep into the second week of my 2018 road trip when I was driving into Denver. It was the third major city on my trip (after San Diego and Tucson) and I was looking forward to an unplanned 4 days of great food, trails, and beer. My bike was itching to be ridden since I only rode once since San Diego.
I drove up that morning from Durango and had recently driven across the Million Dollar Highway to arrive in Golden at about 9pm. The drive was long and beautiful; I stopped many times to shoot the spectacular landscape and to enjoy the small towns along the way. It was dark and I had been driving for almost 12 hours.
After waking from a restful night in the back of my 4Runner, I got on a call with my friend Ernie who had lived in Colorado Springs for a decade. He asked me what I intended to spend my day doing, and I told him I wanted to get on the bike. I was thinking of driving to nearby Breckenridge (not knowing that its neighbor Keystone has the better bike park), but he told me to check out this place called Winter Park. He said it was the best bike park in Colorado, and it was only an hour’s drive from my location.
I drove over the treacherous mountain pass into Winter Park and arrived at about 9:00 a.m. I pulled into the parking garage of the quiet ski resort and walked around a bit. The facility was under some Summer construction and looked as if it was about 70% closed up tight, but the bike park looked to be opening on time and fully functional. I returned to the 4Runner and started to remove my bike so that I could prep it for the lifts opening at 10:00 a.m.
As I worked on my bike, another truck pulled into the garage and a guy pulled his bike out of the bed. Not knowing anything about the area, I decided to ask him if he knew what to expect from the bike park.
It turns out Chet was also a lone traveler and was on a multi-week bike tour around America just like me. He was originally from Chicago and had a month to kill over the Summer, so he decided to hit the road and ride.
Chet said he didn’t know much about Trestle, but he added that I was welcome to tag along with him for the one day I would be riding there. He had been there the day before and knew the trails not well enough to be a pro, but enough to not get lost (unlike me). I was happy for the guidance as I felt like a fish out of water.
We embarked on a day of lifts and downhills that rivaled anything else I had done on a bike. The conversations going up were fun and educational (he told me about Seth’s Bike Hacks on a chairlift at Trestle), and the downhills were smooth and fast. There wasn’t a bad run all day.
Trestle is filled with a very wide variety of runs that appeal to riders of all speeds and talents. The dirt is tight, the jumps are smooth, and the features are well built. I had never been to a bike park before, and this place was nothing less than a revelation. I was not ready for the level of excitement I got while barreling down the mountain, only to get on a lift and do it all again!
I was hooked. Bike parks are AMAZING!
We rode until about 3pm. I bowed out one run before Chet because I was getting tired and I didn’t want to risk a crash with so much of my trip still ahead of me. We met for a beer at the end of the day at the Vertical Bistro. We drank beer and caught up on all the fun and traded info at the end of the night. We will ride together again.
I ended up getting a cheap room nearby instead of sleeping in the 4Runner that night. I needed a shower, and my body wanted a mattress. I earned it.