SUMMIT COUNTY—Long known as a Mecca for mountain biking, Keystone is upping the ante this summer with a pair new race series designed to take cardio and adrenaline levels to new heights. And for non-racers, the resort has built a brand-new beginner mountain bike park near the base of the River Run gondola that is a perfect place to introduce youngsters and newcomers to one of Colorado's most popular summer sports.
The new series of Ascent Races
started June 15 and continues with races July 20 and August 17. Competitors race the clock uphill, tackling a grueling vertical course that will have legs and lungs burning. Racers often refer to these contests as the "race of truth," since you can't rely on teammates or tactics. Riders start at one- or two-minute intervals and the rules are simple — the fastest time wins. Prizes are awarded to the top three finishers in both men’s and women’s categories. Complete race information is available online.
For downhillers, check out the new Enduro Series
— a race that lets competitors choose their own route and compete against the clock and the pack. Riders start at the top of Dercum Mountain in a mass start before tackling their chosen line in a free-for-fall back to the base. The races are set for June 21, July 19 and Aug. 16, with individual event and series overall prizes offered to the top three men and women.
Check-in for the races is at Gondola Plaza between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Minimum age is 14. The entry fee is $15 or $38.25 for the entire series and a bike-haul ticket is required for all competitors. Register online at www.bikekeystone.eventbrite.com
If you’re not quite ready to downhill-bomb the mountain yet, get some practice on the brand new Pump Track Park, built on the vacant Goldbug Lot that was once slated for development of 165 residential timeshare units. The track features rollers, banks and features for youngsters and beginners who want to practice before hitting the mountain.
The park will also has two short single-track loops in the surrounding wooded area, giving newcomers to the sport the chance to learn and improve basic skills that will translate to the more challenging downhill terrain offered in Keystone’s Mountain Bike Park.
The park features more than 100 miles of single-track trail suitable for family touring and killer downhill runs. The Drop Zone is rated as one of the best progressive mountain bike terrain parks in the country, featuring rock gardens, drops and high-speed features that test even the best riders.