“Do you know how cool this place is?” I asked my husband. “You can ride Valmont, Ruby Hill, Golden, Frisco, and Trestle… so many bike parks! I’ll never have to pedal my bike uphill again!”
After 23 years of trail riding, I’ve found a renewed sense of fun since we moved to Colorado a few months ago. While I’ve taken the occasional lift-accessible ride over the years, I never really spent much time working on jumping and riding downhill. I feel like I’m learning to ride all over again, and every new skill feels like a light bulb is going on.
Valmont is the closest bike park for me, that’s my “home” bike park, and recently, I’ve also spent time at Ruby Hill which provides a different type of fun. The nice thing about bike parks is they have progressions, so you can start small and work your way up. You can also session sections at a time on certain tracks if you want to work on a specific skill.
I often find myself riding solo at the bike park. Usually it’s for an hour or so in the afternoon, and I’ll work on one skill for that time. Sometimes it’s pumping. Sometimes it’s just the flight time. Other times it’s a matter of working on the basics – much like skiing, cornering is fundamental in mountain biking, and I’ve been working on my cornering for the past couple of weeks. Making the cornering solid has made my riding faster overall, and because everything is faster, it means I need to work on my timing.
The first time I took air at Valmont was on a small slopestyle run. The run consists of a corner or small drop to start, then several small tables with optional kickers. The run ends with a berm that you ride out into the fire road to return. The initial drop on the slopestyle line took some practice before I was able to build up confidence on it. Once I did, I found myself cleaning it nicely.
My head does interesting things when I’m in the air, “Oh cool, I’m in the air! I’m flying! Need to land safely… point the bike down to match the face…”
Being in the air is scary. And exciting. And fast. And all I can think is, “I wanna do that again!”
Riding at the park has also brought me a renewed sense of community. The wonderful riders I’ve met have also helped take my park riding to where I’m having a new kind of fun on the bike. Amy Chavez, a biking buddy of mine, is always willing to go out for a ride with me, help me work on my skills, and share stoke with all around. Amy has been helping me get over my fears. It can be difficult to turn off your brain to ride something you know you can do, but your mind doesn’t want you to. Following someone down the route is helping to build my confidence—even on some things that are stuck in my rabbit brain.
More and more now, my confidence is building.