Mountain Biking in Aspen

Did I say I love mountain biking? Just kidding, I still do, even if it isn't the easiest sport out there but I'll tell you what...the climbs are worth it to reach the sweet single tracks, and that is where all the fun begins as shown on this latest post about my ride up Tiehack and down to the Government Trail.

The love affair with my mountain bike has been enhanced since I was gifted a new brighter than orange Niner for my birthday in May, combine that with my new addiction for Strava as I track my gains for good with Brake the Cycle, I now have even more reason to perfect the switchbacks and conquer my mental blocks over roots and rocks.

In a time when the uncertainty for not just myself, but for each individual in my family causes overwhelming anxiety, I am doing what I can to rather than feel afraid, feel completely alive.

Sadly, many of my riding friends have not been available due to injuries or travel, and so I often find myself biking solo when I’m not biking with my husband and son. What keeps compelling me to venture out there on my own is the feeling I get when I do conquer that which was so difficult before, as well as the beautiful new terrain that Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and Aspen Snowmass keep rolling out. So here are my five favorite rides for Intermediate riders:

Skyline Park

Smuggler to Behind the Sign to Lollipop to Tootsie Roll to Hummingbird to 4 Corners and down Lenado for about 4 Margies at Woody Creek Tavern.

Buttermilk Mountain (don’t be fooled by the name. It’s a grunt!).

A steep uneventful grunt up a jeep road that winds its way up from Tiehack to Buttermilk with a few steep single tracks that are non-directional that one can veer off on to go through the trees if one is brave enough. As I climb I often think about a time when I biked the same ride back in 1997. A time when my mind was not on my aching legs but on the inconceivable fact that my father lay in bed dying from Melanoma. I remember wishing for my strength and prayers to somehow help him to get better. He passed away that November.

I’ll also never forget bonding with one of the owners from The C Lazy U Ranch over a conversation on mountain biking when I stayed there last summer.  He told me that he had decided he was getting to the age where it was time to let go of certain friends, but the ones he knew he would keep forever were the mountain bikers. “They just have the best personalities,” he said, “And they love life.” I’m thinking that’s the general rule to mountain bikers, you’ve got to love living hard.


About halfway up the climb steepens, and that’s when the abusive voice inside my head pushes its way in trying to make me quit,  “You’ve never been an endurance trainer. You are not that kind of person to push yourself. You don’t have to go all the way to the top. THIS SUCKS. You’re going to get sick. Abort…abort!!!” But I forge ahead until finally, I make it to the top. That’s when the benefits come; the views, the single track down to the Government Trail, a long winding flowy trail that switchbacks down through beautiful Aspen groves.

Now I know that many people do not have the kind of lifestyle that lends itself to spending time on a bike. I’m just saying….if you do then you should try it. You’ll feel younger. And you’ll feel like a badass.

“There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs,” I know, I’m still climbing them and I have a long way to go….but I’m getting in shape on the way up!~ Zig Ziglar

“You never escape the presidency. It travels with you everywhere you go. And there’s not a moment where you don’t think about being President — unless you’re riding mountain bikes as hard as you possibly can, trying to forget for the moment.” ~ President George W. Bush, during the final moments of his final press conference as president (Never thought I’d be quoting this man, but found it telling).

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11 thoughts on “Mountain Biking in Aspen”

  1. Great post, and right on, badass! There is something so zen found in a steady uphill, and not thinking about anything but the moment. One of my favorite climbs is not far from you, above Ruedi Reservoir, Frying Pan Rd. to Hagerman Pass – cars are rare. I believe the road was a railway, so it’s a steady grade. And it’s Beeeautiful! Your Buttermilk excursion sounds more challenging, but for something different… I’ve been on my own badass journey these past 5 months, and I love it!

    • Greta, I’ve been following you on your journey! I’ll have to try that ride, since I’m going to try EVERYTHING. The only thing, I don’t want to have to drive first…just want to be on my bike!

  2. Fun story! For those who may not know, Sun Dog Athletics pioneered mountain biking instruction in the Roaring Fork and Grand Valley in 1996. We’ve instructed over 200 women thru our Fruita Mountain Bike Camps alone and currently offer both private lessons & clinics, in order to quickly gain new skills to improve safety, performance and maximize the mountain lifestyle! You’re invited to ride with one of our five passionate instructors; each living & cycling in Aspen for over 25 years, and save years of time (and pain) over the School of Trial and Error or tips from friends! Hope to ride with you soon!
    Erik Skarvan, Owner/Instructor, Sun Dog Athletics (970) 925-1069

    • Way to go with the promo opp Erik! If you want more publicity how ’bout inviting me up for a clinic. I’ll allow you to bring your video camera.

  3. Now you know how i feel when I hike, ski do anything for that matter that involves any kind of exercise with you, Michele and all those crazy Aspenite friends of yours! I mean really, the best workout for me is buying a pair of Jimmy Cho’s, a Gucci pocket book then going to lunch!!!
    I actually do love those very tough workouts, hikes, bike rides…they are hell while you are doing it but so invigorating when you are finishes. I loved how you wrote about the psychological drama of it all as well, how you though of Daddy, after all he was our original trainer!
    I remember once biking Maroon bells with you and Michele…I had just got in from the East Coast….We started going up hill…I’m mubbleing and swearing under my breath…completely hating you two as you were laughing at me….scooting up the hill and turning around to circle around me in peels of laughter…I tell you…pay back is a bitch!!!
    Butter milk easy!!! Ha!
    Love you

    • Mouse – I guess I have to write a funny post to get a funny reply from you!

      Judging from all of your highfalutin photos of you and all of your beautiful fashion statement friends party hopping around Nantucket, one would think that you were all about your Jimmy Choos, but I know differently and that you are more of a nut than I ever could be when it comes to being sculpted so put that in your pipe and take a deep inhale!

      For the record, I’m glad that your memories are so distorted.

      I’m looking forward to your kicking my ass, yes I swore on my blog…thanks to your coaching, in Pilates this summer.


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