How to Get Started: Downhill Biking Made Easy

Lisa Craig - Granby Ranch

“Not every rider is a high-performance thrill seeker,” says Dan O’Connell.  “But there is a lot of interest for newer riders and families who are ready to get off the bike path and hit some more adventurous terrain.” O’Connell says knowing what features to look for, and how to get inexperienced riders started right, are the keys.
 
Bike Granby Ranch has added unique programs and terrain to help bridge the gap—here are some things novice riders should look for before hitting the trails:
·       Terrain features like rolls and berms that start easy, to build confidence, and gradually progress throughout the run to more challenging levels
·       Ridearounds that offer a “way out” for riders to get through super technical or expert spots
·       Family-friendly trails that provide a genuine singletrack mountain biking experience at a fun but gentle grade
·       Lift-accessed terrain for riders who, although physically fit, really feel the altitude at 9,000 feet.
·       A mix of cross-county and downhill trails that interconnect. Granby Ranch’s singletrack meanders through the cross-country ski trails, then rejoins the downhill trails to the base area, allowing riders to mix and match terrain and take breathers.

And what about the kiddos? “We see so many families where the parents are advanced riders and they want to share mountain biking with their kids but struggle to make it something the whole family can do,” O’Connell says. Here are his tips for getting kids downhill and mountain trail-ready: 
· Frequent the indoor or urban bike park. Get kids off the sidewalk; let them play, get out of their comfort zone, and test their skills before you come on any biking adventure. 
· Set kids up for complete success. Start on a very flat trail. Know how to work the bike comfortably and get very familiar with the gears. Master the flats and little ones will be ready for more. 
· Get outside help/instruction. Then learn the buzzwords from the coach or guide; reference “remember how they taught you to corner?” Work through the pro and your kids are more likely to listen. Granby Ranch offers free clinics every Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. 
· Come with the bike they own; as long as it is a mountain-style bike, it will be fine for children just beginning. There is a huge comfort level in riding a familiar or favorite bike to start. 
·  Get in gear. Most kids’ bikes come with only two chain rings, but when buying a bike, go for a triple chain ring, or “granny gear.” They cost more, but are worth it, allowing kids to spin more easily and keep up on steep trails. 
·  Let them start super young. Strider bikes have caused a revolution, with toddlers on two wheelers mastering handling and balance. Granby Ranch has Strider (pedal-less bike) terrain at the base with the modified, beginner-friendly pump track so that parents can sit on the deck and watch their kids play.
·  Get on the pump track.  The pump track is a great teaching tool that allows kids of all ages the opportunity to hone their bike handling skills in a fun, challenging, and safe environment.
 
Free Bike Clinics at Granby Ranch:
Bike Granby Ranch offers both high-performance and beginner-friendly terrain. Free hour-long bike clinics—on subjects like improving cornering and safe jumping technique—are available every Saturday from 10:30–11:30 a.m. at the Bike Shop in Base Camp Lodge.  For details and a schedule of clinic topics, visit www.granbyranch.com/free-clinics.html 
 
About Granby Ranch:
Granby Ranch is a four-season mountain community nestled against the Continental Divide, located only 76 miles from Denver, and only 20 miles from Winter Park, Colorado and the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Home to Ski Granby Ranch, Bike Granby Ranch and Golf Granby Ranch, the community offers chairlift access to thousands of acres of hiking and cross-country trails as well as world-class downhill mountain biking, a championship golf course, miles of gold-medal fishing and the friendliest family ski mountain around. Granby Ranch represents true value in the Colorado high country.  Visit www.granbyranch.com  for lodging options and activities at Granby Ranch.
 
Contact Lisa Craig at lcraig@granbyranch.com.

The Bent Fork Chronicles - Vol 5 Issue 3, 1 June 2012

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