However, solo rider and Olympic snowboarder Justin Reiter, out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, as well as Golden, Colorado-based Jessica Martin, recently usurped them.GrindTV caught up with a few of these peak-bagging mountain bikers to get the lowdown on treading lightly, 14er etiquette and tips for first-timers.
Prepare to hike-a-bike — a lot“For some people, the barrier of entry is walking,” says Fohrman, who is just shy of completing the MTB-friendly 14er set and is hoping to bike another Front Range peak before the snow falls. “It’s about 75 percent carrying up and 90 percent riding down.”
But terrain varies by peak, ranging from steep, technical scree fields requiring long hike-a-bikes and route-finding to boot-smoothed, fast, flowy descents. For example, after biking Mt. Sherman, Fohrman was fresh enough to spend the rest of the afternoon riding bikes in Aspen. After Mt. Shavano, not so much: “It was a 12-hour day with 8,500 vertical feet and I could barely walk.”
Start small — and smartMt. Elbert is widely considered the most bikeable 14er. While not fully rideable on the ascent due to some steep technical trail sections at the top, Elbert’s downhill is well traveled and smooth. It’s the only high peak Fohrman and partner rode summit to trailhead without touching a foot down. It’s worth noting, however, that riding a 14er still requires serious planning, navigating and packing skills.
Core trails disappear into a maze of social paths, attitude sickness kicks to the curb any endurance you thought you had and mountain microclimates are constantly morphing. Seebeck wrote in his blog from Oct. 2, “The weather was changing. Probably not the best time to be heading up a monster mountain, I remember us all saying the night before how cool it would be to have a nice dusting of snow for the climb, mind you the first actual snow we all would have seen this year. Our wish came true.”
Be the nicest person on the trailFohrman suggests real trail-side conflict between hikers and bikers on 14ers is made up by media. His experience has been the opposite. “We didn’t have one negative interaction over 12 peaks. People were friendly, they waved and started conversation,” he says. “They’d say things like, ‘You are crazy’ or ‘That’s so cool.’ Some people are curious, and that starts the conversation too.”
Seebeck agrees the fate of future mixed use on 14ers is all in the bikers’ hands. “I have been both a courteous, kosher rider and also a rowdy, fast, rude rider, and I’ve noticed there are usually never any problems with hiker/biker interaction when you stop to take the time and say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you.’ Most hikers are more than happy and quick to move for you if you are polite and slow down a bit.”It’s simple, he says: “Don’t be a d–k.”
With mutual respect, there’s enough magic to go around according to mountain biker Mason Johnston, who rode his first 14er this fall. “After completing a 14er on your bike, you discover a world that is unknown. You gain knowledge that a classroom cannot teach you. The incredible views show you a different perspective that forever leaves a mark on your life.”
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