Rendezvous Mountain Bike Capital USA™ 2017
Visit Winter Park, Colorado
Rendezvous Mountain Bike Capital USA ™ Weekend
By: Tyler Macleod
Mountain biking is practically synonymous with Winter Park, Colorado during the summer months, and few weekends define the area to the extent in which the Rendezvous Mountain Bike Capital USA ™ Weekend does.
With over 600 miles of cross-country trails flowing like blood veins of the Fraser Valley on top of two separate downhill parks at Winter Park Resort and Granby Ranch, it becomes increasingly hard to label any other town in the country as the undisputed U.S. capital of the mountain bike community. Bikers of all disciplines – from the downhill adrenaline junkie to the cross-country enthusiast – flock to the valley like moths to a flame once the snow retreats, and perhaps no other weekend emits the magnetic energy like this particular one.
Falling on the weekend of July 28th through 30th for 2017, this particular Mountain Bike Capital USA™ Weekend failed to let the finicky Rocky Mountain weather bring it down. As steady showers – which tend to be uncommon this time of year – threatened to rain on the parade of bikes that gathered in Hideaway Park on Saturday morning, it was evident that no amount of moisture or lack of sun was going to prevent riders from taking advantage of Rendezvous’ – and Winter Park’s – signature summer event.
Officially commencing on the afternoon of Friday, July 28th, the Rendezvous Mountain Bike Capital USA™ Weekend kicked off at Winter Park’s Hideaway Park with a pre-ride meet and greet that allowed participants to socialize with the coaches who would lead them through various skill lessons throughout the weekend. After riders were divided into groups based on ability levels, the celebrity bike coaches – who included Fraser-raised, five-time National Champion Alison Powers; Alison Dunlap, Ann Trombley and Sarka Ruzickova Swenson – led riders through a series of drill and obstacle courses, which were both fun and challenging. Topics and lessons ranged from basic to intermediate bike control skills, including body position, cornering and descending, to bike maintenance how-tos such as proper tire pressure, fitting your bike and brake and suspension adjustment. Local bike shop Epic Mountain Sports was even on hand throughout the weekend to help provide general bike maintenance guidance to all participants. Friday’s session ended with a hospitality reception sponsored by Rendezvous in Hideaway Park and a Headwaters Trails Alliance Pub Crawl Fundraiser later in the evening.
Saturday morning – while soggy and wet – still saw countless riders congregating at Hideaway Park for the second, and first full day of mountain biking clinics and activities. Beneath cloudy, rain-soaked skies, riders were eagerly welcomed with breakfast, snacks and coffee at the Rendezvous tent, and new-comers were able to register and pick up their complimentary t-shirts and goodies that also came alongside complimentary drink and lunch tickets, a Sunday Fitness in the Park invitation, as well as discounted tickets to both Winter Park Resort and Granby Ranch.
After meeting with the coaches, and once again diving into skill-based riding groups, bikers were ready to disperse for their ability and agility rides with the coaching professionals. For those looking for a more relaxed, go-at-your-own-pace day, there was also a free, family-oriented ride along the Fraser River Trail that included six “fun-filled stops,” which offered free prizes, gift bags, water bottles and more to help get parents and kids alike excited about all the great things that mountain biking in Winter Park has to offer. There was even a free helmet decorating area at Rendezvous where participants could add a little flare to their safety gear.
Midday brought about the Skills Camp, which was comprised of more drills and obstacle courses to help push riders’ abilities in a fun, yet challenging environment. After lunch – and a few beers, of course – riders got to sit in on a lecture from local talent Alison Powers before separating once again into various ability groups where riders could get further personalized training and instruction with the coaches.
As instruction came to a close, participants had the option to conclude the day with a ride along the Fraser River Trail and into Winter Park Resort to spectate the ever-entertaining Intergalactic Pond Crossing competition where riders hoped to steer their bikes successfully across a narrow path over the resort’s pond.
The Rendezvous Mountain Bike Capital USA Weekend coincided with the Colorado Freeride Festival at Winter Park Resort – an event that annually draws athletes from all over the world to compete in events ranging from cross-country races to the highly-publicized Maxxis Slopestyle Open, where freeriders tackle massive wooden and dirt features in an attempt to put down their best tricks for a shot at the podium.
While Saturday’s showers resulted in a postponement of the Maxxis Slopestyle Finals until Sunday morning, spectators still got to watch some carnage ensue during the Intergalactic Pond Crossing. After all, would a little rain really matter if most of the competitors would end up going for a swim anyhow? The crowd cheered as riders young and old fought to make it across the pond, but perhaps the loudest cheers echoed as a result of those who didn’t quite make it.
And as luck would have it, Sunday gave way to clear blue skies and ample sunshine, meaning participants in the Rendezvous Mountain Bike Capital USA Weekend got both a sunny yoga session in the morning at Hideaway Park, as well as a dry seat for the much-anticipated Maxxis Slopestyle Finals. As the sun beat down on the course, riders threw down gravity-defying tricks as they rode down the course made possible by Winter Park Resort’s own Trestle Bike Park. Big name riders such as Ryan Nyquist and Denver local DJ Brandt had the crowd roaring, and in the end, it was Nicholi Rogatkin who came away with the first-place finish after landing his signature Twister – a 1080-degree spin on the final jump of the course.
The entire weekend proved to be – once again – a defining weekend for both the Rendezvous and Winter Park Community, despite Mother Nature’s attempt to drag it down. If you missed out this year, make sure to mark your calendar for 2018 – you won’t regret it!
An East Coast transplant, Tyler grew up just north of Baltimore, Md., where he studied Journalism and New Media at nearby Towson University. He moved to Grand County in the fall of 2011, and aside from a brief stint in Bozeman, Mont., has called the Fraser Valley home ever since. Currently, he is a freelance writer and photographer who spends the majority of his free time snowboarding, cycling, and hanging out at the local skatepark.