Vail Symposium presents ‘Biking in the Backcountry,’ a woman’s story of riding 14ers |

Vail Symposium presents ‘Biking in the Backcountry,’ a woman’s story of riding 14ers

Between July 31 and Oct. 2, Jessica Martin became the first woman to summit and descent all of the legal Colorado 14ers with her mountain bike. She will be at Donovan Pavilion on Thursday, Jan. 21, as part of the Vail Symposium's Unlimited Adventure Series.
Special to the Daily

If you go ...

What: Biking in the Backcountry: Riding Colorado 14ers, part of Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure Series.

When: 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21.

Where: Donovan Pavilion, 1600 South Frontage Road W., Vail.

Cost: Free with a $10 suggested donation at the door; Crazy Mountain beer will be available for purchase.

More information: Visit

Jessica Martin is living life on the edge of what she thinks is possible, pushing her to boundaries never crossed before.

Between July and October, Martin, 29, became the first woman to summit and descend all of the legal-to-ride 14ers in Colorado with a mountain bike. That’s 14 ascents of mountains 14,000 feet or more with a mountain bike on her back and 14 trips down.

“It was really random,” said Martin, who maintains a full time job as an organ recovery specialist with Donor Alliance. “It kind of took its own form as we went along.”

Martin will be at Donovan Pavilion today, as part of the Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure Series. She’ll talk about the motivations, tribulations and personal growth that come with pioneering a sport.

“Vail loves a good story of adventure, and we’re all adventurous in our own right.”John O’NeillVail Symposium marketing manager

“I want to take people inside the journey,” she said.


Martin, of Golden, has always been inspired and enjoys riding her mountain bike through high-alpine terrain. She started this journey two years ago, hiking up Mount Elbert with her bike and ex-boyfriend.

This summer, she started with Mount Sherman under a full moon, summiting before sunrise. It was “magic,” she said, and since it was only a six-hour excursion, she went on another ride with friends later that day.

Although, not all of them were that easy. Previously, she had to turn around when she encountered too much snow on Mount Sherman. She also recalls scrambling on all fours over scree fields and long, 18-hour days.

“At the end of the day, when you get back safely, somehow you forget all of that,” Martin said.

On about half of the 14ers, Martin had friends along for the adventure, and the other half she did solo. She said a lot of them were more about hiking around with her bike than actual mountain bike rides down. Although, she’s looking forward to doing some of the more rideable ones again.

Martin said her tale is one of taking ownership of your adventures and taking ownership of your life, empowering self-growth along the way.

“I had to take a very active role in planning all of these, and that in itself was empowering because I don’t think women do that a lot,” she said.


Martin is planning to bring Ptery, her Yeti 7 mountain bike, to her presentation in Vail. (She named it after her favorite dinosaur, the pterodactyl, which she likes because of the freedom it gets from flying.)

She’ll be speaking for one of the first times in front of an audience about her journey and more as part of the all-female Unlimited Adventure Series.

“When people started hearing that story, it gained traction for a reason because it’s a great story to tell,” said John O’Neill, marketing manager for the Vail Symposium. “So we’re really excited to bring her here to share it in person.

“Vail loves a good story of adventure, and we’re all adventurous in our own right.”

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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