Vail Valley bikers roll with weather
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Avon resident and mountain biker Rob Matzkin has a strategy for riding on the Vail Valley’s muddy trails in rainy weather – “just go out, deal with it and hose it off,” he said.
He’s had to do that a few times recently, he said, pointing to some residual mud splatters on his jersey from riding the lower Corkscrew trail in Beaver Creek.
“I usually try to watch the weather. You kind of look outside and see what’s going on,” Matzkin said. “Mostly I’ve just said ‘Screw it,’ and gone anyway.”
For other mountain bikers, the recent rains and overcast skies, which have kept the area looking more like Seattle than Vail, has prevented them from launching full-on into the summer riding season.
Many riders were riding around Eagle for the first race in the Vail Recreation District’s Wednesday night series, the Eagle Ranch Classic. The first race was originally scheduled for May 27 in Wolcott. However, heavy rains in the days preceding the race forced organizers to cancel the race and reschedule it for late June.
“All the rain leading up to the race really caused the course to be deteriorated,” said race director Beth Pappas. “It wouldn’t really have been fun for anyone, and probably would have damaged the terrain, so we opted to postpone it.”
Last year, none of the early season races had to be canceled, but Pappas said that rough spring weather isn’t unexpected.
“Growing up in Colorado, I’ve come to expect any type of weather in the spring,” she said.
However, many said that spring, and the weather that comes with it, is the time for mountain bikers to head down to Eagle or Gypsum, where trails tend to be drier. In fact, the rain has improved the downvalley trails, some said.
“The rain has actually helped a ton, otherwise those trails get real shaky and sandy,” said Edwards resident Marc Thomas. “Now they’re all hardpacked and in great condition, due to the weather.”
Eagle resident Nadine Davis said she’s been sticking to the Berry Creek trails in Edwards and the Eagle trails, with pretty good success.
“Now and then I’ve gotten rained out, but downvalley the trails seem to dry pretty quick,” she said.
Many upvalley trails are still closed for elk migration or are too muddy to ride. The North Trail and Son of Middle Creek in Vail will be open June 15. Paulie’s Plunge in Eagle-Vail, Two Elk Trail, Meadow Mountain and Whiskey Creek will open July 1.
Working the weather system
Other riders have avoided the rain by taking advantage of the area’s quickly changing weather. It may rain for most of the day, but usually there’s a few hours of good weather at some point, riders said.
“You can’t always get out there,” Thomas said. “It’s bummed me out a little bit , but I’ve gone down to Eagle and gotten that hour or two window and been able to get some decent rides in.”
The rain has made some riders into amateur meteorologists, such as Matzkin, who said he tries to watch the weather radar and is willing to take his chances if he sees scattered showers.
“I try to take advantage of the slow moving systems,” Davis said. “I try to take any opportunity I can to ride. Once I went out there and thought, ‘Here it comes.’ But the clouds just sat there and I didn’t get rained on at all.”
However, Davis, who plans to race in the mountain bike series rain or shine, said that she hasn’t been too depressed by the rain.
“Even with this bad weather, this is still a beautiful place to live and play in,” she said. “Even without the 12 hours of blue skies we are used to, you’ve just got to go out and enjoy it.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.