As a professional skier I should be the kind of person who wants endless winter, yet I’m the person who can never get enough summer. Last night the temperatures dipped and we felt the first breaths of winter. Our gardens were safe, but I felt for sure that it might have frozen in Crested Butte, 3,000 feet above our farm in Paonia, Colorado. Between putting up food for the winter and work, I can only hope for several good months of riding here in the lowlands, dropping me fit as a fiddle into an epic powder skiing season.
Surprisingly, Paonia has some pretty amazing riding for a town that is obsessed with organic farming and coal mining. Most have never seen clipless pedals, full-suspension, or women’s specific carbon 29er Fate, but who really cares what gear you have or what you look like? It’s the riding that counts. Most of our trails are on Jumbo Mountain, where the riding feels like Fruita with ancient juniper shade trees. The trails have been built over the years by four dedicated local men who enhanced the trail system on the BLM land adjacent to town. Each gentleman’s style comes through—one can feel the difference if you are on Tom the Dentist’s trail system or have moved through to Jim Graff’s or Ray Taylor’s. We have also recently gained official public access for these BLM trails through Hawk’s Haven, and can hopefully fight to have them protected from proposals to drill for oil and natural gas.
As the aspens start to change to their yellow splendor, I always love returning to Crested Butte to ride. Lately there are a ton of new trails around town, thanks to the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association working with the Forest Service. Don’t miss the new Lupine trail, and the new Lupine trail part two—the contouring bermed singletrack makes me giggle. These are some of the best flowing trail ever built in Crested Butte, and even great for hand cyclists.
While generally in winter, I pack my bikes away for the rocketed fat skis, there are many times around the farm when I can ride on the frozen snow, ice or mud. When my two Akbash livestock guardian dogs are off duty from guarding against mountain lions, bears, deer and elk, they love a good ride up onto the Grand Mesa from our farm. Right now, we have eight bears all vying for our peaches, so they usually have to stay put and guard the chickens and orchard fruits, but in the winter, they get to enjoy a snowy ride around the farm too.
Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Freeskier, founder of The Save Our Snow Foundation and an award-winning global cooling consultant who has spent her life dedicated to solutions for climate change.
Hit the trail with Alison this season with KEEN Rippin Chix Mtn Bike Camps with Osprey Pack demos or the slopes this winter with Rippin Chix Steep Skiing Camps this winter at Silverton, Whitewater, Red Mountain, Alpental and Crystal Mountain—complete with complimentary Osprey pack demos!