Reaching new heights

Downhill riders giving rave reviews to Powderhorn trails

Dale Shrull / The Daily Sentinel Jesse Ruland hits the rock jump.



Dale Shrull / The Daily Sentinel Nathan Frahm, 14, catches some air



Darin Carville races in the expert men category.



Noah Spears came zipping down a stretch of singletrack lined with aspen trees and took aim at the center of the rock.

The dirt trail went right over the rock, and Spears went airborne. As he landed, a robust cheer went up from the small group of spectators as he disappeared down the path during the newly formed Sunday Scramble Mountain Bike Race series.

Since Powderhorn Mountain Resort opened its new mountain bike park, dirt has overtaken snow as the big news on the mountain.

Last weekend, the race series had more than 60 competitors, its largest turnout of the three races.

Powderhorn General Manager Sam Williams said they planned to launch the race series as soon as the trails opened.

“The race series is going excellent so far this summer and people are excited,” he said. “Getting the bike park up and going this year has been a priority of ours for a long time.”

The two singletrack trails at Powderhorn have been getting rave reviews from mountain bikers, and Williams said they have big plans for mountain bike races in the future.

“As it continues to spread word of mouth and we continue to market it, we really feel that eventually, with the quality of our trails, that we’ll be able to be a national stop for one of the big race series in the future,” he said.

Spears, who races in the professional division, is excited to find downhill trails so close.

“Having Powderhorn just 45 minutes away from where I live in Fruita is an absolute godsend. It’s really an oasis in the desert,” he said. “Previously, I had to drive upwards to two hours to get up into the aspens and out of the desert heat. I get up here whenever I get the chance and the trails are legit. Fun atmosphere, all my bros race up here.”

With young and old racers, clad in protective gear like helmets, goggles, elbow and knee guards and gloves, the competitors took two runs with the combined time determining the places.

The trail was challenging and fast with berms, jumps, rocks and difficult sections littered through the course.

The race was held on the easier blue trail but near the bottom, the race course cut over to the black trail, where the daunting rock jump awaited. For the less-experienced riders, there was an option to zip around the rock.

The trails, especially at high speed, can be very challenging, as one young rider discovered. His crash resulted in no injures but a mangled rear wheel, which made for a long hike down the mountain with the bike on his shoulders.

Eric Landis, another pro rider, said Powderhorn is now a great option for downhill bike fun,

“We live in Grand Junction and my wife, kids and I, we all have season passes,” he said. “What’s great, is we’re just up the hill from Grand Junction. It’s a short drive. I’ll take a race run, then go get my kids and go take a fun run with them. It’s such a great family atmosphere up here.”

The resort has been working toward opening up the mountain to downhill mountain biking for years, and now that it has become a reality, the summer has been a big success.

“Being able to move into full-time summer operations has been great, not only, for Powderhorn but for the community of the Grand Valley,” Williams said.

“As we continue to build out our trail network on the mountain, it’s only going to make the Grand Valley better as a world wide mountain biking destination.”

Powderhorn will host the final of four races in the series on Sept. 18.

More information can be found on the Web at http://www.powderhorn.com.

 


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