When the snow melts in Colorado ski country, it’s time to hang up the skis and get out the mountain bike. In Breckenridge, mountain biking is as popular in the summer as skiing is in the winter. But just like skiing, it takes some practice.
To give guests the skills they need for a great day on the mountain bike trail, several Vail Resorts offer mountain biking school. Similar to ski school, these classes are taught by ability level and include a guided run down the mountain.
I would never have considered mountain bike school before our trip, after all, my family knows how to ride a bike. However, after spending a few hours with Eric Zerowin, who at the time was the Ski & Ride Supervisor and Instructor at Breckenridge Ski Resort, I can’t imagine heading up the mountain without a lesson, here’s why.
Why Go to Mountain Bike School?
You may be thinking, I don’t need bike lessons, my family knows how to ride a bike. Honestly, before our trip, I would never have thought about Mountain Bike School. But for those of us who aren’t regularly on a bike, much less a mountain bike and kids who are used to riding on asphalt roads or sidewalks, looking over the handlebars down a 12,000+ ft. mountain can be scary. If you fall, it’s a rocky landing.
That said, a trip to Colorado wouldn’t be complete without doing a bit of mountain biking, especially when you can get a lift UP the mountain. Here’s why you should consider Mountain Bike School.
Mountain Bike School Training Park
The mountain bike school at Breckenridge Resorts starts at a training park. Instructors check everyone’s gear, making sure helmets fit correctly and if you are bringing your own bikes, checking them out for a safe a comfortable ride. Once the gear is set, instructors watch as students attempt a series of elements present on the mountain such as rock paths, tight spaces and bridges.
Students learn how to steer through often rocky switchback turns both up and down the mountain. Once basic skills are mastered, students run through two different courses, in the open and through the trees.
Why Hire a Mountain Bike Guide at Breckenridge Ski Resort?
If students are ready, it’s time to head up the mountain where instructors lead the way down the dirt road, set the pace, and guide the group through the trail. Even if you skip the training school, consider a guide for the first couple trips down the mountain. The guide knows the trail, so bikers can concentrate on obstacles rather than way finding. Plus, by setting the pace, the guide ensures no one gets out of control or goes too fast.
My three children are at very different ability levels on a bike. Normally the instructor would have split us into two groups, but we opted to stay together. My youngest isn’t overly confident on flat ground yet, the middle is a good biker, but has never attempted mountain biking and the oldest is familiar with mountain biking having done Beaver Creek Mountain a few years ago.
Why Mountain Bike School is good for all levels
All three got something out of the school. My youngest improved by leaps and bounds. Although he didn’t attempt riding down the mountain – yet, he rides with a lot more confidence and I feel a lot better just watching him on the steep mountain paths around town.
My middle son thought the paths were going to be a smooth, fast ride on dirt. He wasn’t expecting the rocky loose terrain and the need to go slower to stay in control and was surprised to find his arms hurt at the end of the run. The oldest felt the school gave him more confidence and made the ride more enjoyable. My husband echoed that sentiment too.
6 Tips for Mountain Biking with Kids in Breckenridge
- The Breckenridge mountain bike training park is located just past the Gold Coaster ride and is open to all mountain bikers, not just those staying at the resort. Visit whenever you need a refresher or as a warm up to heading up for a ride down Peak 8. The resort is adding a pump track soon. A pump track is a series of hills that allow students to get used to riding up and down and learn how to let the hill propel them
- If you are bringing your own bikes, make sure they have front suspension. Just because you are riding a ‘mountain bike’ doesn’t mean it’s suitable for the rugged and rocky terrain of a mountain like Peak 8.
- Reservations are recommended, but they will take walk-ups if space allows. Breckenridge has two lessons a day – 10 am and 1:30 pm. The morning session is best as afternoon weather in Breckenridge can be a problem.
- Ratios for mountain bike school are 4 to 1. Exceptions can be made for families or groups. If a group has different abilities, they’ll split them up.
- You don’t have to go up the mountain, if you’d rather use your 2.5 hours in the training park learning skills, that’s fine. The bike haul pass is good for the rest of the day, so after instruction, students can take a break and attempt the mountain later on their own.
- Instructors tailor the lesson to student abilities. They’ll spend more or less time on skills and head up the mountain when students feel ready. It may be that you spend 10 minutes in the training park and then do several guided rides down the mountain.
Mountain Biking in Breckenridge
After our Mountain biking school, we were more confident riding the many bike paths around town. We even participated in Breck Bike Week in July. My husband and older kids did a poker ride, while the youngest and I did a go fish ride along the blue river trail.
On our list for our next visit is biking from Breckenridge to Frisco, and Breckenridge to Dillion. (you can also go from Frisco to Breckenrigde and Dillion to Breckenridge). Although this isn’t necessarily what you would consider mountain biking, I still think it fits. Best part, you can take the Summit County bus back, so you only have to bike one way.
Don’t have your own bike? Don’t worry. You can rent a bike from several Breckenridge bike rental places. Here is a list we found to get you started.
And after your ride, check out these fabulous Breck happy hours.
And if you’d like to get off the bike and do some hiking, here are a few of our favorite Breckenridge hiking trails.
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