Trestle Bike Park: Opening Day 2018
5 Jul 2018
Trestle, also known as Winter Park Resort in the winter, has a reputation for some of the most well-maintained trails in the Denver/Front Range area and this year was par for the course for the trail team working there. The main jump trail Rainmaker received a much needed facelift on its upper segment this season; making many of the hits harder to overshoot compared to last year. This is due to the fact that the jumps were made much longer and lower relative to how lippy and short they were previously. Rainmaker’s facelift was well received by riders this weekend, with many of the hits also having added optional hip lips and landings for maximum shreddage.
(Styling out one of Rainmakers’ new optional hip lines, you can see the main line on the right.)
Last season the park introduced new trails and opened up a another lift on the backside of the mountain for bike access, allowing even more options for riders in search of the perfectly groomed flow Trestle is known for. Rumors flying around the area seemed to indicate that a new hand-built trail will be opening this year on the backside of the mountain, competing with the titular Trestle DH run as the main source of gnar on the mountain. My inside source on trail crew, Ross Soriano, says: “it’s supposed to be like a backwards Space Ape, [another tech trail in the park] chunky up top and fast at the bottom,” indeed the trail turned out to be pretty similar to this description with a lot of hand built chunk and fast berms. I also got to check out the new 36th Chamber trail, a short connector that takes you from the top of Olympia lift into the top of Rainmaker. It’s the perfect in between kind of trail for people who find Rainmaker to be a little small but don’t have the guts to hit the pro line tail known as Banana Peel. For those who are unfamiliar, you typically start on the blue trail Shy Ann which has some buttery corners and a few very small, mellow tables and work onto black diamond Rainmaker which has bigger tables and a few consequential yet optional gaps. After that you would typically go on to Boulevard which has some even larger tables but this year the upper part containing said tables is closed due to construction of a new lift on that side of the mountain. That’s where 36th Chamber comes in: it has tables of a similar size to Upper Boulevard. Finally, once you’ve mastered 36th Chamber you’re ready for Banana Peel. The Peel is one of my personal favorites in Colorado but like a rich dessert I don’t indulge in it often because of the high consequence nature of the trail. Pictures do not do justice to how intimidating all of the mandatory gaps are and in fact the resort does not let anyone ride this trail before they’ve watched a safety video and signed a separate waiver from the standard resort one to obtain a special pro pass permitting the rider on the trail. The Banana Peel stars with a elevated start platform with a mandatory squirrel catcher drop to weed out the weak of will and/or skill before shooting you into a huge wooden C-wall berm to drop feature, which leads into the dreaded Mousetrap feature: a mandatory wood-to-wood step up that turns into a 180 degree wallride that leads into a huge (17 feet-ish) ladder drop. Those are just the first two features on this burly trail but hopefully you understand my point: this thing is sick!
(Scrubbing into the fog on the drop in to Trestle DH.)
Opening day was as crowded as ever despite the construction occurring on the mountain. This season will prove a challenge for managing crowds because the main lift, Zephyr, has been removed to make way for a new 10 person gondola to be installed over the summer in its place. This means that in order to access the bike park riders will have to take two lfts to get to the top of the mountain. My friend on trail crew informed me that more bike racks had been added to these two lifts than what was previously on last season in order to offset the shortage of lifts available and decrease crowding at the base area. Considering how many people from Denver and other front range cities visit the park, the lift layout is very crucial to keeping people riding instead of waiting. With Winter Park only an hour drive from Denver it is certainly the closest and therefore sees more traffic than other bike parks during a typical season. I rolled up to the base of Winter Park Friday evening with my breaking bad-esque pop up camper and woke up to sunshine typical of a state where only 65 days a year are cloudy. One problem I noticed with the resort was that even though crowds were managed well at the lifts, the line for tickets was brutal. I cannot stress enough how many people visit this resort both in the winter and summer seasons so I applaud the staff of the resort doing the best they can to keep lines short and customers happy on what is probably the most stressful day of the season for employees. If you want to avoid crowds, regardless of what resort you’re visiting, then you probably don’t want to ride opening day or at least buy your tickets online in advance if you absolutely must be there the first day of the season. That being said, I have never seen another bike park run as smoothly as Trestle especially when the base area is under heavy construction of a new lift. Trestle’s advertising slogan this season is a very fitting: “You’ll love our dirt” which I think describes the park perfectly. Every trail in the park was perfectly manicured on opening day and the weather was perfect all weekend. I have to hand it to the trail crew here for all the work they do not only building and maintaining but also keeping riders safe with proper signage, accurate maps, and a layout which makes it easier for bike patrol to locate and quickly assist any downed riders. Saturday was overcast and cool but dry and for the amount of riders I saw at the many places where you can stop to catch your breath (we’re at 10,000ft elevation here!) there were surprisingly few traffic holdups on the trails. I spent the day slapping corners and boosting jumps on Rainmaker lap after lap with practically every Front Range downhiller I knew. The next day was equally mint but in a far different way: downpour in the morning scared off the crowds and lead to what surely had to be the mountain bike equivalent of pow skiing. Perfect dirt all day meant it was time to grease some corners and shralp some gnar. Downsides included the lift being stopped for lightning watch almost every thirty minutes, but that allowed me to get some clips with the homies. A common misconception about the park is that there are only flow trails to offer and that you would be better off riding an enduro rig, while you can definitely get by perfectly fine on an enduro bike it’s days like that Sunday that make it worth having a DH sled. All the rocks, roots, and bomb holes become twenty percent more wild when wet and it pays to have a more capable ride. Wet days happen a fair amount at Trestle as well so that’s why the flow trails can stay in pretty good condition despite the traffic they see as well as keeping the gnarly stuff truly challenging. The riding Sunday was a good that I decided to stick around another day to ride with some locals on Monday. This time it was sunny but not too hot, keeping the trails in pristine moisture levels for prime thrashing. I got some laps in with Winter Park local Samantha Soriano, a pro rider for Commencal’s junior cartel, who showed me the goods on the park’s main technical trails: Trestle DH and Boulevard as well as Space Ape and Bear Arms. The double black diamond Trestle DH is known for steep, tight corners into off camber roots and rocks. It is also one of the longest continuous trails in the park so it is the perfect DH race course. Boulevard is a fast single black diamond trail known for its wide open corners that you can absolutely rail. Further down the mountain at the end of Boulevard lies Space Ape and Bear Arms parallel to each other. Both are relatively short in comparison to other trails on the hill but while they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. Space Ape begins with some fun mandatory shark fin style gaps and then opens up into a sizeable dry creek gap with some high speed technical to finish the trail off. Meanwhile Bear Arms is all about rock rolls and cheeky race lines with a few butt clenching gaps into two of its rock gardens. These four are probably my favorite trails on the mountain right now.
(Hitting the race line in one of the rock gardens on Trestle DH. The dirt was perf but the rocks and roots may as well have been coated with teflon.)
(Exploring line choices on lower Trestle DH in the “‘Tater Patch” rock garden.)
(Ross getting his nose bonk game on Shy Ann, the most popular blue trail on the mountain.)