Mountain biking is gaining momentum in the valley. And behind the scenes of your local singletrack, a small group has been digging up (literally) new opportunities for mountain bikers. There's a project that has been years in the making, a new trail system that will have people amped to take off their skis and get ready to ride this season
Not everyone would gaze upon a desert hillside with massive power lines and think “what a lovely place to ride my bike.” Yet by the end of this year, there is no doubt that hundreds of mountain bikers will be ecstatic over the 1,000 acres of BLM land in Shavano Valley known as Electric Hills. The 17-miles (when complete) of professionally designed singletrack will soon flow across the landscape, enticing riders with fun and technical terrain not found on nearby trail systems.
The new trails begin six miles west of Montrose, plugged into the Rimrocker trailhead at the end of State Highway 90. Here, riders can "find their flow" on a variety of trail features. From rock gardens to tight switchbacks, Electric Hills will be a playground for intermediate to advanced riders, and a skills building opportunity for beginners. The design follows three circuits, each gaining in difficulty while connector trails give ample route options. It’s also built for multi-use, welcoming all types of non-motorized trail users.
The project is considered a big win for the greater mountain biking community, and especially for the local trails organization MUT (Montrose Uncompahgre Trails). MUT has spent 8 years turning a vision for Electric Hills into an awesome reality. Up until now, mountain bikers in Montrose chose between moto trails (often rutted out or too steep), beginner level singletrack, or leaving town to ride in places like Grand Junction, Gunnison or Durango.
“Many of our trails are decommissioned roads, where the lack of challenge and variety is evident. Local riders end up driving to other towns to find fun, challenging trails," says Garry Baker, MUT committee member.
Last season, news of Electric Hills sparked over 80 volunteers to show up and help build the first five miles of trail. The completed segments boast punchy climbs with bumpy descents, and will be ready to ride as soon as the seasonal wildlife closure ends on April 15. The remaining 12-miles of trail will be built out by Sweet & Sustainable Singletrack over the course of the next year, pending approval on a grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“No dig, no ride,” joked a volunteer recently on the Montrose biking forum. While many hands make for easy work, the truth is, building new trails takes a lot more than digging. Years of planning, coordination with land agencies, and grant proposals are among the tasks that get things moving. More than anything, it takes the determination of individuals who have the willpower to make things happen – people like Garry Baker and Bill Harris, key conductors for Electric Hills.
So next time you're sending it on your favorite singletrack, think about how it got there, and whether you too can be an amplifier for making the Uncompahgre Valley an even better place for riding bikes. www.copmoba.org/montrose