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Downhill Mountain Biking in Vail, Colorado

I'm writing this post a little late since I just uploaded all the photos from the trip. Scott called a few weeks ago to see if I was doing anything the weekend of June 28. I didn't have any plans yet so we decided we'd head up to Vail, Colorado and try some downhill mountain biking.

Scott booked a flight on Southwest to Denver which arrived on Saturday night. I drove up and picked him up from the airport and then we drove out to Vail. We didn't get into our hotel until around midnight since Scott's flight was delayed about an hour. One nice thing about driving that late was the complete lack of traffic on I-70 through the mountains.

We woke up pretty early on Sunday morning and headed into Vail to purchase our lift tickets and mountain bike rentals. We found out that we could buy a full day lift ticket that came with a half day mountain bike rental included for $73. The guys at the bike shop said they didn't really follow the half/full day rental schedule so as long as we returned the bikes before 6:00pm then we'd be fine.

We were given two Trek Fuel Ex 5 29ers to take up the mountain. The bikes are full suspension and seemingly ran over just about anything without a problem. We did a couple runs including some pretty steep blacks then went back to the car to make some sandwiches for lunch. Scott had a little trouble with his rear brake not working too well so he had to take it in a couple times to get it tightened up.

Our favorite run of the day was Radio Flyer. It had some really nice smooth curves, jumps and dips. It's basically what both of us were imagining when we booked the trip. Several of the other runs were a little too rocky or just plain too steep to feel comfortable on.

After a full day (9:30am-5:45pm) we decided to turn the bikes in and head back to the hotel to shower and find some food. All the riding really wore out my wrists... I think due to the vibration of flying down the hill. My right knee was a little banged up because it kept hitting the top bar of the bike and I think I smacked my left ankle on the pedal once. Other than that, it was an incident free experience!

For dinner we went to a place called Yellowbelly that did a modern take on soul food. I had some roasted chicken, citrus quinoa salad and "smashed potato fries". They also had some natural cane sugar sodas that were all pretty good. There wasn't much to do in town so we tried the hot tub and sauna but both seemed to be broken. The hot tub was cold and the sauna never started steaming. We were both pretty wiped out so we ended up just heading to bed.

I think both of us slept really well considering we didn't even wake up until our alarm went off around 8:30am. Our plan for the day was to check out of the hotel, head to Copper Mountain and take advantage of a lift ticket deal and do some hiking at the top of the ski area before dropping Scott back off at the airport.

We had a quick breakfast and then drove to Copper Mountain. The deal was if we showed up with a receipt that showed we spent $10 in the Copper village then we'd get a free lift ticket for the day. Rather than buying any unnecessary junk, we sorta scammed the system and each bought $10 worth of gas for my car. They didn't seem to have any issue with it so we got our free lift tickets and jumped on the lift.

We only had about an hour to spend up there before we needed to start our journey back to Denver. The hiking was nice and the air was thin. We were up over 11,000 feet and there was still plenty of snow around from the ski runs.

We hit a bunch of traffic on the way back to Denver since they're doing some major construction on one of the tunnels near Idaho Springs. It slowed us down by about a half hour but we still got Scott to the airport with plenty of time to catch his flight. After dropping him off I had the long 7 hour journey home. I stopped in Colorado Springs along the way to check out a liquor store called Coltrains. I always like to pick up some beers I can't find in New Mexico when I'm up in Colorado. Coltrains was right off I-25 which made it really convenient. I bought a bunch of stuff I'd never had and then drove home.

It was a lot of driving for such a short trip but I definitely want to do some more downhill mountain biking. Scott and I definitely made the most of our time on the bike but we both agreed that it would be nice to do a couple days and take our time and not ride all day. It was just too draining.
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On the gondola up to the trails
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Vail ski runs in summer
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A black run at Vail
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Hiking at Copper mountain