Colorado Freeride Festival, Winter Park
Will Ross, July 24, 2012
Set in Winter Park, Colorado, the Colorado Freeride Festival is a multi-day event that does its best to show how much fun you can have hurtling down a hillside or leaping over. With the stunning alpine backdrop and an abundance of enduro, singletrack, slopestyle events, mountain culture comes alive at the end of July, just up the road from Denver.
The event’s total purse poking above $40,000 each year, encouraging athletes come from around the world to set themselves among the competition. I dropped in for the 2012 showing, when the event was in its infancy and the London Olympics were in full swing.
Even during this inaugural year, Brit Sam Pilgrim, Canadian Brandon Semenuk and Cam McCaul showed up the slopestyle category, with the likes of Ross Schnell and Mark Weir dropping into the enduro races.
Aside from the regular set of events for the elite, the final day hosts an “Intergalactic Pond Crossing” in which riders have to traverse the width of a half-acre pond in Winter Park Village, also on their bikes. The event captures the mood of the event well – a few days of levity and a total trust in few pieces of metal.
Of course none of this should put you off venturing in the Trestle Bike Park to find your own routes before and during the event. Lifts operate for competitors and for recreational riders – just keep a note of which trails are accessible for a slower pace of riding.
Find lodging in Winter Park early, then figure out how to play a few days of spectating and riding.