Fat Biking Leadville with Alp Cycles Women’s Racing Team
Alison Powers is the owner and head coach of ALP Cycles Coaching and ALP Cycles Racing, a women’s racing team. After 7 years on the US Ski Team as a downhill ski racer, Alison raced bikes professionally for 8 years both nationally and internationally. She is the only person in history to win all three road discipline National Championships in one year (2014).
Alp Cycles Women’s Racing Team headed to Leadville, Colorado for three days of fat biking, Nordic skiing, yoga, and team bonding. Cold temperatures, new equipment, and Leadville’s legendary elevation made for a great adventure.
Some teammates were meeting for the first time, and others were completely new to fat biking and Nordic skiing. The group included an array of talented women, including a doctor, pharmacist, veterinarian, students, mothers, coaches, and many more who took time out of their busy schedules to enjoy being active outdoors with friends and teammates.
Day 1: Colorado Mountain College Trails
Seven miles of single track trails are accessible from the Colorado Mountain College campus with an additional seven to ten miles of wider groomed Nordic trails. The mellow terrain is good for all ages and abilities. This was a good spot for our first ride as we had just rolled into town. We were a small group (3 riders and 2 coaches) as the others hadn’t arrived yet, so our goal for the ride was to stay together and have fun. We had a few tumbles as riders were getting used to the feel of riding a fat bike in the snow, but towards the end of the ride everyone improved greatly! It always helps to have a little encouragement from your teammates when you’ve sunk into the snow.
Day 2: Yoga & Mineral Belt Trail
The group headed to Ray of Light Yoga in the morning to get loose for the day ahead. It was a good experience to share together as some riders were less accustomed to yoga, and others were clearly regulars. It was inspiring to see teammates with such flexibility and core strength. Our instructor Erin was kind and encouraged us to set an intention and connect with how our bodies were feeling and responding to different movements. After feeling rejuvenated and limber, we grabbed a quick snack before hitting the Mineral Belt Trail.
The Mineral Belt Trail has been listed as one of Colorado’s top 10 mountain trails. The 11.6 mile loop travels through the historic mining district and follows old mining-camp rail beds. The riders cruised through the loop with ease, stopping only to take photos of the spectacular views. One loop wasn’t enough, so we explored a few other trails. It was a solid day on the bike with far less tumbles, many great learning opportunities, mentoring from coaches, and team bonding.
Homemade burrito bowls for dinner were accompanied by a great group discussion with the leading question, If you could have a cycling superpower, what would it be?
- Having endless energy and not needing to take nutrition or water while riding
- Being able to hear your competitors’ thoughts
- Ability to control the race
- Climbing with ease
Day 3: Tennessee Pass Nordic Trail
Before heading out for the day, the team gathered around the TV at 7 AM to watch the women’s Cyclocross World Championships. It was a great opportunity to talk about bike racing and cheer on our favorites. After the race concluded we started to suit up and get ready for the day. It’s important, especially when exercising at altitude, to stay well hydrated and nourished. The team uses NBS Nutrition for hydration and recovery. After filling our bottles and packing our bags, we jumped in cars and headed to the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center.
Riders had the option to nordic ski or fat bike. With a combination of both, it made for a really fun day. Of course, we had to make things a competition, so the fat bikers and skiers tried to race. A great moment in the day came when a rider was told to go outside of her comfort zone and try a very challenging black diamond trail on the fat bike. The climb was long and steep, but she did it! Sometimes you just need a friend and coach to give you a little extra push.
Later in the evening we returned to the CMC trails for another ride as the sun went down. By this time all the riders were much more confident and really crushed the trails.
We are all grateful to have experienced such a beautiful, challenging, and rewarding camp. We tried new things, bonded together as a team, and gained valuable fitness. We returned home better bike riders and teammates.
Big thanks to KÜHL cyclist (and friend) Jill Cederholm for opening her beautiful Leadville home to us!