Get Dirty for Your New Year’s Resolution!
With a new year comes new year’s resolutions. Instead of one of the pat choices – loose weight, stop a bad habit – for all the roadies out there, we’d like to recommend picking up the mountain bike. The boxes checked in its favor are many. You can ride for hours with no cars, the scenery is breathtaking, the thrills are fast and furious when descending, and the fitness gains are incredible when the trail is steep and the terrain loose. After a few weeks on the trails your roadie buddies will be wondering what you have done to turbo charge your climbing ability.
Take a few minutes, peruse the used bikes on Bicycle Blue Book and you’ll see many options for riding trails, from hard tail race bikes to full suspension down hill bikes that look like a motorcycle, minus the motor. If you truly are new to the trail, look for full suspension in the 100 to 120mm range. Plenty of forgiving travel, but not enough to bog you down as you pedal. To help inspire the move to the dirt, we chatted with 6X Leadville winner and US MTB legend, Dave Wiens, about his start in mountain biking, and how it became a career. Who knows? A resolution that begins with a quick search on Bicycle Blue Book could end up on the Leadville start line some day!
“As a teenager I was involved in kayaking and alpine skiing. In high school I worked in a sporting goods store in Denver. It was a specialty retailer. It had an alpine ski shop, a bike shop, backpacking and camping. It was a great shop. That is where I became aware of mountain biking. It’s funny though because the shop I worked in didn’t jump on the mountain bike bandwagon right away, they were kind of like, ‘I don’t know about that.’ So I was aware the bikes existed and, being involved in skiing and kayaking, the mountain bike became the elusive missing toy. I never road raced or did BMX, but I rode my bike from the time I was six. The freedom to just go—that is what I loved about it, to be able to explore, to go places.
The bike that got me aware of mountain biking was the Specialized Stumpjumper. It was basically the only bike at the time. It was something I actually wanted for a couple of years. The shop I worked at carried a brand called Trailmate out of Florida. It looked like a mountain bike but it was really just a cruiser with side pull brakes. We got a couple of those in the shop and few of us went riding on some trails in Denver. I will never forget going into that set of trails with a buddy of mine, chasing each other around. The trails were tight and twisty and we both came out of there saying, ‘That was awesome.’ From there I got really into mountain biking. Eventually through the Specialized rep I got an ‘85 Stumpjumper and started racing.
The first mountain bike race I ever did was in Alaska in 1986. They were fun and intense and I enjoyed the competition; the races were very laid-back up there. I then came down to the lower 48 and went back to school in Gunnison at Western State Colorado University. I had taken a year off to go Alaska and returned to school in 1987. A buddy of mine was really into mountain bikes so we started to go to races. At that time I was racing Expert and sometimes the Experts would race with the Pros, so I ended up racing against John Tomac, Ned Overend and Mike Kloser. I got to cut my teeth against the best right away. I turned professional the winter between 1987 and 1988. I did so by checking the “Pro” box on the license.
In 1988, there was a really cool event called the Tour of the Rockies, which was a nine-day stage race based out of Vail. It was great for me because it was my third or fourth professional race and I got 11 starts against Ned, Tomac, Don Myrah and Rishi Grewal. I was really able to get a lot of experience in that one race. I think I finished tenth overall. From there, mountain bike racing was my focus.”