DAN ALDERMAN, Adventure guy, Austin, Texas
The First Ski Lift Operated Bike Park Opens in Texas!
A few weeks ago a friend added me to a WhatsApp group conversation about a mountain biking park they were planning to check out. All I needed to see was “lift assisted bike park” and there was no way I wasn’t going.
Just 60 miles from Austin, near Burnet, TX, Spider Mountain Bike Park http://www.spidermountain.com, the only year round ski lift operated bike park, is already attracting mountain bike enthusiast from all over the country. The bike park overlooks Lake Buchanan and was designed and built by Mountain Capital Partners which owns and operates Spider Mountain along with a handful of other mountains including Purgatory in Durango, CO.
Bomb Hills Not Countries
As I got a few miles away from Spider Mountain Bike Park I was excited to see the park but figured since it was Friday morning the crowd would be light. Wrong! The secret is out and the dirt parking area was packed with pickups and Subaru’s topped with high-tech, full-suspension mountain bombers. For anyone that doesn’t have all the necessary equipment, Spider Mountain has a full rental shop to properly equip you for a day on the hill. For $100 I rented a Rocky Mountain Maiden big mountain freerider and full face Troy Lee Designs helmet. The Maiden is a downhill specific badass that retails for about $4,000, which can take on anything Spider Mountain can dish out. So even if I couldn’t ride, I looked legit.
Pick Your Poison
After buying your $50 all-day lift ticket, make your way over to the 4-person chairlift called Texas Eagle, load your bike and crawl your way to the top where you access the five different single tracks of varying ability. The trail entrances are well marked and set up similar to ski trails – green, blue, black, double black. Spider Mountain is continuing to build trails and plans to have a few more open in the next month, including a cross-country trail that should wrap around the whole park.
Since none of us really knew what we were in for, we started on the green to set the tone. The mile long single track flowed through the cedar forests with banked turns, rolling pitches but nothing too technical. Any novice or grom could easily have a great time on this trail. As you go up in color, the difficulty goes up significantly and I found the blue trails to be a perfect blend of speed, adrenaline and technical difficulty. For grins, I followed my bros down the black trail but after the first 6’ drop figured I’d rather not go home in a sling and went back to shredding the blues.
Bike, Beer, Repeat
Like most, our crew made a day of it. We got there around 11am and rode hard until 4pm. Seems like the protocol was to make a few laps, come back to your truck for a snack and refreshment, take a few laps and then go back and chill at your truck. Everyone there was super chill and helpful and I didn’t experience any attitude. There were beginners and experts alike having a great time and stoked they didn’t have to climb uphill. If you like to ride, even a little, do yourself a favor and check out Spider Mountain Bike Park. It’s a beautiful piece of land overlooking one of the biggest Highland Lakes and a hell of a good time. Plus you never need to pedal!