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Alpine Biking the ‘Boat

  • Rob Hudson tears into Tenderfoot singletrack near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

  • Big Agnes supplied tents from their mtnGLO line, bags, and pads at Dry Lake Campground for the bike test.

  • From front: Nick Truitt, Rob Hudson, Ben Truitt, Andi Bither Malboeuf, and Kathy Miller test fat tires on Mad Creek near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

  • Ben Truitt (left), Rob Hudson, and Sydney Fox in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

  • Sydney Fox rides above Steamboat Springs, Colorado as a Pacific storm gathers.

  • Near Emerald Mountain, Sydney Fox approaches Andi Bither Malboeuf (left) and Rob Hudson (right) while testing mountain bikes in Colorado's Steamboat ski area.

  • Rob Hudson, in Tenderfoot near Steamboat Springs, Colorado a day before a Pacific Storm dumped snow on Colorado.

  • Rob Hudson (rear), Ben Truitt, and Sydney Fox ride under Priest Creek Chair at Steamboat, Colorado.

  • Rob Hudson (left) and Ben Truitt (right) making memories.

Swami’s Fat Tire Test heads to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Mountain biking is many things to many people, and that’s cool. Want to ride fat bikes in the Arizona desert? Have at it. Hardtails on Kansas dirt roads? Glad you’re getting out there. Cranking in the big ring on Floridian singletrack? Hey, it’s way cooler than spinning class. But personally I’ve always distinguished between those subsets of the beloved sport and what I think of as mountain biking—meaning you ride your bike up a mountain, eat an oat bar, throw on a shell, and then bomb back down with the suspension wide open. Call it Alpine Mountain Biking. Yeah, that’s as redundant as  “shrimp scampi” and “table mesa” but you get the point.

Because of the vagaries of the bike industry, for the past five years we’ve been forced to test new model year bikes in the Utah, Colorado, and Arizona deserts. We love those trips, but it’s not really who we are. This is Mountain magazine, after all. So last weekend we rallied to meet our bike test directors from Breck Bike Guides in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for our first purist’s dream of an Alpine Mountain Biking Test. Steamboat’s Big Agnes set us up with tents, bags, and pads and an amazing base camp at the Dry Lake campground on Buff Pass. Steamboat’s Honey Stinger supplied the waffles and energy gels. And the town and resort of Steamboat offered up their incredible trail network. Somehow they even threw in peak foliage (a week later than scheduled), short sleeve riding conditions, and rainbows. (What? No butterflies and puppies?) Envision loamy, purpose-built singletrack beneath a canopy of golden aspens and you’re getting warmer. Now ride faster and hoot and holler a bit. That’s Alpine Mountain Biking. —Marc Peruzzi/Photography by Dave Cox

Look for the full test results and all the inside information on riding Steamboat in our Early Summer Gear Guide, coming June 2015. Don’t miss out—subscribe now

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